22 Jan 2020

America's Cup: Te Kahu 'better late than never'

4:52 pm on 22 January 2020

Better late than never, Team New Zealand have unveiled their new test boat Te Kāhu in Auckland.

Emirates Team New Zealand unveil their new test boat Te Kāhu, meaning the Hawk.

Emirates Team New Zealand unveil their new test boat Te Kāhu, meaning the Hawk. Photo: Supplied: Emirates Team New Zealand

Te Kāhu meaning 'The Hawk' will be used by the team to continue design development in 2020 while their AC75 'Te Aihe' is being raced offshore for the America's Cup World Series events in Sardinia in April and in Portsmouth in June.

Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton said it may seem to outsiders that they are a bit late in launching their test boat, considering the Challengers test boats started hitting the water in September 2018.

"Early in any campaign decisions have to be made that ultimately will only be judged at the end. As a team, we decided that a test boat was indeed a really key necessity but believed it needed to have as much design input as our first AC75 to give it meaningful ongoing development possibilities."

"There is no doubt looking back that the Challengers all learnt some valuable lessons and got a bit of a jump on us with their developments. But it was a conscious decision of ours to suck that up and play the long game knowing that points don't start to count until the first race of the America's Cup, which obviously is in March 2021," said Dalton.

While Te Aihe is being shipped 60 days either way to and from Europe, by launching Te Kāhu now, Team New Zealand plan to continue their on-water development programme uninterrupted.

"We know from experience that the development and gains that take place in the year before the America's Cup are vitally important," said Head of Design, Dan Bernasconi.

"We couldn't afford to only be sailing on the water for the handful of weeks we will get on Te Aihe around the ACWS events between now and its return to New Zealand."

Emirates Team New Zealand are now in the process of packing up and preparing Te Aihe for shipping to Cagliari in preparation for the first ACWS event in April which is the next time the AC75 will be sailed, and the first time it will line up to race against the other AC75's.

"In Te Kāhu we have a very legitimate test boat which will provide us the platform to hopefully make some significant gains in our developments for 2021. Who is right in their overall plans and strategy we have no idea. I guess we will find out next year."