The superyachts contesting the New Zealand Millennium Cup Pacific Series in Auckland this week raced around an inner harbour course for their second of four races during the superyacht regatta. Winner of race one, 33.8 metre Sailing Yacht (SY) Silvertip made it two wins from two when she crossed the line first in Robinson Marine Interiors race two.
Following the previous evening's captains' briefing, race officials and yacht captains also met again at 9:00am to review weather conditions and the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series race schedule to ensure that conditions were suitable for the superyachts - all 33 metres or more in length - to sail in the confined harbour situation.
The original 11:30am start time was delayed 90 minutes to accommodate the arrival of three large commercial ships at the Ports of Auckland.
Race officer Hal Wagstaff, of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, also amended the handicap system applied to the superyachts for their allocated starting time and order. Race one's start order was Naos, Thalia, Silvertip and Janice of Wyoming, with the division two entry of Ragtime five minutes after Janice of Wyoming. This order was revised to see Naos followed by Thalia, Zenji which raced for the first time today, Janice of Wyoming and Silvertip, then Ragtime.
Millennium Cup organising committee member Owen Rutter is part of the crew onboard Silvertip. From his on-the-water perspective, Rutter comments that the revised start order and light winds meant it took some time for the faster yachts to catch the slower ones.
"And that's as it's meant to be in these IRC handicap races - the aim is to have the yachts finish the course as close to each other as possible. Today, Silvertip won by just 15 seconds from Janice of Wyoming and when you're talking a 39.6 metre yacht and a 33 metre yacht, that's pretty close racing.
"Interestingly both Silvertip and Janice of Wyoming were designed by Ed Dubois of Dubois Naval Architects in the United Kingdom. Both were also built in New Zealand - Silvertip by Yachting Developments in 2001 and Janice of Wyoming in 2005 by Alloy Yachts," adds Rutter. "In our Gulf Island race yesterday, Ed steered Silvertip for some of the race so that's great to have the yacht's designer able to race her in New Zealand waters during our Millennium Cup series."
During the yachts' two circuits around the short inner harbour course, they started off Princes Wharf, sailed east towards Orakei and out towards Rangitoto for a short stretch, around a mark and back into the harbour to turn again near Princes Wharf.
"In the light winds with rain throughout most of the race, slowly but surely Janice of Wyoming and Silvertip caught the others," says Rutter. "Behind us, the 19.8 metre Ragtime - another yacht built in New Zealand with some fantastic race heritage - proved to be the fastest boat around the course today. Having started five minutes behind Silvertip, Ragtime came through the fleet to finish third overall just three-and-a-half minutes behind us. That was great sailing from Chris Welsh and his crew on Ragtime. Naos and Thalia finished very close together and Zenji - the largest in the fleet - crossed the line last."
The Millennium Cup also hosted a golf day for sponsors and non-sailing superyacht crews today. Six teams of four teed off at the scenic Gulf Harbour Country Club for the Integrated Marine Group golf challenge.
Mark Wightman, chairman of NZ Marine which developed and organises the Millennium Cup superyacht regatta, was at the golf day and said a fantastic game was enjoyed by all. Wightman also flew out to Rakino Island to meet up with Millennium Cup guests who travelled to the island on MY Acheron. Also hosted by Millennium Cup sponsor Integrated Marine Group, media and guests enjoyed lunch at Hurakia Lodge, an exclusive luxury retreat recently completed on the Hauraki Gulf island.
Points are awarded on a reverse basis, so Silvertip has now has two points, Janice of Wyoming four points, Thalia six and Naos eight. The yacht with the least number of points after the event's four races will win the New Zealand Millennium Cup for 2009.
The final two races will be sailed on Wednesday 11 February and will comprise two circuits of a triangular course off Takapuna Beach. Officials will confirm the scheduled start time of 11:30am at this evening's captains' briefing.