On a historic day for British sailing, HRH Princess Anne yesterday named ‘Wight Lightning’, the first ever modern America’s Cup boat to be built in Great Britain.
he 80ft Formula One machine is the yacht that Peter Harrison's GBR Challenge has designed and constructed to carry Britain's hopes at the 31st America's Cup, starting on the 1st October 2002.
GBR Challenge also announced the conclusion of an historic broadcasting deal by the BBC. The BBC will show documentaries, live race and highlights programmes, with regular updates on Grandstand and on BBC online.
Andrew Thompson, Head of New Media, Sport News and Development said "After the successes of the British team in the Olympics, and the amazing exploits of Ellen Macarthur which captured the nation's imagination, the America's Cup and the British challenge have all the potential to be a major British sporting moment at the end of this year.
"For BBC Sport this gives us the opportunity to develop truly innovative coverage which brings together the television and online broadcast - with all our BBC platforms capturing the glamour and excitement of one of the great sporting events."
The naming ceremony took place at the GBR Challenge base in Cowes, less than two miles from the startline of the first ever race for the America's Cup, in 1851. Peter Harrison unveiled the long awaited yacht that the 10 designers developed in under a year and that took the 34 strong build team, 24,000 manhours to build over five months.
HRH the Princess Royal explained her confidence in Peter Harrison's team: "The crew have already shown that they can compete with the best in the world and if the boat behind us is fast, this campaign could really put Great Britain back in the frame in one of the most prestigious competitions in the sporting world."
Harrison commented: "Today is an emotional moment for me, as after all of the months of plotting and planning with David Barnes and Ian Walker, this really brings home that so many of our plans are reaching fruition, making history. I hope and expect that this is the start of something special for Great Britain."
Jason Akers and Brandon Linton were the managers in charge of the boat build, using their combined knowledge of having built five America's Cup yachts previously. The pair worked closely with Technical Group member Jo Richards and Project Manager Paul Jennings.
Peter Harrison reminded the 300 strong audience of the team's commitment to youth as he invited five year old George Pickering, whose entry was chosen from the 18,940 name ideas submitted via Blue Peter, to give the Princess Royal a bouquet of flowers.
Next week, Wight Lightning will be put onto a container ship to begin her five week journey to Auckland.
GBR Challenge's Skipper Ian Walker stated: "Today is an historic day, but it will be looked back upon as even more historic if we can succeed in Auckland. The Louis Vuitton Cup starts in 172 days, and I cannot wait to start racing."