Above the entrance to the New Zealand Maritime Museum sits KZ1 NEW ZEALAND, also known as the ‘Big Boat’. Mercury Bay Boating Club’s challenger for the 27th America’s Cup, she was the largest single-masted yacht the rules would allow, and although the successful winner of a court case aimed to block her from racing, she was ultimately beaten by San Diego Yacht Club’s catamaran STARS AND STRIPES (USA1).

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KZ1 with mast, looking towards Ferry Building.
Source: Institutional Archives, photograph boxes.

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KZ1 from above, date unknown.
Source: Vernon record, KZ1 (1990.95a)

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KZ1 condition reporting, date unknown.
Source: Vernon record, KZ1 (1990.95c)

KZ1 NEW ZEALAND was designed by Bruce Farr and built by Marten Marine Industries Limited. The vessel is a carbon fibre yacht with a narrow planing hull, a massive 46.5m mast, a deep keel and bulb, complex electronic monitoring systems and a wide-winged deck. Built in just 24 weeks and launched on 27 March 1988, she was purported to be the fastest monohull in the world.

Sir Michael Fay and David Richwhite gifted KZ1 NEW ZEALAND to the Hobson Wharf Auckland Maritime Museum in 1990. At least one of the original concept plans for the Museum shows KZ1 on display at the end of Hobson Wharf, lifted out of the water on a cradle. Early plans also involved public access to the deck of KZ1 via a boarding bridge from the Museum, and video displays about the New Zealand Challenge on board, but structural requirements proved to be too complex and costly to put into practice.  

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KZ1, date unknown.
Source: Institutional Archives, photograph boxes.

After taking part in Waitangi Day celebrations in the Bay of Islands, the yacht went on display on the hardstand on Princes Wharf outside the Ports of Auckland building in May 1990. KZ1 was moved to the current site on the Eastern Viaduct in mid 1993, just in time for the Museum’s opening.

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KZ1 on Princes Wharf, date unknown.
Source: Institutional Archives, photograph boxes.

 

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Installation of KZ1 on the Eastern Viaduct.
Source: Institutional Archives, photograph boxes. Arrival & installation of KZ1.

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KZ1 at the Museum entrance, Opening Day, 1993.
Source: Institutional Archives, photograph boxes.

It's been 25 years since the Museum's opening and KZ1 NEW ZEALAND has remained loyal in it' display at the main entrance of the Museum. In early 2019, the Museum plans to refresh the vessel's display, restoring the cradle and carrying out maintenance work on the vessel itself to ensure its lasting prominence and place in the Viaduct. 

 

References:

Bearings vol. 2 no. 2 p.4 – The birth of a “Big Boat” by Rodney Wilson
Bearings vol. 2 no. 2 p. 47 – Museum news
1990.95 – NZMM object file for KZ1 NEW ZEALAND

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