Today, January 20, saw the official start of the 2015 New Zealand Millennium Cup, marked by a skipper’s briefing, followed by an official welcome function in fabulous Russell at the Duke of Marlborough, New Zealand’s oldest pub. One of the most anticipated aspects of this year’s event has been the all-new location, with the regatta being hosted in the beautiful Bay of Islands yacht charter destination for the first time.
Held in conjunction with the Bay of Islands Sailing Week, the seven participants of the Millennium Cup – sailing yacht Janice of Wyoming, superyacht Silvertip, charter yacht Bliss, luxury yacht Sassafras, Silencio yacht, Antaeus and Steinlager 2 – will make a spectacular sight as they join nearly ninety other yachts on the water for the three days of racing.
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 maneuvers.
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 on the event, before enjoying some renowned Kiwi hospitality and beverages from Allan Scott Wines and Mt Gay Rum.
Day One of racing, the Dubois Race Day, will commence at 11.30 on 21 January, 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.