NewsSailGP sea trials set for New Zealand’s Northland Region

SailGP sea trials set for New Zealand’s Northland Region

The first F50 being craned in at Northport, Marsden Point.
The first F50 being craned in at Northport, Marsden Point.

SailGP’s new-class wingsailed F50 catamarans will be launched in a testing capacity in mid-October in the Northland Region of New Zealand. The subtropical region on New Zealand’s North Island was selected as the central technical and development hub for the production and delivery of some of the most advanced boats in the world.

Designed and constructed by New Zealand’s Core Builders Composites, the F50 is a one-design class, and is a redesigned, supercharged incarnation of the exceptional AC50 used for the 35th America’s Cup last year. Core Builders Composites is the official boat supplier for SailGP, and will also provide all associated technical and support services.

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SailGP’s sea trials are a technical exercise focused on testing and safety, aimed at validating the leading-edge systems of the boats and allowing each of SailGP’s six teams – Australia, China, France, Japan and the United States – to become familiar with the F50s’ highly advanced technology and to determine how to effectively operate the boat at speeds up to and exceeding 50 knots.

Testing will be based on the Northland Region’s southeast coast at Northport, a deep-water commercial port situated at Marsden Point near Whangerei, approximately 80 kilometers north of CBC in Warkworth, where the F50s were designed and constructed by highly skilled marine professionals from the Northland Region.

The six catamarans have been under construction for the past 12 months utilizing additional resources from MS Engineering, Pure Design, C-Tech, Doyle Sails, Baytex and Rayglass. The first F50 will launch later this month using Northport’s 100-ton mobile harbor crane, which will lower the boats and wings to a special pontoon and mooring area the port has set aside for the purpose.

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The Northland marine industry has provided the platform for the sea trials to take place on the waters of Bream Bay. Throughout the next three months, SailGP will take advantage of the pristine waterways and access to the resources and experts necessary to conduct testing and ensure the F50s will be race ready early next year. Activity will then continue in Northland throughout SailGP’s initial seasons and beyond.

“Northland offers easy access to a highly skilled and specialized marine services sector, which will allow us to perform the shake-down sails and validate the yachts’ upgraded systems and technology,” said Brad Marsh, SailGP tech team operations manager. “We look forward to integrating the sailors in to the local communities and ensuring that they experience everything Northland has to offer.”

“While this isn’t a commercial undertaking for us and is very different to our core business, we are delighted to facilitate the role Northland will play in this new event in the global competitive sailing calendar,” said Northport CEO Jon Moore. “This is the latest in a series of developments at Northport that are helping to raise Northland’s profile both domestically and internationally.

“Ports don’t drive economic growth but certainly can facilitate it. We understand that many of the services Core needs will be sourced locally and wouldn’t be surprised to see other specialist firms servicing the international competitive sailing industry establish a presence here too.”

Each of the six SailGP teams will spend a minimum of two weeks in Northland, as they take their first sails on the new class of yachts, set to begin racing in Sydney in mid-February.