Wight Lightning's Auckland launch

A short ceremony to be held at the British base tomorrow

Friday July 12th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Australasia
Tomorrow Wight Lightning, the first ever America's Cup Class boat to be built in Britain, will be launched into the Viaduct Basin in Auckland after a short ceremony at the GBR Challenge base on syndicate row. The first British boat to enter the Louis Vuitton Cup since 1987 will be towed out into Auckland harbour by the GBR Challenge team for the first of her sea trials, now that a series of load testing has been completed on shore.

GBR Challenge skipper, Ian Walker commented, "this is yet another important step for Peter Harrison and GBR Challenge. Wight Lightning is a credit to our design and build teams. Myself and the team are very excited about getting her on the water and are looking forward to the first sail next week."

Wight Lightning was developed by the GBR Challenge design team and it took the 30 strong build team 24,000 man hours over five months to build
her at the GBR Challenge base in Cowes. However there have been some delays in launching her in Auckland. "There are delays like you get with any new boat," Ian Walker told madfor sailing. "There are little bits and bobs, some in our control, some not. We're just trying to make sure we're doing everything correctly."

Although sea trials commence tomorrow, Walker says it will be around two weeks before they can sail her fully loaded up. "It depends upon the weather....we need nice, calm weather. A couple of the boat builders who know the boat inside and out are coming out to monitor the whole thing."

Meanwhile the team has been out training, the only team in Auckland Harbour currently doing so. "We had a good week. We've managed to sail every day - it's been quite a successful week. Most of the other teams are on holiday. We took our holiday in March and April."

That the second boat, GBR78, is going to Auckland is obviously welcome news to Walker: "That is exciting. We've been a bit in limbo. First we didn't know if we were going to build the thing. Then it became evident that we were going to build it faster and it became viable to get it down her if we flew it. it is very encouraging for me that Peter harrison is prepared to give us kind of support for us to do well. "

Back in Cowes, the word on the street is that GBR78 is something of a secret weapon, but likely to be "extremely difficult to sail" a source has told us. Does 'extremely difficult to sail' equal canards, we wonder?

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