Michael Fay’s challenge against San Diego Yacht Club brought back the original rules of the Deed of Gift, a surprise to the American’s who intended to keep the cup in 12-metres. The New Zealand entry, dubbed the "Big Boat" weighed in at 39 tons, 120 feet over all, and boasted a 90 foot waterline, the largest waterline allowed by the original deed. The unusual carbon fiber design was a far cry from the 12 meters that the cup sailors were used to.
The challenge would be skippered by David Barnes with a massive crew of 40 sailors from the Mercury Bay Boating Club in New Zealand. The Big Boat, while fast, would face a shorter battle on the water than off after facing down the American entry.