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NZ Millennium Cup begins, with an innovative ratings system

by Isla McKechnie/ Albatross PR 29 Mar 2021 02:57 NZDT 29 March 2021
NZ built superyacht Silvertip racing in the NZ Millennium Cup © Jeff Brown

The NZ Millennium Cup is under way, with an innovative handicapping system new to superyacht regattas.

New Zealand's summer of racing continues, as the NZ Millennium Cup gets under way with a welcome function at the Duke of Marlborough, sponsored by Southern Spars

The Sunday evening function marks the start of the South Pacific's longest-running superyacht regatta and also heralds a new era in superyacht ratings systems.

This year's regatta promises to be particularly exciting with the introduction of a different handicap scoring method developed for superyacht racing by the Offshore Racing Congress (ORC). This is the first time it will be used in a superyacht regatta, though it's used by ORC for non-superyacht regattas, and uses an average wind speed experienced on the race course and computed on the elapsed time around the course of the winning boat in corrected time. 

The new system; Performance Curve Scoring was adopted by the race's handicappers (ORC) and competitors specifically for the NZ Millennium Cup regatta, with representatives of each yacht expressing excitement about the new method to be used in the coming week. 

At a pre-race briefing, principal race officer, Harold Bennett, expanded to competitors on the plans for the race. Citing the drive to ensure exciting racing, Bennett explained morning races would be windward/leeward around the Ninepin as the top mark, while afternoon races would be longer, using a combination of the many islands of the Bay of Islands, plus occasional buoys, to ensure yachts are tested with on the wind, reaching and downwind legs.

With racing formalities out of the way, owners, crew and guests settled in to enjoy the hospitality of the Duke of Marlborough, including Mount Gay Cocktails which were a nod to Russell's colonial-era reputation as one of the wildest ports in the Pacific. With Mount Gay's Missionary's Downfall in hand, guests were regaled by Bruno Trouble, as they prepared for racing in one of the world's great natural playgrounds to begin on Monday morning.

The regatta, which runs from 28-31 March, is one of the must-do regattas on the world superyacht circuit and has garnered a reputation as a fun, hospitable, but fiercely competitive regatta. The Cup marks the final stanza in an exhilarating season of racing in New Zealand.

The regatta was first held alongside the 2000 America's Cup and is now in its 15th year. It's the longest running superyacht regatta in the South Pacific and has built a reputation for its camaraderie and fierce competition.

The regatta will be available to watch live at

Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions have amendments issued, and can be found at

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