Grey Auckland skies were looming over the Hauraki Gulf as the NZ Millennium Cup’s warriors lined up under the Harbour bridge to fight for line honours in the second day of racing.
Sea Toy was first to head for open seas, with yesterday’s winner Zefiro powering away after to the cheers of the chase boats. Quickly unfurling her pink gennaker, Zefiro provided a hot point on the horizon to chase down for the yachts yet to come.
Lady racer, Janice of Wyoming, followed after, flicking the Hauraki Gulf from her bow, her start heralding a good omen for the day’s racing with sails filling and the skies clearing above her. Silvertip’s gennaker filled just as she prowled over the line, tearing up the harbour in hot pursuit.
And then, as the committee boat’s horn sounded, Ohana let fly, yellow gennaker curled at the ready. The race was on; and every yacht was in it to win.
Approaching the Gulf Harbour buoy, Silvertip was looking strong, on the prowl after Janice of Wyoming, who had gained around a minute on Zefiro as Janice pulled in her iconic bronco gennaker, bucking in the wind.
Rounding the Haystack, Ohana had decreased the gap to around three minutes. And then it was the dash up the harbour, all yachts fighting it out for supremacy.
Silvertip, Ohana and Sea Toy were within hail of each other as they flew through the gap between volcano, Rangitoto, and Auckland’s North Shore. With a flick of her tail, Sea Toy was through the gap between the two larger yachts. Ohana proved all powerful grace though, as she steamed back up and past Sea Toy, Silvertip tacking away towards the suburbs, giving local boaties an up-close thrill.
Zefiro was tearing for home, sweeping down the harbour with a grace that belied her power, a small admiring fleet of locals in her wake.
Then it was between Silvertip and Ohana once more as they tacked again and bore down on each other, beating a path up the harbour towards home. Silvertip looked to be holding her lead as they tacked and tacked again, each fighting for every metre’s supremacy.
Zefiro shot over the line, at 16.00.28pm to the cheers of the committee boat, maintaining the effortless and graceful impression she’d kept up over the race right to the end, despite her speed.
Ohana and Silvertip were neck and neck as the line approached; too close for chase boat or crew to pick the winner. Until with a surge of power, Ohana found a higher gear and flew over the line metres in front of Silvertip, each crew applauding the other. The final result; Ohana 16.07.59. Silvertip 16.08.17, Janice of Wyoming 16.20.41 and Sea Toy 16.36.00, but ultimate winner of the day was the nimble, steady Zefiro.
With the sun lowering over the city the owners and crew are now sitting back with a Mount Gay Rum, watching the sun sink from their prime position on pontoons kitted out with Coast outdoor furniture, complete with DJ, and getting down to the serious business of celebrating a beautiful day’s racing.
And plotting how best to get ahead of smooth, implacable Zefiro, whose finesse has made her a true champion and yacht to watch.