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NZ Millennium Cup begins next week

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

When next week’s NZ Millennium Cup begins it will be full to the brim with returning captains, repeat sponsors and famous figures which have returned year after year since the inaugural edition in 2000.

Over 21 years, New Zealand’s Millennium Cup has built a reputation for proving hard to forget.

The regatta, which first ran alongside the 2000 America’s Cup, and since held in Auckland, the Bay of Islands, and Mallorca, will attract captains, entries, sponsors, and sailors who are long-time participants when the 15th edition begins on 15th February in the Bay of Islands.

Captain Kalle Ebner will return with classic sailing yacht Aschanti IV, with both yacht and captain having raced in the first-ever edition of the NZ Millennium Cup 21 years ago. Meeting him on the course will be fellow 2000 competitor, Captain Wayne Avery, at the helm of Miss Silver; a New Zealand-built yacht ready to race on her home waters.

Adding to the regatta’s continuity is the presence of Robert Bicket, flag officer of the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) Cowes. The RYS was the birthplace of the America’s Cup, a fitting link for a regatta which began as a way to pay tribute to the superyachts joining the festivities of the first America’s Cup held in New Zealand.

Platinum sponsor, Orams Marine - an Auckland-based refit facility which services superyachts from across the world - has been front and centre in preparing yachts to race since 2000.

"Yachts come to us pre-racing for everything from new paint, to a weight check, to the fitting of a new rig, says Orams Marine’s Craig Park. "It’s fantastic to have been working with these superyachts, before we see them out racing on the waters of the Bay of Islands."

Fellow platinum sponsor, Royal Huisman will have yachts from across its history on display. Since entrant Whirlwind XII - the shipyard’s first superyacht - was delivered in the eighties, the Netherlands-based shipyard has delivered a total of 33 yachts over 30 metres, including 34.2m custom yacht, Sassafras, which will be returning to racing, as a regular competitor since 2015.

Though Whirlwind XI (1986) and Sassafras (1999) are built in different styles, keen observers will spot the Royal Huisman hallmarks of innovation, and an ultimate high level of quality and attention to detail, which has remained the most important trademark for the shipyard until today. A Royal Huisman yacht is designed and constructed to be as trouble-free and operationally efficient as can be, recognising that the oceans are a testing environment, and meaning the two vessels’ performance on the track is set to be a feature of this year’s racing.

New Zealand businesses continue their support of this event, with companies like luxury goods producer Coast New Zealand which has been involved with the regatta over many years, after its formation 18 years ago. Likewise, luxury Bay of Islands lodge, Eagles Nest is a multi-year sponsor, along with innovative New Zealand company ENL; the ground-breaking software which many of the superyachts carry.

Running from 15-18 February, 2021, the NZ Millennium Cup regatta is organised by the NZ Marine Export Group and is the longest running superyacht regatta in the South Pacific.

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