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8 August 2002, 01:10 pm
Victory Challenge Say Goodbye to Cristina
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Americas Cup News

They toasted her in champagne after her last training session. Cristina has done what she can for the Swedish America's Cup challenge and it is an enormous deed her crew gives thanks for.

"NZL 38 (Cristina) has been the cornerstone in our project until now, without her we would never have got this far. We've sailed her continuously since her launch in July 2000. Just this past year we've got 752 effective sailing hours out of her on water."

"This has been achieved without any kind of damage whatsoever. There's hasn't been any serious injuries on board either. She must be the best boat ever built for the America's Cup, she's perfect", says Mats Johansson, project leader of Victory Challenge and strategist on board during the last training session with the former victorious New Zealand Black Magic yacht.

The purchase of NZL 38 was the starting signal for the Swedish America's Cup syndicate. Mats Johansson was given the task of travelling down to Auckland in March 2000 by the challenge initiator media and telecom entrepreneur Jan Stenbeck. That was in conjunction with the last America's Cup final between Team New Zealand and Italy's Prada. He negotiated with all the syndicates on the purchase of a training boat. But it was a boat from Team New Zealand he was really after.

NZL 38, just like her sister boat NZL 32, was built for the America's Cup in San Diego 1995. They were the first boats to be called Black Magic. NZL 38 was the boat that Team New Zealand eventually chose for their participation in the Louis Vuitton Cup that time. She was very successful. She sailed 23 matches in the initial stages and lost only one match on water, but she did lose one more in the courts. NZL 32 was used from the semifinal up to and including the first America's Cup victory over Dennis Conner's Young America.

Not everyone was positive to Team New Zealand's sale of her to a foreign syndicate in 2000. The then skipper Russell Coutts (who later defected to the Swiss Alinghi syndicate) expressed the anger the sale had caused: "It's like giving away technical know-how to a competitor".

The sale was a done deal, however, and NZL 38 was transported by sea from Auckland to Gothenburg, where she arrived at dawn a week before midsummer 2000. The logotypes of Team New Zealand's sponsors and the team's huge silver fern logo were removed and replaced with those of Victory Challenge's sponsors.

What will happen to Cristina now?

"Just now it looks like we'll sell her. Hopefully, she'll get a home here in Auckland, she's a historic boat after all, especially for New Zealand", says Mats Johansson.

Victory Challenge Press/News Editor
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