A superyacht regatta in one of the world's great natural playgrounds
All photos ©Jeff Brown Breed Media
After victories on day one and two Silencio was chasing the hat trick on the final day of racing, but it was not to be as Sassafras took line honours.
The final day of racing at the New Zealand Millennium Cup 2015 – NZ Marine Race Day – dawned sunny and with winds of 18 knots. With two wins under her belt 50m Silencio (Perini Navi) was the clear leader on the scoreboard, but with 39.7m Janice of Wyoming (Alloy Yachts), 37m Bliss (Yachting Developments) and 33.8m Silvertip (Yachting Developments) all tied in second place you could almost taste the levels of competition in the air, and 34.2m Sassafras (Royal Huisman) was not giving up without a fight either. In the sub-30m Pacific Cup Division, with one win apiece, it was to be a case of the winner takes it all between Antaeus and Steinlager 2.
The course set for the day was the longest of the event, totalling 30nm. Once again Silencio was first to cross the line at 11:30, but with a much shorter lead was quickly followed by Antaeus at 11:48, Sassafras at 11:49 and Janice of Wyoming at 12:07. Soon after Steinlager 2 crossed at 12:11 and Bliss at 12:12 and Silvertip at 12:19. As she powered her way across the line Silvertip’s distinctive hull was flanked by dolphins diving in and out of the waters beside her.
The wind had been steadily building and all yachts moved fast on the run towards the first mark. With much closer start times the racing grounds soon saw various battles for leads emerging. Around Motuterakihi Island buoy the fleet began the beat for the next mark at Red Head buoy with the formation beginning to incrementally uncoil.
By Mark 3, Nine Pin Island, Sassafras had claimed a lead on Silencio, moving into first place. Over the next few marks in the middle of the fleet Bliss was pushing Janice of Wyoming, with both yachts overtaking Silencio on the second rounding of Nine Pin Island, before Bliss also charged ahead of Janice to move into second place. With this new order set, it was held all the way around the remainder of the course.
Bliss pushed to catch Sassafras, making steady gains, but in the end Bliss crossed the line just 31 seconds behind her. The first place was an amazing way for Sassafras to close their first ever regatta and the result embodied their fighting spirit and sailing skills. Two minutes later, third across the line was Janice of Wyoming followed two minutes later by Silvertip who had kept the pressure on to gain ground throughout.
Steinlager 2 was fifth on the line, to win the Pacific Cup, followed by Antaeus and finally Silencio, which had lost ground after struggling to unfurl their spinnaker at an earlier mark. Bliss set to celebrating the end of the regatta immediately, unleashing their sound system to party their way back into port for the final time.
And with that, the racing was over. After heading back to moor up, owners and their crew made their way to the prizegiving, held together with the Bay of Islands Sailing Week prizegiving. The results of the NZ Millennium Cup were the first to be announced and Peter Montgomery, the voice of New Zealand yachting, took to the stage as MC telling the hundreds of onlookers that “The Bay of Islands Sailing Week has been taken to new levels in 2015 with the addition of the Millennium Cup, with exciting and spectacular action on the water.”
Montgomery’s first presentation of the night was a team spirit award, recognising a special contribution and long-term commitment to the NZ Millennium Cup. The award was very deservedly presented to the owners of Silvertip and Janice of Wyoming, who have provided such support to both the event and the New Zealand marine industry over the years.
Next were the results, with the Pacific Cup division announced first. After the day’s divisional win Steinlager 2 were the winners of the Pacific Cup division, followed by Anateus in second place. For the Millennium Cup fifth place went to Sassafras, winners of line honours on day three, followed by Silvertip in fourth place. Third went to a delighted Janice of Wyoming, with Bliss in second place.
But, it was Silencio’s owner and crew who were the ones to lift the coveted trophy, with the group spraying the crowd with champagne in celebration. “Congratulations to the worthy winners, who set such a hot standard on the first and second days,” said Montgomery. “We have loved having you here and look forward to welcoming you back.”
Concluding the Cup, organisers thanked all those who made the event possible, particularly sponsors, but most of all the owners for their crucial part in making the regatta such a success.