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Emirates Team New Zealand receives messages of support

Less than 10 days out from the all-important Louis Vuitton Finals in San Francisco, the spirits of the Emirates Team New Zealand crew have been buoyed by the well wishes of thousands of New Zealanders.

The messages of support came handwritten on two replica dagger boards, which Toyota took on a nationwide 'Lean with us' tour during June and July.

The tour visited 16 locations around the country: including Queenstown, Dunedin, Christchurch, Rangiora, Nelson, Wellington, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Hastings, Rotorua, Tauranga, Hamilton, Auckland and Whangarei.

Toyota CEO Alistair Davis, General Manager of Marketing Neeraj Lala and 15 Toyota dealers from around New Zealand presented the dagger boards to Emirates Team New Zealand Managing Director Grant Dalton in a short ceremony in San Francisco on Thursday evening (Friday afternoon, New Zealand time).

"These dagger boards are spectacular and when you look at the messages from thousands of Kiwis from back home you can't help but be touched and inspired by them. We really appreciate the effort from all those who signed the boards and from Toyota who made this happen," Grant Dalton said.

"This is a timely boost for the team because from here on the competition gets a whole lot tougher. These dagger boards will remind the guys every day just how much the people back home are behind them."

Neeraj Lala says Toyota built the replica dagger boards and undertook the 'Lean with us' tour to give everyday Kiwis the opportunity to connect with the America's Cup challenge in their own towns and cities.

"We've had a fantastic response from around the country with support from the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, local celebrities and thousands of grassroots Kiwis all signing the dagger boards," Mr Lala says.

The dagger boards and the nationwide 'Lean with us' tour are part of a wider 'Lean with us' campaign to give Kiwis the opportunity to support Emirates Team New Zealand at every stage of their 2013 America's Cup challenge.

'Lean with us' is a play on the AC72 catamaran's ability to foil at spectacular speeds. Toyota has taken the simple concept of 'leaning' (the first step towards foiling), which is fun and appeals to all ages, and turned it into a way for Kiwis everywhere to show their support for the team.

Kiwis can participate in 'Lean with us' through an online competition atwww.leanwithus.co.nz that invites people to submit their best leaning photo, share the photo with friends and family but ultimately show their support for Emirates Team New Zealand.

Prizes include the keys to a Toyota America's Cup Special Edition Landcruiser for a year. Participants at leanwithus.co.nz can boost their prize winning chances by leaning live during races.

For further information, visitwww.leanwithus.co.nz. Ends.