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Emirates SkyCargo lifts America’s Cup challenger

DUBAI: April 13, 2017. Bookmakers are giving America's Cup challenger Emirates Team New Zealand 3:1 odds to win the sailing competition when racing ends in Bermuda in June this year.

The 50 ft. catamaran New Zealand Aotearoa and its eight tonnes chase boat plus support equipment, arrived in Bermuda on April 10 after an 18 hour 50 minute journey from Auckland via Los Angeles on an Emirates SkyCargo B747.

EK New Zealand 1No strangers to project cargo, Emirates disassembled the boat into six components for its platform, five more pieces for its wings, plus the two 15 meter hulls and the chase boat.

During the packing process, metal frames were used to protect the individual components during transit that included trucking to Auckland airport, security screening and then a loading that took over four hours to complete.

Now unloaded and based in the Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda, Team New Zealand will take a week to put the boat back together prior to beginning sea trials this month.

The operation has been months in the planning from modeling the contents and loading of the aircraft, to getting bespoke racking produced, to physically packing everything on the aircraft.

"We have our ACC race boat, two wing sails, a chase boat, daggerboards, gym equipment, electrics, hydraulics and a huge amount of supplementary equipment which equates to around 42 tonnes of cargo," explained project manager Martin McElwee.

Emirates Team New Zealand COO Kevin Shoebridge added: "It really is a precise operation that the guys are running, but it was always going to be. We have had this plan in the pipeline for a good six months or so now, so at the end of the day it is just part of our process towards getting to Bermuda to bring the America's Cup home to New Zealand."

"But the deployment is on and every day counts, so we need everything go to plan so that we are back testing and sailing on the Great Sound in Bermuda in as little time as possible."

EK New Zealand 2Odds on the other competitors in the final series are: Oracle Team USA, 11/10; Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing (Britain) 5/2; Artemis Racing (Sweden) 9/1; SoftBank Team Japan, 25/1; and Groupama Team France, 50/1.

The America's Cup is the oldest international trophy in world sport, pre-dating the modern Olympics, the Ryder Cup and the World Cup. The first race was organised by the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1851, the same year that both Reuters and the New York Times were founded.

It was a single race around the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England, and open to yachts of all nations. The black schooner America outclassed the field and won the race which was renamed the America's Cup and became a challenge trophy.

American teams successfully defended the Cup for 132 years until an Australian team won in 1983. Since then the Cup has been held off Cowes on the Isle of Wight, New York, Newport RI, Fremantle, San Diego, Auckland, Valencia and San Francisco.

The America's Cup winner has the right to set the rules for the next race series so current holder Team Oracle USA decided the 35th match would be based on the use of multi-hulls off Bermuda.

The event will consist of a Challengers selection series, divided into Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers and Challenger Playoffs (May 27 - 13th June 13); and the America's Cup Match (June 18-19 and 25-28) where the winner of the selection series will face the defending cup winner.

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