Despite being out of the running the French are offering their services as a trial horse

Wednesday, 19 January

Just when the Pit Lane was quietening down, the rattle of chainsaws has disrupted the peace. Rather than packing their bags and heading for home, the French are now busy ripping into their yacht Sixieme Sens, replacing the bow with a new v-shaped design. Once back in the water, they will offer their services to help tune-up the two surviving challengers, or more controversially, the New Zealanders.

Team Dennis Conner is also busily refitting Stars and Stripes with, according to DC, a more aesthetically pleasing sugar scoop. This refinement is not designed for Auckland waters, but for a possible charter role at the Sydney Olympics.

Work is also underway around the village marina, as the superyachts prepare for their three days in the racing spotlight. The Millennium Cup (15-17 February) is set to be the biggest superyacht regatta ever staged, with over 40 yachts already registered. Both Velsheda and the ever faithful Bystander plan to race, along with 100 ft plus yachts: Hyperion, Sapphire, Andromeda, Sea Quell and motoryachts: Affinity, Spada and Itasca.

Georgia, the world’s largest sloop, will also be on the start line, despite having to undergo hull and rudder repairs. Her ghostly shape is currently towering over the syndicate bases, shrouded in white plastic with her 200ft mast protruding like a radio mast. In repairing the hull, boat builders were unable to find an exact paint match, resulting in a total burgundy re-spray for the two-month old yacht.