Published: Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The countdown to the 2015 edition of the New Zealand Millennium Cup is finally over. The event officially began Tuesday night with a skipper’s briefing, followed by an official welcome function in picturesque Russell.

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One of the most anticipated aspects of this year’s event has been the brand new location, with the regatta being hosted in the stunning Bay of Islands for the first time.

Held in conjunction with the Bay of Islands Sailing Week, the seven participants of the Millennium Cup – Janice of Wyoming, Silvertip, Bliss, Sassafras, Silencio, Antaeus and Steinlager 2 – will make a spectacular sight as they join nearly 90 other yachts on the water for the three days of racing.

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Welcoming skippers and owners to the pre-race briefing in the Opua Cruising Club, Ray Haslar, race officer for the joint events, gave the good news of a fine forecast, with clear weather and building breezes expected over the coming week.

The new surroundings did not disappoint with blue skies throughout the day setting the scene for the days ahead. As one of New Zealand’s most beautiful regions, the Bay of Islands is a popular cruising ground for superyachts and will make the ideal backdrop for racing. Many yachts had taken advantage of the day to make final preparations before racing begins, heading out for some practice race time and to fine-tune manoeuvres.

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With the skipper’s briefing complete, the event was officially launched at the formal regatta welcome function. Held in Russell at the Duke of Marlborough, New Zealand’s oldest pub, the event saw owners, skippers, crew, media and industry members receive a traditional Maori welcome and blessing before enjoying some renowned Kiwi hospitality and beverages from Allan Scott Wines and Mount Gay Rum.

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Day One of racing, the Dubois Race Day, commenced at 11.30 on Wed Jan 21, with yachts eagerly awaiting the release of start times and handicaps at the pre-race skipper’s briefing.

On completion of racing, participants will enjoy a Taste of Bay of Islands Function at the 35º South Restaurant, Paihia, which will showcase the best the region has to offer.