Seas the day

Written by: Rebecca Hayter

They’re engineering feats in their own right and impossible to miss, so pack a picnic and find the best spot to have your head turned, writes Rebecca Hayter.

AH, THE SUPERYACHTS… where Hollywood royalty, owners of multi-national companies and even tiara-wearing royalty gather for their luxury holidays. Even superyachts are drawn to the Hauraki Gulf – and one reason why is the New Zealand Millennium Cup. 

The New Zealand Millennium Cup was first superyachts a good racing regatta, entertain their wealthy owners and guests, and showcase New Zealand food and wine, its cruising grounds and refit facilities for superyachts. 

Officially, a superyacht is at least 100ft, 30m, but for friendly regattas the rules are relaxed to include boats from 80ft. Some of the motoryachts have three tiers of decks; the big sailing yachts have masts with warning lights for aircraft.

At night, at their berths in the Viaduct Harbour, their masts are lit like sky scrapers; their underwater lights create coloured halos.

Below decks superyachts may feature private art collections, three or four staterooms with marble en suites, a bridge (helmstation) that outclasses a 747, a chef, deck hands, engineer and captain. Their crew often includes Kiwis.

Consider going out on a charter boat to watch the superyachts racing in The New Zealand Millennium Cup. They may include the New Zealand-built, 40m Janice of Wyoming, displacing around 198 tonnes of Hauraki Gulf water and carrying gennakers the size of four tennis courts, surging down to the turning mark. The 30 crew are like toy people, expertly handling the giant sails. Remember to listen. Superyachts make grunty, thrilling noises of winches under load.

Alternatively, take your picnic and binoculars to North Head and watch from there. Or be a superyacht groupie for a few hours to welcome them back into the Viaduct Harbour.

Tempted to work on a superyacht? There are companies, such as 37 South, in Auckland that recruit superyacht crew.

The New Zealand Millennium Cup 23-26 February 2024.

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