The vessel, which is called Boat 1550 BC, immediately began to take on water when it was lowered into Dover Harbour.
The boat is half the size of an original Bronze Age boat which was unearthed in Dover in 1992.
"It didn't go to plan so we had a bit of a naming ceremony instead," the BBC quoted a spokeswoman of the Canterbury Christ Church University as saying.
"They had the boat carefully placed in a crane hammock but it filled up straight away," she said.
No-one was in the boat during its launch.
A team of specialist archaeologists spent more than three months building the vessel on the Roman Lawns at Dover Museum.
Boat 1550 BC is a half-size replica of a Bronze Age boat excavated in Dover The university's spokeswoman said: "They are going to patch it up and try to do this again.
"It's a bit disappointing for them but they were so behind schedule they could not do their test run."
Boat 1550 BC is the first stage of a three-year programme of events which Canterbury Christ Church University is helping to co-ordinate, the report said.
The replica boat will form the centrepiece of a multilingual exhibition which opens in Boulogne-sur-Mer on June 30. In December the boat moves to Belgium and returns to Dover in July 2013.
The original 3,500-year-old boat was excavated by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust near to the museum in 1992.
The project is supported by the European Union and brings together seven partners from Britain, France and Belgium.