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AC36: Inside a fortress fit for an America's Cup champion; ETNZ moves to their new team base, fo

AUCKLAND (#1131) – After years of being cooped up in a grimy, gritty base, America's Cup victors Emirates Team New Zealand finally have a sparkling new home on Auckland's waterfront. Suzanne McFadden (NZL, esteemed Kiwi journalist and our longtime friend) takes a look inside, and talks to the man who's choreographed the transition....

ETNZ's Andy Nottage, one of the team's longest-serving members, orchestrated the move to their new base overlooking Auckland's Viaduct Harbour.

To the victor goes the spoils. Office chairs that don’t squeak; no tent walls that leak when it rains; no mice scuttling in the roof.

This is Emirates Team New Zealand’s reward for winning the America’s Cup – a glittering new home that overlooks the Viaduct Basin and Auckland’s cityscape. It’s a far cry from the pokey, dingy base, constructed mostly from shipping containers and tents, that served the team for their last campaign.

Over the past few weeks they've made their new digs in the Viaduct Events Centre, on the eastern edge of Wynyard Quarter, look more like the home of an America's Cup champion.

The view alone is dazzling. From the third floor of the building, which is now Team NZ’s mission control, the designers can spare a moment from their screens to gaze out over the Viaduct Harbour, which will be teeming with boats and people in the summer of 2021.

The meeting room, where future decisions will be made, looks west to the sites that will eventually house the Cup challengers.

Right now the team rattles around in the 6000sqm space, but by the 2021 America’s Cup, it will be humming.

For three years, Team NZ occupied the “gritty and grimy” site (team boss Grant Dalton’s description) that was an old fuel depot on Beaumont St. The tired building, on the block known as Site 18, was just big enough for the design and operations teams, but the rest of the work was done in massive tents and row upon row of converted shipping containers.

But it wasn’t all bad. The cramped quarters brought the team closer together.

Andy Nottage, the man who choreographed Team NZ’s latest move, says to keep that closeness, they’ve replicated the open plan environment in their new home.

“Even Dalts’ office doesn’t have a door, so everyone can hear what he’s saying. That’s how he wants it,” says Nottage, the team’s logistics and base manager.

“He’s told us we’ve got to keep our heads on – don’t be spoiled by this place.” They’ve been told not to forget where they came from, or who they are.

They’ve brought some of the relics of their past with them – like all 65 containers that made the journey to Bermuda and back last year. A double stack of the containers will divide the voluminous boat shed and serve as workshops, as they have for the last decade.

But there were many things that didn’t come with them – like the mice that continuously scurried across the ceiling. “I caught five in a week,” Nottage says.

The old office furniture the team got second-hand 10 years ago also failed to make the move across to Halsey St. They have modern desks and chairs now, courtesy of their supplier Vidak.

“It’s very spacious in here at the moment, but we’ve set up 63 work desks for when we’re going full tilt,” Nottage says.

“To be back in a solid building, where there’s not rain running down the walls and across the floor, is fantastic.”

There’s still hard work to be done to make the events centre, built in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, fit for its new purpose. Men in hi-vis vests have been measuring out the floor of the great hall space to make room for Team NZ’s two 75m foiling monohull race boats.

The construction of the first boat is “coming along nicely” at the team’s build facility on Auckland’s North Shore. It’s the first time in Team NZ’s history that they’ve has built their own boats.

Renovations on the boat shed must be completed before the first AC75 arrives, probably next March. The glass and aluminium frames of one massive glass wall have been removed, ready for the arrival of two 14.5m x 9m doors from Finland. They'll allow the boats to be wheeled in and out every sailing day.

Work starts this week on building a mezzanine sail loft that runs the full 30m width of the building.

The walls of glass all around the base have both benefits and drawbacks. While the views out are spectacular, it means snooping eyes can also look in - a challenge that Team NZ now face, Nottage says.

“In the design room, we’ve put mirror tints on the windows, which work well during the day. But we also have to be careful at night, so we’ve put in blinds.”

Read the full version of Suzanne's latest story, as always a terrific piece, via the website here.

Emirates Team NZ look out from their new base in the former Viaduct Events Centre during a recent royal visit. Opposite is the old Alinghi team base, now a hotel. Photo and caption: Hamish Hooper (NZL), ETNZ.

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