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Tawera and Whirlwind claim victories on Day 1 of Mastercard Superyacht Regatta

by Andrew Delves – RNZYS PR & Communications Manager 24 Feb 00:00 PST 24 February 2021
Whirlwind competing on Day 1 of the Mastercard Super Yacht Regatta - Royal NZ Yacht Squadron © Jeff Brown, Breed Media

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's Mastercard Superyacht Regatta got under way today in Auckland with two spectacular races on the pristine waters of the Hauraki Gulf.

There are seven mouthwatering superyachts taking part this week, and the City of Sails turned on perfect sailing weather for the opening day of the regatta, sponsored by Auckland Unlimited, with sunshine and a solid 16-18 knot breeze on the course.

RNZYS Commodore Aaron Young was out on the water watching the action unfold today -

"What an amazing spectacle we saw today on the Hauraki Gulf. All the skippers out there had a great time, a beautiful north easterly breeze of 15-20 knots, it was a little bit lumpy for the spectators, but I know all the crews had a great day and we can't wait for tomorrow." - RNZYS Commodore Aaron Young.

The first race got under way at 11am and the course was a large 15.8 nautical mile windward / leeward track between Rangitoto Island and Gulf Harbour Peninsula. All of the yachts competing are of different sizes and design, which means the starts are staggered based on ORC ratings. The 'smallest' boat in the fleet, 28 metre Tawera, was the first to get under way, followed by Aschanti IV, Whirlwind, Miss Silver, Catalina, Sassafras and lastly the sleek and speedy Silvertip, all departing three minutes apart from each other as is the format for this regatta.

Although they were the final boat off the start-line, Silvertip quickly looked to be in race mode, with all crew having their legs over the side and the boat making up solid ground on the rest of the fleet to be the first around mark one. Hot on her heels was Miss Silver, who was only 70 metres behind at the first mark. The rest of the fleet began to fall in line as they were all kites up on the stretch to the second mark. One of the highlights included a near flawless gybe around mark two by the experienced crew on Sassafras, something they will no doubt watch back tonight.

As the fleet headed to the finish, it almost looked like a still image with all of them perfectly in line, a stunning sight that we will never tire of seeing over the three remaining days of the regatta.

Silvertip - built here in New Zealand by Yachting Developments - proved they are a force to reckon with by crossing the finish line first, but it was the New Zealand based Tawera that claimed the spoils in race one - winning the race on handicap by a one minute and 43 second margin on corrected time, a brilliant start to the regatta for the team. Miss Silver claimed second overall, followed by Sassafras, Whirlwind, Silvertip, Aschanti IV and Catalina.

With two races on the cards today, the crews quickly had to regroup and get ready for round two which began at 1pm. Silvertip again went to the tip of the fleet before the first mark, and this time they had a very large lead, putting more than a kilometre between them and Miss Silver. However, the rest of the fleet were having a great battle, with lots of close racing meaning it was anyone's guess how the results would pan out come the finish.

The final leg was the longest of the day, with a long downwind run from the second mark positioned off Long Bay all the way to the finish line set off North Head. Sassafras, Whirlwind and Tawera continued their ongoing close battle, with only six hundred metres separating them as they sailed past the sandy beaches of Auckland's North Shore with their kites in full flight.

Silvertip again got the gun with a dominant line victory, followed by another New Zealand build beauty - Miss Silver - in second. Sassafras and Whirlwind were still neck and neck down the coast, but although Sassafras managed to cross the line ahead, Whirlwind did enough, sailing a superb race to take the overall race victory. Race one winner Tawera added to their hot start to the regatta, claiming second place, with Miss Silver finishing in third.

After two races on the first day, it is of course Mike Mahoney's Tawera who takes home the spoils and the overall regatta lead. Speaking back at the Mastercard Dinghy Locker Bar, Mahoney was in good spirits -

"It was just good to get these big boats out there and get them under a bit of load and full pressure conditions. We had a lot of guests on board, and we had to get them to form a team in thirty minutes which is never easy, but it's all good fun and that's why we're here. It's just great to see the boats looking so good! We did well in that first race and managed to get around all the corners without any mishaps. The second wasn't quite so sharp but they don't take any prisoners these boats and if you make a mistake you get punished."

Right behind Tawera on the leaderboard after day one's racing, we have Whirlwind, followed by Miss Silver, Sassafras, Silvertip, Catalina and Ashcanti IV.

The forty-four metre Catalina, skippered by Sean Whitney, may have finished last in the first race, but there was a good reason for that, as Whitney explains -

"It was really good conditions out there, we had upwards of twenty knots at times at the top mark. Great upwind legs, we had an unfortunate blowout on one of our sheets in the start of the first race so we were a bit hindered with our genoa set-up and we could only fly it on port tack, and we had to just settle with the staysail on the starboard tack for both races today, but we made good ground in the second race so that was great. Tomorrow will be nice, the winds will be a little bit less, which is probably not so good for us, but I feel we will have a nice easy day, we will be able to enjoy and see a bit of scenery around the Hauraki Gulf."

Race Day two - sponsored by Boat International - will get under way tomorrow at 11am, with one longer race scheduled, and after today's cracking start to the regatta, we are sure we are in for another treat.

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