After four days of racing, Prada tactician Torben Grael takes Div ision 1 aboard Ipanema and Gavin Brady steers the Swan 80 to victory in Division 2

Prada tactician Torben Grael steered the brand new Frers 112 cruiser Ipanema to a division one victory in the Millennium Cup superyacht regatta on the Hauraki Gulf off Auckland today, beating Neville Crichton’s much fancied water ballasted 90ft supermaxi Alfa Romeo into second place. Although Antonio Dias Leite’s Ipanema was around 20 minutes behind Alfa on the water she corrected out to a 4min 6sec victory in the final race which sealed her overall victory in the division. It was a victory which proved that the burgeoning population of performance superyachts which combine phenomenal comfort below with a seriously competitive turn of speed can now compete under the IRC rating system not only against each other but also against the new breed of super maxis like Alfa. The superbly turned out 107-footer Ulisse, another Frers design and steered by Francesco de Angelis , managed third place forcing Mike Slade’s 97ft Reichel Pugh designed Canon Leopard into 4th. Although the Millennium Cup is essentially about having a great time aboard some of the world’s finest sailing yachts, owners are keen to realise the potential of their multi-million dollar play things and the competitive edge was plain to see at the starts when hundreds of tons of superyacht travelling at anything up to 15 knots were thrown into tacks and gybes by the world’s top match racing helmsmen and tacticians. In today’s race from Kawau Island, some 30 miles north east of Auckland, there were some extremely close calls on the start line and reports of at least one collision. These enormous yachts were brought to the line at full tilt right on the gun and in today’s event, largely a drag race back to Auckland, trimming, sail choice and passing tactics played their part right to the end of the two hour race. Aboard Ipanema we were keen to stamp our authority on our ‘sistership’ Harry Macklowe’s Unfurled and on the long reaching legs we slowly pulled out a decisive lead. We spent a lot of time on the tail of Ulisse but in the end could find no way past the relatively lightweight Green Marine built sloop. It was perhaps compensation for what happened on the superb race north to Kawau the previous day when Ulisse lost a spinnaker a few hundred metres from the finish leaving Ipanema to sail though. In Division One German Frers and Reichel Pugh were the dominant designers in the first five places with Bill Tripp’s Alithia in 6th and the Briand designed Mari Cha 111 7th. Frers also designed the winner of Division 2 Hans Eekhol’s immaculately turned out Swan 80 Innovision. She walked away with three wins followed by the Laurie Davidson designed 65-footer Antaeus owned by Charles St Clair Brown. But in a way the star of the class was the deceptively fast Sariyah, designed by Sparkman & Stephens and built in aluminium by Sensation Yachts in New Zealand in 1994. Isam Kabbani’s 130ft ketch looked – well – cumbersome, but she was extremely well sailed, used her considerable sail area to great advantage and fairly thundered around the courses. Many of her crew and guests could be seen relaxing in cockpit armchairs as the yacht continued on her majestic way to her podium place. Her third ahead of the beautiful Southern Wind sloop Maya Ray somehow illustrated perfectly how this wide variety of yachts could, when sailed to their full potential, produce really exciting competition for owner and spectator alike. No story of the Millennium Cup would be complete without mention of the Grand Dinner served to 1200 guests on the lawns of the Mansion House on Kawau Island. This veritable banquet offered all that’s best in New Zealand’s cuisine. With a separate crew party which didn’t pull down the shutters until 0430 there’s little doubt that the crews arrived back in Auckland looking forward to a well earned rest – and the propect of watching another important regatta this weekend….

Results Division One 1, Ipanema. 2, Alfa Romeo. 3, Ulisse. 4, Canon Leopard. 5, Unfurled. 6, Alithia. 7, Mari Cha 111. 8, NZL 20. 9, Travelex. 10, Hetairos. 11, Silver Tip. 12, Kokomo. 13, Pink Gin. 14, Destination Fox Harbour. 15, Perseus. 16, Philanderer. 17, Phryne

Division Two 1, Innovision. 2, Anteus. 3, Sariyah. 4, Maya Ray. 5, Moonblue 2. 6, Tabasco. 7, Imagine. 8, Picasso. 9, Seatoy. 10, Freedom Flight. 11, Moonbeam. 12, Yanneke Too. 13, Charlatan. 14, Chimera. 15, Coconut. 16, Tree of Life. 17, Pacific Eagle. 18, Butterfly McQueen