Is it a boat, is it a plane? Team NZ launch America's Cup 'flying machine'

Wellington (AFP) –


The cutting-edge yacht that Team New Zealand will use to defend the America's Cup took to the water in Auckland harbour Friday, with crew members describing it as a "flying machine".

The 23-metre (75-foot) yacht features innovative foil arms, which lift the hull above the surface of the water into the air, reducing drag and increasing racing speed.

Team NZ skipper Glenn Ashby said the vessel -- which is expected to reach speeds of more than 50 knots -- was part racing yacht and part aircraft.

"It is a boat and it has to go through the water, but it's also a flying machine," he said.

"The hairs on the back of your neck stand up when this thing goes in the water and over the next few days and weeks I just can't wait to get out there."

The yacht is named "Te Rehutai", a Maori expression referring to the strength and energy of the ocean.

The second generation of the AC75 class boat are single hulled and much larger than the 15-metre foiling catamarans used at the last America's Cup in Bermuda in 2017.

The Auckland event will see challengers compete for the Prada Cup in January-February, with the winner then racing TNZ for the America's Cup in March.

The three confirmed challengers are Luna Rossa (ITA), American Magic (USA) and INEOS Team UK (GBR).