North Sails LOFT NEWS
2020 MILLENIUM CUP
Clients Dominate in Numbers
The 2020 Millenium Cup had an outstanding showing of North clients. Client entries included Sassafras, 34.2 m Royal Huisman-built sloop. Silvertip, which was built in New Zealand by Yachting Developments, 54.6m classic-lined Adele, new entry Kawil, designed by Sparkman & Stephens, and the 40m Janice of Wyoming, which has competed in almost every Millennium Cup event since the inaugural regatta in 2000.
The 34.1 m Kawil dominated the results on corrected time, winning four of the five races, but Wills says the regatta is about more than just competition. The social side of the event also makes it one of the most enjoyable of the calendar, with the casual, holiday atmosphere of Russell and opportunities for owners and crews to mingle, giving it a point of difference to overseas regattas. Another popular event is the Tawera rum-barrel challenge, where yacht crews have the chance to race each other in rowing skiffs off the beach.
“It’s more of a shorts-and-sandals type thing, rather than long pants and collars,” Wills says. “The owners seem to really enjoy the atmosphere and the Kiwi hospitality.” The 2020 regatta was sailed in prime Bay of Islands conditions, with bright sunshine, warm temperatures, and daily afternoon sea breezes. With the natural beauty of the bay and the islands themselves, the scene was complete with regular sightings of dolphins and other sea life.
“There was some really great close racing, too. Although the boats start on a staggered grid, a few minutes apart, on the racecourse, they were quite often close together,” Wills says. “The owners particularly enjoy that aspect of the racing.”
All five entries this year were carrying a North Sails inventory, and representatives from the company sailed on each of the boats, including international guests Kimo Worthington and Mike Toppa. North Sails local experts also raced, including Andrew Wills and Matt Smeaton, superyacht project manager for the Pacific aboard Sassafras. America’s Cup and big-boat legend Tom Dodson, who works with superyacht clients around the world from his New Zealand base raced with Silvertip.
“The regatta is important to North Sails because so many of major clients are taking part,” Wills says. “It’s an opportunity for us to sail with them, talk to them about their needs and make sure they are getting the best possible service.” Sassafrass was also sporting a new set of 3Di OCEAN sails for the regatta.
“It gave the boat a whole new look, with the black sails,” says Smeaton. “OCEAN has been developed not for grand-prix racing but specifically for superyachts, but being able to make the sails in black can give quite a race look.”
The new main, genoa and staysail, plus a new gennaker, were all designed by America’s Cup expert and North Sails designer Burns Fallow and finished at North Sails’ Auckland loft.
“This regatta was the first time the new sails were used in a high-profile regatta, and we noticed an improvement in the boat’s performance,” Smeaton says. “Our speed was above polars from the year before on all points of sail.”
Smeaton says North 3Di sails are becoming the industry standard for superyachts, respected for their durability and reliability. OCEAN has the highest Ultra PE fibre content of any 3Di product, reducing bulk, weight, and stiffness while retaining ultimate breaking strength.
“It’s a big purchase, so owners want to be sure they’re getting it right,” he says. “We and the other companies in the North Technology Group, such as Southern Spars and Future Fibres, have spent a lot of time in development to make sure we can deliver the best possible rig and sails package.”
To support customers at the regatta, North Sails was able to use its Opua loft to perform quick repairs between race days and sent up its Auckland-based crane-truck to help move the large sails around.
“We were able to get sails into the loft within an hour. One of the owners commented to me how impressed he was by how quickly we could get them off the boat and to the loft to get fixed,” Wills says.
Next year’s Millennium Cup superyacht racing event in the Bay of Islands is going to be a showstopper, judging from the 2020 event, held in late January. While just five yachts took to the racecourse this year, more than five times as many are expected to grace Northland waters before the 2021 America’s Cup. North Sails New Zealand Sail Expert Andrew Wills says next year’s regatta will be both longer and held slightly later in the season, and will include the J Class classic yachts also coming to New Zealand for the America’s Cup.
“They’re talking about 25 superyachts for next year, maybe more, plus the J Class fleet,” he says. “We’re a long way down the line with planning now we have an idea of how huge it’s going to be. For anyone who is around in the Bay in February next year, it’s certainly going to be a must-see.”