After three days of competitive racing in the Bay of Islands north of Auckland, sailing yacht AMMONITE has beaten out 2016 and 2017 winner S/Y TAWERA to become this year’s champion of the New Zealand Millennium Cup.
From the very first day of racing, newcomer AMMONITE showed her competitive spirit, retaining a lead over previous winners SILVERTIP. Crews finished within minutes of each other on the first day and the sailing yachts their competitive nature pushed each of them to perform impressive manoeuvres to stay ahead.
On the final day of racing, spectators were treated to the sight of a pod of dolphins swimming among the fleet in the mouth of the bay, before racing commenced.
The first race of the day was a straight course to the Orams Marine mark and back to the finish line close to Long Beach. SASSAFRAS was first to cross the mark with TAWERA and AMMONITE in close pursuit, the former pushing past competitors ENSO battle through to the finish line first.
“It’s a light air regatta, which makes it very difficult for competitors to find the right places to go and forced them to search for wind,” said ISYR creator and regatta handicapper, Jim Teeters from on-site. “The ones who did that best came outon top.”
Due to a shifting light breeze, the second course ran to Orams Marine mark to finish off Russell. AMMONITE took the lead followed by SASSAFRAS and TAWERA, with ENSO and JANICE OF WYOMING taking up fourth and fifth position. SILVERTIP meanwhile was forced to retire due to a mechanical failure. AMMONITE sailed across the finish line first and her win coupled with her strong performance over the last days of racing secured her the 2018 New Zealand Millennium Cup.
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“There’s no better place in the world to sail,” commented Marcus Blackmore, owner of AMMONITE, during an evening of prize-giving. “Thanks go to all the sponsors and in particular Doyle Sails New Zealand’s Mike Sanderson who helped us understand local conditions,” he continued, saying that he would enjoy defending the title in 2019.
New Zealand is increasing in popularity as a tourist destination as more become aware of its incredible biodiversity and green turtles, dolphins and orcas are commonly spotted along the coast during the summer months. There are a number of beaches and islands for fishing and diving as well as motorised and non-motorised water toys, and the North and South Islands offer great contrasts to discover on a week-long luxury charter. New Zealand can also be used as a launch pad for exploring the islands of the South Pacific such as Fiji. As America’s Cup draws nearer, the facilities at the Auckland marina are sure to expand to welcome even more superyachts.