Dominating an exciting 21nm short course that saw competitors round the Nine Pin twice and wind changes challenge seasoned tacticians, Tawera has again taken line honours
Crossing the line 11 minutes in advance of her closest challenger, the Pacific Division’s Antaeus, Tawera commanded racing on NZ Marine Race Day of the 2017 New Zealand Millennium Cup.
“With a healthy ten knot southerly at the start, but forecast to swing around 180degrees to the north, today was always going to be testing for the tacticians and helmsmen,” said Peter Busfield, CEO NZ Marine Export Group.
That southerly wind, an outgoing tide and a 300metre wind shadow in the lee of a looming cruise liner anchored 200-metres from the start line, presented a unique set of conditions that allowed no margin for error.
First and second over the Mark Foy start, Tawera and Antaeus, set the tone of their race as they reached past the committee boat hoisting their spinnakers for faultless starts. Their dual finishes of first place in their respective divisions, the NZ Millennium Cup and Pacific Cup, was a credit to the tactical nous of the skilled sailors onboard.
Third over the start, Pumula, fell foul of the wind shadow, languishing on the start line. Seeing an opportunity, Janice of Wyoming deftly slipped around her windward side and bucked forward – stealing any remaining wind Pumula may have had. Cowboy gennaker unfurling, Janice of Wyoming strode out in front.
Starting within three minutes of one another, Silvertip, Cavallo and Farfalla nailed starting manoeuvres that saw each hoist their spinnakers as they crossed the starting line. Grappling against one another for an early advantage, intense match racing ensued between Tapeka Point and Roberton Island.
Flitting across the water in a series of artful moves befitting her name, Farfalla (‘Butterfly’) edged past Silvertip to windward and Cavallo to leeward, gaining buoy room at the Orams Marine mark.
Striking out toward the craggily majestic Nine Pin from the mark, Cavallo showed her speed and overtook Silvertip.
As a helicopter buzzed around the great rock, schools of Trevally, Kawhai and Mao Mao dancing on the surface, the wind suddenly emptied from the mouth of the Bay. Farfalla, Cavallo, Silvertip and Pumula, two minutes between them, fought through an area of little breeze. Janice of Wyoming wasn’t safe either, becalmed with the four yachts closing in behind her, while ahead Steinlager 2 approached the next mark, already rounded by Antaeus and Tawera out in front.
New entrants in 2017, Farfalla and classically-elegant Pumula, benefitting from a new whisper of wind, closed in on Janice of Wyoming, passing the seasoned campaigner as they moved toward Motuterakihi Island Buoy.
As the glassy water shifted, and white caps began to appear from the building northerly seabreeze, Tawera, hull newly painted white, could be seen glistening in the distance, as well as Antaeus’ distinctive red kite looming closely behind her. Having already rounded the Nine Pin for the second time, they were on the home straight.
Harnessing the change in conditions, America’s Cup campaigner and Silvertip’s tactician Tom Schnackenberg guided her from last position to second, leading a radically reordered following fleet comprised of Farfalla, Cavallo, Pumula and Janice of Wyoming.
Farfalla gained buoy room on Cavallo at the Motuterakihi buoy, only to lose her lead on the larger yacht as Cavallo took the inside track immediately past the buoy. However, going into the Nine Pin for the last time, Farfalla overtook Cavallo once more.
In a close duel, Farfalla, biting at Silvertip’s tail, was kept in check on the home run by way of an aggressive defence strategy, until a decision by Silvertip to split gybes saw Farfalla gain the lead when they met again. Farfalla cinched second place in the Millennium Cup division, closely followed over the line by Silvertip, and Steinlager 2 in the Pacific Cup division.
Cavallo finished sixth ahead of Janice of Wyoming, who overhauled Pumula in the race for the finish.
The battle for the Pacific Cup is now tied between Antaeus and Steinlager 2 ,as they go into day three of the regatta.
As a focal point for both the local industry and for the global brands looking for more exposure in Asia Pacific, the NZ Millennium Cup has welcomed a number of sponsors on board, including platinum sponsor Orams Marine, and gold sponsors Smuggler Marine, Far North Holdings – Bay of Islands Marina, Doyle Sails New Zealand and Yachting Developments.
Silver sponsors include OnFire Design, Breed Media, COAST New Zealand, Events Clothing and Southern Spars/North Sails.