On a brilliantly fine and still winter’s morning, the 40m wingsail was wheeled from its tent, lifted and carefully placed on the platform.
It was a significant time for team members who have worked solidly for 18 months for the moment.
Curious onlookers stopped and watched from Halsey Street; from the other side of the Viaduct Harbour photograhers were shooting the action at the base.
There was a serious purpose today’s operations. Designers, engineers and shore crew performed a series of load tests on wing and rigging as final preparations are made for Saturday and the first sailing which, weather depending, could be later next week.
Even though the team would have preferred to keep the AC72 under wraps for a few more days while cosmetic work (principally applying the last sponsor logos to the wing) is completed there was no hiding it
The wingsail – bigger than a wing on the Boeing 747 – is twice as high and three times the area of the wing on the AC45s the have been raced in the America’s Cup World Series regattas.
Upright and in position for the first time, it towered over the base and could be seen from CBD buildings and streets around the Viaduct Harbour.
The New Zealand public will be able to get close to the cat on Saturday when the yacht is named at a show at the Viaduct Harbour.
Team managing director Grant Dalton said the show is for the New Zealand public – “to thank them for keeping the faith and their patience since 2007.”
The event is happening at night – sunset on this winter Saturday is 5.25pm – and the show doesn’t kick off until just before 6pm. But that’s because it’s aimed for early evening TV news not because the team is being coy.
“We’re planning to stream the entire show live,” Dalton said. “We’re setting up a link from our blog (www.etnzblog.com) that will go live at 5.30pm NZ time.
The big moment comes – a champagne bottle launched by 1200 people pulling on a hemp rope will break on the boat – about 6.15pm which will trigger a ring of fire around the boat and a fireworks display.”
The show is free to the public. People will have great views from the Halsey Street wharf, from public areas around the Viaduct Events Centre and from the area around the lifting bridge.
Dalton urges people to arrive at the Viaduct by 5.30pm.