A unique partnership between Lotto NZ, Coastguard and Emirates Team New Zealand sees America’s Cup chase boats return to water, refitted as high-spec new rescue vessels for Coastguard thanks to $9.8 million of lottery funding.

When the crew of Coastguard Great Barrier received their brand new, high-spec rescue boat yesterday, they had a lot of people to thank.

Theirs was the first of 26 new vessels to be added to Coastguard New Zealand’s fleet this summer, thanks to a unique partnership with Lotto NZ and Emirates Team New Zealand - 100 percent funded by a $9.8 million lottery grant made possible by the millions of Kiwis who play Lotto NZ games each year.

Originally used as chase boats during this year’s America’s Cup, the boats have been refitted to meet the specific demands of Coastguard service and rebranded for Coastguard units across the country that had been identified as having ageing vessels and limited capacity to fundraise.

Over the coming months, 18 vessels customised to the specific demands of the areas they patrol will be delivered to Coastguard units from Houhora in the north to Dunedin in the south. A further two vessels will be retained as training boats for centralised crew-training requirements, with another two on standby to support units as and when required. Projects over the coming 12-24 months will see a further four vessels delivered to other units with more bespoke needs.

Great Barrier's new Coastguard Rescue Vessel (CRV) 'Waitoa Barrier Rescue' is a 12.5m Rayglass Protector featuring an elevated cabin and powered by twin 350hp Mercury outboard engines. Capable of continuous operations at speeds up to 40 knots, this high-speed rescue vessel is well equipped to enable the team at Coastguard Great Barrier to service the boating public around the island and beyond.

Coastguard New Zealand Chief Executive, Callum Gillespie, says the new CRVs will enable volunteers to continue their life-saving work in their communities.

“It's fantastic to finally start to deliver the 4UNZ fleet to communities around New Zealand - with Great Barrier being a well-deserving unit to start. Great Barrier's current vessel is from the 2000 America's Cup so this community is well overdue an upgrade – like many Coastguard units across Aotearoa. This small crew might serve a small community, but surrounded by water, the unit needs a vessel with speed, capability and endurance to support people across the Hauraki Gulf,” he said.

“COVID-19 has delayed the rollout, but well done to Rayglass for completing these fitouts during lockdown. We also couldn't have done this without our partners Emirates Team New Zealand and Lotto New Zealand, through the $9.8 million lottery grant. We thank them for their unwavering support in ensuring units around New Zealand can continue to save lives at sea for years to come.”

Lotto NZ Chief Executive, Chris Lyman, says supporting the vital work of Coastguard units across the country is what Lotto NZ is all about.

“Lotto NZ exists to generate essential funding for New Zealand communities – it’s why we do what we do. The positive impact these high-spec vessels will have on communities around the country cannot be underestimated, with each one helping Coastguard do its incredible work of saving lives at sea.”

“We’re incredibly proud to help make this possible – and at the end of the day, each of these boats is thanks to the millions of Kiwis who pick up a ticket for a Lotto NZ game. It really is a great example of Kiwis helping Kiwis.”

Emirates Team New Zealand CEO, Grant Dalton, says that their involvement in this unique partnership remains a source of pride for the whole team.

“Coastguard are the unsung heroes of our waters around the country and so it’s great to see the same vessels that supported us freshly refitted and taking to the water again to help them save lives.”

As for what this first of the new boats means for the Aotea/Great Barrier community – we’ll leave the final word to one of their unsung heroes, Coastguard crew member Brent Henderson.

“With one of the most challenging stretches of New Zealand water around us, we have in the past had to venture out in 60-knot winds and six-metre swells. This new purpose-designed boat will not only help to keep us safe responding to distress calls in these extreme environments, but look after our community and the many boaties who venture this way and beyond.”

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