16 December 2020
The official opening of America’s Cup Race Village was commenced on the morning of 15 December in Auckland Viaduct harbour and Wynyard Quarter with a small Dawn Ceremony with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei who blessed the village and its new structures with Karakia and Waiata Tawhito.
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, have played a key role alongside event organisers and officials to provide support to help ensure a world class and successful experience for all taking part and visiting Auckland during the various events.
The ceremony marked a significant milestone for all of the event management team at America’s Cup Event Ltd (ACE) and the Challenger of Record AC36 (COR36), who have been working around the clock for the past 6 months especially, to ensure the delivery of a world class race village and sailing spectacle for the public of Auckland and New Zealand to enjoy for the summer ahead.
America’s Cup Event Ltd COO Steve Dunbar said, “It has taken a huge effort by a lot of people to overcome a lot of hurdles this year to get to this point. It makes me incredibly proud to take a minute today to appreciate the work of the team to get us to the day, the opening of the America’s Cup Race Village.”
“We have some excellent family friendly activations and facilities down here. The best part is that it is free to visit and be part of what will be one of the world’s largest sporting events in 2021.”
The dawn village opening was closely followed up by the official opening ceremony of the PRADA America’s Cup World Series and PRADA Christmas Race hosted by COR 36 with a Powhiri , a traditional Maori welcome to the overseas challengers, led by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei
A warm welcome to all of the visitors to Tāmaki Makaurau for the America’s Cup was also echoed in the welcome speeches of dignitaries, Minister Hon. Stuart Nash and Auckland Mayor, Hon. Phil Goff.
Joining the host dignitaries on stage was COR 36th CEO representative in Auckland and Title Sponsor Liaison Francesco Longanesi Cattani as well as the Italian Ambassador in New Zealand Francesco Calogero, the United States of America Vice Ambassador Kevin Covert and the Consul General in Auckland (and deputy Governor of the Pitcairn Island) Robin Shackell.
The opening of the first AC36 lead up regattas was concluded with the introduction of the four teams and their crew by the words of America’s Cup legend Bruno Trouble from COR36.
Present at the ceremony was INEOS TEAM UK with Sir Ben Ainslie, New York Yacht Club American Magic with skipper Terry Hutchinson and helmsman Dean Barker, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team with skipper Max Sirena and the two helmsmen Francesco Bruni and James Spithill and finally the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand with their full sailing team collectively.
Francesco Longanesi, the COR36 CEO representative in Auckland, said: “This was an impressive ceremony, dense with meaning and cultural references; one you will never forget.”
“The village is now open, and this is an achievement in itself: to accomplish the work under the many unpredictable and difficult circumstances which occurred, respecting the deadlines and the timing without compromising the top quality standards to which we had committed to, has been a great success. On behalf of Patrizio Bertelli – CEO of the PRADA Group – I would like to extend his appreciation, thanks and congratulations to all the workers, teams and suppliers who have contributed to this success”.
Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton was especially pleased to have the America’s Cup Race Village open and the racing about to begin. “It is really satisfying to look around and see the vibrant village open and ready for the public to enjoy everything great about Auckland, New Zealand and the America’s Cup over the next few months. And now it is time for racing to begin, for the amazing AC75’s to do battle out on Auckland Waitematā Harbour.”
At the end of the ceremony, the four teams headed back out on the water for one final day of practice racing before the start of the PRADA ACWS Auckland on Thursday 17 until Saturday 19 December, with the PRADA Christmas Race on Sunday 20 December.