With the deep viola bass from the movie Jaws playing ominously in the background, Team New Zealand’s latest ACC boat, the Clay Oliver-designed NZL-81 was towed to her christening ceremony today in Auckland. Whether for secrecy or psychological warfare, NZL-81 was shrouded from the deck down, and even Lady Pippa Blake, the designated patron and bottle-smasher, wasn’t given a view. “We’ve got a big responsibility to the country and we have got a lot of good ideas,” said Oliver in an interview in the New Zealand Herald. “We are going to try and keep those protected as long as we can.”
The newest team to challenge for the Cup, Italy’s Mascalzone Latino, had a tough week last week when one of the cables on their Travelift broke, dropping one of the team’s boats back into the water with minor damage. Initial reports claimed that the dropped boat was their one and only current generation boat, Mascalzone Latino XII, but the team has since announced that the dropped boat was ITA-55, the former USA-55 Stars and Stripes, and that there was only minor damage.
Seeming to confirm their claim, the team sailed Mascalzone Latino XII last Saturday, the first venture on the Hauraki Gulf for ITA-72. Mascalzone Latino is the only AC team sailing only one current generation ACC boat in Auckland this go-round.
Victory Challenge, still in mourning for syndicate head Jan Stenbeck, who died suddenly last week in Paris, are reporting that their second boat SWE-73, Orm (snake in Swedish), has passed all structural tests. Sailing in a 17-knot breeze on Saturday morning, Orm is almost through with its work-up and will be sailing against the team’s other boat Örn (Eagle) sometime this coming week. “It’ll be exciting to see the two boats against each other in competitive conditions”, said team coach Skip Lissiman.