Six months out from the commencement of the NZ Millennium Cup 2017 (24 – 27 January) and momentum is building faster than recent years with a series of rapid-fire early entries from Janice of Wyoming, Steinlager 2, Tawera and Antaeus. Commentators speculate this is due to unprecedented media interest in 2016’s regatta and a growing appreciation of combining racing, cruising and refit work on New Zealand’s shores.
“Last year’s regatta saw the largest fleet race since the dawn of the millennium in 2000 and enjoyed media reach of over 31 million people,” says NZ Marine Export Group chairman Stuart Robinson. “2017’s event is expected to swell in rank and coverage yet again.”
Fresh from the Superyacht Cup in Palma, platinum sponsor Orams Marine’s managing director Craig Park says that “interest in racing south has matured into a driver - seasoned skippers and owners are looking to our shores for their next adventure as well as refit work.”
“We have another fully booked season with several high quality boats coming to us for refit or returning to Orams Marine Village; we see this as reflecting a growing understanding of what New Zealand offers in terms of both Kiwi craftsmanship and cruising. Two more superyachts we have undertaken significant refits on are tipped to enter the 2017 NZ Millennium Cup within the next few weeks (one of which will be new to the regatta). We look forward to giving crew a fantastic event to enjoy when they come down.”
This theme of growth and the recognition of New Zealand as a premiere destination for combining racing, refit and new build is echoed by gold sponsors Yachting Developments. “With our new build of 33.83m sloop Cygnus Montanuslaunching recently in Auckland, we see the event as being an excellent way to attract interest and investment in the New Zealand marine industry,” says Ian Cook, managing director, Yachting Developments.
In a move to ensure last year’s winner Tawera “sails to her potential,” owner Mike Mahoney plans to undertake an upgrade of systems here in New Zealand whilst ridding the Ron Holland-designed ketch of excess fuel and cruising gear. In addition, the world-renowned designer himself is set to return to New Zealand to compete in the regatta aboardTawera.
Sporting sail wardrobes fitted by gold sponsor Doyle Sails New Zealand, Yachting Developments’ alumni Steinlager 2, andAntaeus have both announced their return to the Pacific Cup division.
“Remaining true to Steinlager 2’s roots, we’ll have a mix of world-renowned Kiwi sailors aboard along with three positions for promising young sailors to test their mettle in our defence of the Pacific Cup title,” says skipper Alistair Moore. “We’re tuning our sail wardrobe this year in preparation for another fiercely contested race.”
Antaeus, now jointly-owned by Charles St. Clair Brown and Peter Harris, has had a recent upgrade to her systems in Auckland. With several "sailing legends" due to sail aboard her, competition is heating up in a regatta that will combine a mix of seasoned campaigners and up-and-coming new crew.
“The NZ Millennium Cup is a fantastic showcase of both New Zealand's marine industry and the beautiful surroundings that visiting superyachts can enjoy,” says Doyle Sails New Zealand’s managing director Chris McMaster. “We are proud to have been long-term supporters of the Cup and look forward to 2017's regatta.”
Famous for whisking the owner of Kealoha to the doors of a waiting helicopter after finishing seconds behind regatta-winner Tawera last year, gold sponsor Smuggler Marine’s amphibious tenders will be returning as the event’s chase boats.
“We’re passionate about sharing our beautiful coast-line and warm Kiwi hospitality with our guests. We look forward to offering a truly door-to-door service on our unique amphibious craft,” says Smuggler Marine’s managing director David Pringle.
Gold sponsor Far North Holdings’ chairman Ross Blackman is equally enthusiastic to introduce competitors to the “unequalled lure of this subtropical micro-region comprising 144 islands with white-sand beaches, turqoise waters and abundant marine life.”
Onfire, a full service branding and digital design agency specialising in the marine industry, will also return as silver sponsors.