A superyacht regatta in one of the world's great natural playgrounds
All photos ©Jeff Brown Breed Media
Day one of racing sees Silencio win the Millennium Cup division and Antaeus takes line honours to win the Pacific Cup division.
Following yesterday’s welcome function at Russell’s historic Duke of Marlborough, the quest for the New Zealand Millennium Cup began today with the Ed Dubois Race Day.
In their first time challenging for the Cup 50m Silencio was first off the mark at 11:30, crossing the line and quickly unfurling their distinctive gennaker. Before racing commenced the yacht and her crew had unleashed their competitive spirit by performing a rousing version of the Haka, guided by members of the local iwi (people of the land).
Next across the line was Antaeus at 11:43 followed by fellow Pacific Division competitor, the iconic Steinlager 2 at 12:04, with the latter making for a distinctive sight as ‘Big Red’ headed off in ready pursuit of the two yachts before her.
With the first three yachts underway, the remaining four circled as they counted down to their start times. Sassafras was across the line at 12:17, quickly followed by Janice of Wyoming at 12:19, Bliss at 12:26 and finally Silvertip at 12:31, executing an extremely slick start.
With fair breezes, the yachts made good progress and by the time the yachts had reached the first mark, the Motuterakihi Island Buoy, Silvertip and Bliss had both overtaken Janice of Wyoming and Sassafras, with Silvertip then moving ahead of Bliss before turning for the second mark, Ninepin Island.
This left Silencio and Antaeus taking the lead, followed in third place by Steinlager. After rounding Ninepin Island, the next mark was Red Head Buoy followed by Roberton Island Buoy and at that point, with winds having dropped slightly, race organisers made the decision to cut the final mark to shorten the course. Antaeus then took the lead towards the finish, taking line honours and first place in the Pacific Division.
But it was Silencio who crossed the line to take victory in the first day of racing, gaining them an all-important first place on the scoreboard for the Millennium Cup. Thrilled with the result, the win was celebrated with champagne by the delighted owner and crew.
With the first two yachts home, next to cross the line was Steinlager 2, which came storming down towards the finish to take third place on the line and second place in the Pacific Division.
Fourth on the line, and second place went to Silvertip which had made good gains, but with the shortened course had lost the legroom they needed to climb the rankings towards the finish. Close behind was Bliss, which claimed the final podium spot to the sound of AC/DCs Highway to Hell, with Janice of Wyoming taking fourth place and Sassafras in fifth.
With racing over for the day the evening’s social function was a Taste of Bay of Islands event at 35° South restaurant in Paihia. Five of the region’s leading wineries were on hand to showcase their range of wines in the beautiful open-air surroundings. After greeting guests MC Peter Montgomery then welcomed the day’s race namesake, Ed Dubois of Dubois Naval Architects, to the stage. “Today was named for Ed Dubois to honour an outstanding designer who has designed an incredible 37 yachts built in New Zealand in the last 30 years,” said Montgomery.
“Ladies and Gentleman, I love New Zealand,” declared Dubois. “It is an honour to have a race named for me, but really it is me who should be thanking the New Zealand marine industry for building such spectacular yachts.” Dubois then went on the thank the visionary owners behind the many Dubois yacht projects built in New Zealand, including the owners of Bliss, Silvertip and Janice of Wyoming who are all long-term supporters of the country. Dubois also paid tribute to the yacht builders of New Zealand, particularly Tony Hambrook, MD of Alloy Yachts, and Ian Cook, MD of Yachting Developments.
After a short talk on the region’s wine offerings from Rod MacIvor of Marsden Estate it was on to the results of the day. Silencio’s victory was then formally announced, followed by spot yacht prizes generously provided by sponsors. Day Two, Ocean Media Race Day, will see the yachts line up again at 11:30 and with two races to go it is still all to play for.