AC talent signs up for Millenium Cup

Superyacht regatta up the Hauraki Gulf draws big name stars

Friday January 31st 2003, Author: Keith Taylor, Location: Australasia

America's Cup skippers and sailors are signing up for the New Zealand Millennium Cup Superyacht Regatta 2003 starting on 10 February

Cup skippers Dennis Conner, Paul Cayard, and Francesco de Angelis, will race in the four-day event on the Hauraki Gulf. America's Cup Class skippers taking part include Britain's Ian Walker. Designer Bruce Farr is also among the Cup notables who will compete.

50 sailing and motoryachts have now confirmed their entry for the second running of the regatta, inaugurated three years ago on the eve of New Zealand's successful defense of the America's Cup. Organizers are anticipating up to ten late entries from overseas superyachts visiting Auckland, and from last minute charterers.

Competition will open on Monday, 10 February, with two days of racing on short courses on the Hauraki Gulf. On Wednesday, there will be a 30-nautical mile passage race to Kawau Island where the fleet will anchor for the night for an owner's banquet at historic Mansion house.

On Thursday the fleet will race back to Auckland, with a prize-giving party that night. Racing for the America's Cup starts two days later on Saturday.

Dennis Conner, four-time winner of the America's Cup will take the helm of the Ed Dubois-designed 134-foot Destination Fox Harb'r, built by New Zealand's Alloy Yachts and launched in October last year in time for viewing the Louis Vuitton Cup and America's Cup racing. The performance-oriented yacht has a carbon mast and boom furling system.

San Francisco's Paul Cayard, 1992 challenger for the America's Cup in Italy's Il Moro di Venezia, will steer the record-breaking sloop Canon Leopard owned by Mike Slade. The 97-foot yacht, designed for racing and charter cruising, finished third in the recent Sydney-Hobart Race.

Francesco de Anglis, the Louis Vuitton Cup winner with Prada in 2000 who was unsuccessful in taking the America's Cup from the New Zealanders, will be the helmsman of the 105-foot Italian fast cruising sloop Ulisse.

Aboard the 1992 Louis Vuitton Cup finalist NZL-20, there will be a reunion day out with many of the old crew. Its America's Cup racing life over, the restored and refurbished, 75-footer was shipped from San Francisco to Auckland by its new owners for the Cup season. Bruce Farr, whose Farr Yacht Design team designed NZL-20 is also expected to be on board.

British skipper Ian Walker, who steered the GBR Challenge's Wight Lightning, will take the helm of the oldest yacht in the Millennium Cup, 100-foot marconi gaff cutter Moonbeam, designed and built in 1914 by William Fife. Britain's Peter Harrison, founder and chairman of the British challenge for the America's Cup, chartered the visiting yacht
for the Millennium Cup.

America's Cup sailors are spread throughout the fleet, including Prada's Gavin Brady, steering the 80-foot sloop Innovision and Prada's Brazilian tactician Torben Grael aboard the 112-foot aluminium performance sloop Ipanema. Kiwi sailors Kelvin Harrap and Matthew Mason, who sailed this time for OneWorld, and Robbie Naismith who sailed with Oracle, will join together in crewing the 111-foot high performance cruiser Silvertip.

Other Kiwi Cup sailors, including Richard Dodson and Kevin Shoebridge, will be aboard the 108-foot Imagine while veteran American Stars & Stripes afterguard Tom Whidden will sail with Kiwi owner Neville Crichton on the 90-foot Sydney Hobart race winner Alfa Romeo.

Lane Finley, event organizer and Executive Director of Marex, said "This is a magnificent opportunity for the visiting owners, their guests and their Kiwi hosts to race and socialize with the finest yachting talent in the world. It is the goal of the Millennium Cup to be a special event, complementing the unique attractions New Zealand has to offer overseas visitors."

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