First-time entry Ammonite claims Millennium Cup

There was no stopping Ammonite, with the first-time entry claiming the prestigious Millennium Cup for 2018.

Ammonite sailed consistently well throughout the regatta. Photo: Breed. 

Ammonite, who represented the Royal Nomuka Yacht Club of Tonga, sailed consistently well over the three days to finish ahead of 2016 and 2017 winners Tarawera.

“There’s no better place in the world to sail,” said Ammonite owner Marcus Blackmore at the prizegiving later that evening. “Thanks go to all the sponsors and in particular Doyle Sails New Zealand’s Mike Sanderson who helped us understand local conditions."

Blackmore also indicated Ammonite would look to defend the title next year if possible.

They were worthy winners over three days of racing in light airs. There were times when racing was delayed but sailors often weren't complaining as a pod of dolphins swam around the fleet in the mouth of the bay. A Silvertip crewmember lay stretched along the yacht’s prod with dolphins in the bow wave beneath him rising up for a closer look, as competitors waited for the breeze to build.

“It’s a light-air regatta, which makes it very difficult for competitors to find the right places to go and forced them to search for wind,” said ISYR creator and regatta handicapper Jim Teeters, who was onsite in New Zealand for the regatta. “The ones who did that best came out on top.” ​

There was no stopping Ammonite, with the first-time entry claiming the prestigious Millennium Cup for 2018.

Phtot: Breed

Two races were possible on the final day.

The first race saw the fleet on a leg straight down to the Orams Marine mark and back to the finish line off Long Beach.

Sassafras was first to the top mark, tacking on the nose of Tawera and Ammonite, and on the final layline to the mark Tawera had to dip Enso.

It was Tawera to the finish line first, however, taking the opening race of the day and securing a series standing four points behind leaders Ammonite and two ahead of challenger Silvertip.

The second race and sixth of the series was a short course to the Orams Marine mark and a finish off Russell, a nod to the changeable light breeze.

Consistent with her strong performance throughout the week, Ammonite rounded the mark first followed by Sassafras and Tawera after the Royal Huisman overhauled her on the first leg. Enso followed, then it was Janice of Wyoming around the mark while high drama unfolded behind her - crowd favourite Silvertip was forced to retire due to a mechanical failure.

Sailing commentator Peter Montgomery closed the regatta as it had started, with his unmistakeable tones ringing out over the waters of the Bay of Islands, and it didn't go unnoticed the increasing number of overseas guests the regatta attracts as word of New Zealand’s cruising grounds spread.

“The NZ Millennium Cup is a nice environment, in a great locale, with very good competitors, and a very friendly atmosphere,” US-based Teeters said with a smile. “It feels good to be here.” 

The New Zealand Millennium Cup is organised by the NZ Marine Export Group and a group of dedicated New Zealand superyacht figures and is supported by a number of sponsors, including platinum sponsor Orams Marine, and gold sponsors Smuggler Marine, Bay of Islands Marina, Doyle Sails New Zealand and Servcorp.

Final Standings from the 2018 Millennium Cup

1. Ammonite
2. Tawera
3. Silvertip
4. Janice of Wyoming
5. Enso
6. Sassafras