Shore crew for Team NZ a career pinnacle

Shore crew for Team NZ  a career pinnacle David Whittaker with the America's Cup

22 June 2021

Boatbuilder Davin Whittaker (Clark 1998-2001) has been part of a sea change.

From building monohull boats to multihulls and now the legendary foiling yacht, Davin has been part of a revolution in sailing design over the last decade. Davin’s career in boat building has led to the ultimate highlight, with his involvement in the Emirates Team New Zealand winning campaign for the 36th America’s Cup, staged in the Hauraki Gulf in March 2021.

“I enjoyed this quite a lot and I really wanted to do as much as I could during my apprenticeship. What they offered with these extra block courses was a great opportunity to expand my skill range,” Davin says.

He attributes his skill set as being one of the reasons he was able to join the Team New Zealand shore crew, as he had both building and spray painting experience.

Davin’s role in the recent Team New Zealand campaign started with him painting the test boat and then some general building of carbon fibre parts, another skill learnt in his apprenticeship.

The shore crew were then involved in preparing the race boat for the water, launching, and maintaining the external hull and appendages after every sailing day. This included the foil arm wings and rudders. While Davin had been part of previous builds the recent campaign saw his biggest role with Team New Zealand to date, including painting the AC75 foiling monohull race yacht, Te Retutai.

Boat design has changed significantly over the years and Davin has been part of the sea change, where boats have evolved from displacement sailing to foiling. He says Team New Zealand were the first team to show they could foil using a 72-foot catamaran. “It’s quite a sight to see out on the water”.

“To go from a displacement monohull (such as the Black Magic boat) to foiling catamarans and on to foiling monohull, I’ve seen the transformation and the technology you would not have comprehended
10 years ago,” he says.

While being part of the recent Team New Zealand campaign has been a career highlight for Davin so far, he isn’t resting on his laurels. Davin’s looking ahead to the next campaign and being part of the 37th America’s Cup.

Davin’s next career goal is a challenge, given that he feels he has reached the pinnacle of his career, being part of Team New Zealand and winning the Auld Mug; the oldest tournament in sporting history. But there is a chance to make history again. Davin says winning next time would make New Zealand the first team to win three in a row.

“So for me, as a career goal, that would be my next,” he says.“What a story that would be.”