It isn’t often that a 317 metre cruise ship plays an active part in a superyacht race, but the 2017 New Zealand Millennium Cup and Bay of Islands Sailing Week added a bit of spice on their first day of racing.
Using the Celebrity Solstice ship as a buoy at the start line, the racing in the two events got off to an interesting start after delays due to a lack of wind in the Bay of Islands.
This came as an extra thrill for those aboard the 120,000 tonne ship, which had made a day stop at Paihia.
New Zealand Marine Export Group have been on board since the early days of the Millennium Cup and helped instigate the change of location from Auckland.
CEO Peter Busfield said in all his years working the event, he hadn’t seen weather conditions like the ones on display pre-race.
“It’s odd. I’ve never seen weather like this for the Millennium Cup – dark skies and no wind,” he said.
Busfield, who works in Auckland, has been part of the Millennium Cup since its inception in 2000.
The event coincided with New Zealand’s America’s Cup regatta, where they defeated Prada Challenge.
“Historically we ran the event to coincide with the America’s Cup, but now we run it as an annual event on the superyacht circuit and it is set to become the premier superyacht regatta of the South Pacific.”
“Numbers are really good this year, we struggled for a while when NZ lost the America’s Cup and we put in a tough effort to sell New Zealand as a good sailing destination for superyachts.”
The eight superyachts, as well as numerous boats competing in the Bay of Islands Sailing Week, set off from the edge of Tapeka Point, just down the road from Russell.
They made their way through the first of three races across a 26 nautical mile course which saw them go around Ninepin Island and duck into Kerikeri.
Eight superyachts will slug it out for the Millennium Cup during three days of competition.
Among them will be about 100 TP52s and sports boats competing in the Bay of Islands Sailing Week.
The ninth NZ Millennium Cup will see repeat campaigners face off against new entries in the race for the title.
Forty metre Janice of Wyoming returns to the Cup for the sixth time, with the Ed Dubois design’s familiarity with New Zealand waters and her fiercely competitive crew making her one to watch on the water.
Her fellow Alloy Yachts build, and 2016 winner, Tawera will again join the fleet, with owners Mike and Tracy Mahoney set to defend the title as she returns to the fleet for the second time.
Silvertip cuts a recognisable figure on the course.
Built by gold sponsor Yachting Developments, her shark-like ability to hunt down her competition after a Mark Foy start is legendary among spectators.
The three new entries of Pumula, Cavallo and Farfalla won’t make it easy on the experienced campaigners though. The name of 37-metre Pumula, may mean rest in Zulu, but the Royal Huisman is sure to show a strong turn of speed on the course.
Southern Wind’s Farfalla is a yacht built for performance which will cut a sleek figure amongst the boats on the Bay, while high speed, carbon performance yacht, 43-metre Cavallo is sure to thrill spectators.
New Zealand legend, Steinlager 2, is set to thrill local crowds, as she races around the course in top condition after her extensive 2014 refit.
Joining her in the Pacific Division is returning 2015 entry Antaeus.