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Scuttlebutt Photos: Tiara

(May 24, 2004) In what is believed to be a world-first, a helicopter was successfully landed on the aft deck of a privately-owned sailing yacht in Auckland recently. The EC130 seven-seat helicopter landed on the new super sloop Tiara anchored in the Waitemata Harbour in the city.

At 54m, Tiara, built by Alloy Yachts, is the largest superyacht to be built in New Zealand. It was another first for New Zealand-based sparmaker Southern Spars which devised a system to get backstays on the 63m mast and the 21m boom out of harmís way.

For landings and take-offs, the twin backstays have to be disconnected. The rig was designed with swept-back spreaders, so that it remains supported without backstays. The boom is swung out to one side, the pushpit and aft-deck stanchions are removed and the yacht is ready for the helicopter to land. The aft deck has landing lights sunk into the teak and the yacht has aviation communications systems.

The rig will clear, but only just, the bridge of the America's which spans the Panama Canal, an important consideration for a yacht that will be based in the Caribbean. A few days after the helicopter landing, Tiara departed Auckland, heading across the Pacific for Panama via French Polynesia on its way to the Mediterranean.

Photos by Ivor Wilkins

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