Sam Bell, the Emirates Team New Zealand grinder, cannot wait to get his hands back on the team’s America’s Cup Class yacht, which arrived on island yesterday.
“It’s really exciting and I can’t wait to get out there on the water,” said Bell, as he anxiously waited for the precious cargo to be unloaded from the Emirates SkyCargo 747 aircraft. “It’s been a few weeks here now watching the other teams race on the water and it’s been hard to watch.”
The arrival of the team’s AC50 foiling catamaran coincided with the start of a three-day practice racing window for the teams involved in the 35th America’s Cup.
Bell hopes that the team’s boat will be reassembled before the next practice racing period commences on April 24-28.
“I think we will definitely be pushing for that,” he said. “Hopefully we can get the boat together in time.
“It looks pretty similar, the conditions out there to what we have trained in in Auckland, so it shouldn’t be too big an adjustment for us.”
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Team New Zealand’s racing yacht is the radical pedal grinders the team have opted for over traditional arm-powered grinding stations.
“I come from a grinding background and it’s been a big adjustment for a lot of the guys to change their bodies and turn them upside down,” Bell said.
“Countless hours have gone into research and development to get us where we are today, and a lot of credit has to be given to the shore team who don’t get home till well after dark.
“It’s good to be here, the people of Bermuda are pretty awesome. You can’t walk down the street without someone saying hello and asking how your day is.”
The arrival of Team New Zealand’s 50ft catamaran proved to be a spectacle for the hundreds of spectators that lined the road along Ferry Reach to see the plane touch down at LF Wade International Airport yesterday at 5.20pm.
The operation had been months in the planning from modelling the contents and loading of the aircraft, to getting custom racking system produced, to physically packing everything on to the huge aircraft.
The load that arrived in the big plane’s belly included two hulls of the 50ft Team New Zealand AC Class race boat, two wing sails, a chase boat, multiple daggerboards, gym equipment, electrics, hydraulics and a huge amount of supplementary equipment which equates to around 42 tonnes of cargo.
“We have a four-hour window to unload,” Kevin Shoebridge, the Team New Zealand chief operations officer, said. “Loading took 3½ hours so we should be finished unloading in three. Tonight we hope to truck the boat and all the gear to our base in Dockyard.
“Every day counts now. We need everything to go [according] to plan so that we are back testing and sailing on the Great Sound in Bermuda in as little time as possible.”
Among the dignitaries on hand were Premier Michael Dunkley and Eeconomic development minister Grant Gibbons. “We are excited to have the New Zealand boat and the rest of the Team New Zealand here in Bermuda,” Gibbons said. “We can’t wait to see them out on the water.”
A host of Team New Zealand team members were also on hand to greet their boat and their team-mates who made the 21-hour flight from Down Under via Los Angeles.