A superyacht regatta in one of the world's great natural playgrounds
All photos ©Jeff Brown Breed Media
A gracious Bay of Islands morning greeted the NZ Millennium Cup 2016 fleet on NZ Marine Race Day; the second day of racing. Resplendent sun glittering on emerald waters replaced the sulky clouds that had threatened the day prior. After the 19 nautical mile warm up of Day 1, the promise of good wind conditions enabled the pack to enjoy a longer day on the water with a 26 nautical mile course that would truly test the prowess of the fleet.
The blue skies and strong sunshine perfectly offset the stunning Bay of Islands surroundings, with clear bright waters offset by the lush green coastline and white sand beaches. Yachts were joined in the race by some of New Zealand’s beautiful marine life with leaping dolphins and hammerhead sharks streaking through the water alongside the painted hulls. For many competitors it is this unbeatable natural setting paired with the camaraderie and warm Kiwi welcome that makes the NZ Millennium Cup so loved.
As the armada came upon the Nine Pin many yachts battled with dropping winds. Allegro were the first whose sails were to be emptied, then Steinlager II with Antaeus eyeing them up from behind before falling afoul to the same conditions. Whilst Silvertip gave the Nine Pin a wide berth, Janice of Wyoming hair-pinned around with a resounding gasp.
The yachts finally built up speed to move around the course once again but then the wind shifted 180 degrees from a westerly to a nor’easterly as the fleet traversed from the Orams Marine Buoy to the Motuterakihi Island Buoy. The art of war was played out amongst the crew tacticians. The first day under their belt the crews were now well into their stride, with maneuvers being expertly executed and yachts rounding the marks with precision, making every important second count.
Although last off the start line Silvertip made good on their reputation as fierce racers, quickly finding their legs and gaining on the fleet, overtaking boat after boat to claim a well-deserved second place overall. But this was Tawera’s day and she could not be caught, harnessing the wind to carry her round the course and take the victory.
Kealoha kept their focus throughout, holding off Janice of Wyoming and overtaking fellow Hoek design Shamoun to claim third place. Meanwhile, a close battle was underway at the finish line. Janice of Wyoming proved their mastery of the last minute overtake, demonstrated with their win on day one, gaining on Shamoun as they approached the finish line and stealing fourth place at the last minute.
In the Pacific Class Steinlager enjoyed the stronger winds and were uncatchable, crossing the line first overall and taking line honours. Allegro comfortably held her place in towards the front of the fleet throughout the day, crossing the line third overall to take second place in the Pacific Class. Antaeus sailed consistently but were unable to catch the frontrunners, taking third place.
With day two down it is all to play for in an historically unique day for the NZ Millennium Cup; four of the five boats are tied equal first place on five points each.
Crews enjoyed an informal social evening with a barbeque and drinks at race HQ to celebrate the end of another exciting day on the water.
The NZ Millennium Cup is supported by a number of sponsors, including platinum sponsor Orams Marine, and gold sponsors Smuggler Marine, Far North Holdings/Port Opua, Doyle Sails New Zealand and Yachting Developments
Silver sponsors include OnFire Design, Dubois, Breed Media, Integrated Marine Group, Robinson Interiors and Southern Spars/North Sails.
Thanks also goes to Holton Marine, Maxwell Marine, Whiting Power Systems, Harken New Zealand – Fosters, Events Clothing, Kit Carlier Design, McMullen & Wing, Lloyd Stevenson Boatbuilders, Q-West, NZ Marine and Composites Industry Training Organisation, Mount Gay Rum, COAST New Zealand, Hancocks and our media sponsors The Superyacht Owner and Ocean Media.