On the tail end of Emirates Team New Zealand’s launch of their new test boat Te Kāhu, another vitally important vessel to the 36th America’s Cup – the new Broadcast Platform, Manu-Wai was also launched and christened by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei. Drones and helicopters are vital for capturing on-water action, but to get the fans right into the middle of the show, it’s hard to beat filming a boat race with a boat.
Those with an eye for detail or a bit of a thing for America’s Cup history will notice something familiar about Manu-Wai. This is the 5th time the boat has been recycled within the America’s Cup and the 2nd time Emirates Team New Zealand has repurposed her and kept her sailing. Manu-Wai began life in 2011 as Team Korea’s AC45 during the 2011-12 ACWS ahead of the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco. With a young Peter Burling at the helm they came 6th in the series. In the 2012-13 ACWS, it was recycled by Team Energy sailing for France where it again came 6th.
It was then bought by Team Australia, who were the initial Challenger of Record for the 35th America’s Cup. The Hamilton Island Yacht Club had begun the process of converting it to a foiling AC45F but withdrew from the competition. Emirates Team New Zealand then picked it up and without skipping a beat the AC45F was upcycled into the teams vitally important ‘boat 1’ for design and development ahead of their race boat for Bermuda. Teams were not permitted to build anything larger than 45 feet ahead of the final race boat, but through clever design and out of the box thinking, all within the rules of the protocol, through an additional 1-metre gantry off the stern, they turned the AC45F into something so near to scale of an AC50, they effectively gain 6 months of full-scale testing over their competitors.
The hulls of Boat 1 then remained in storage until the middle of last year where they were pulled out and used as the foundation for the new broadcast platform with some additional chines and other modifications. After all, what better way to keep up with AC boats doing AC speeds than with a previous AC class yacht- albeit powered by twin 250’s instead of the wind.