Published: Monday, 29 January 2018

The 2018 NZ Millennium Cup has come to a close and Ammonite has taken the series, with former 2016 and 2017 champion Tawera, hot on her heels.

Ammonite Wins Nz Millennium Cup 1

(Photo: Jeff Brown)

The gathered owners, captains and tacticians were introduced to a new concept in superyacht handicap, which gained universal approval from competitors. The handicap for each boat is split: 50 per cent applied to create a staggered start, and the balance added to the finish line.

Out on the water the first start was postponed due to a delay in the northeast seabreeze coming in, though that left time for special guests to join the fleet.

When first Tawera headed over the line toward the Orams Marine mark, followed by Sassafras, Enso, Janice of Wyoming, Ammonite and Silvertip – they were joined by one of the largest pods of dolphins seen in the regatta’s history.

The quick dash to the Orams Marine mark saw the handicap ratings come into their own with four boats rounding the mark within three minutes of each other.

It was on the other side of the mark however where the tone was being set for the day’s racing; Ammonite held off Silvertip as they headed for the finish line off Long Beach in a gybing duel where Silvertip couldn’t find a lane to pass Ammonite.

Race two was the longer course of the day and Sassafras and Tawera were away first in a light but building breeze. However, that breeze abated for 20 minutes or so, disadvantaging the mid-fleet starters.

Silvertip searching for a fresher breeze was the only yacht starting on starboard tack heading to the left-hand side of the course, the remainder of the fleet betting on a port tack to the right.

Ammonite was introduced to her first taste of the Nine Pin when she rounded it at the head of the fleet, executing a slick gennaker hoist to mark the occasion as she headed for home.

Sassafras followed just a few minutes behind her, with Silvertip sweeping past the mark a couple of seconds after that as the Bay of Islands Sailing Week TP52 fleet filled the waters around them with a multitude of sails.

Then it was a downwind race to the finish line. The Bay of Islands was dotted with the sight of full sails as the fleet entered its second gybing duel for the day.

It was tight right to the end, but at the line it was Ammonite which bested Silvertip, crossing 2m 30s in front of the repeat campaigner.

The New Zealand Millennium Cup is organised by the NZ Marine Export Group and a group of New Zealand superyacht figures.

The NZ Millennium Cup is supported by a number of sponsors, including platinum sponsor Orams Marine, and gold sponsors Smuggler Marine, Bay of Islands Marina, Doyle Sails New Zealand and Servcorp.

Silver sponsors include OnFire Design, Breed Media, COAST New Zealand, Events Clothing, Southern Spars/North Sails, Upholstery Specialists and Martronics EAL.