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The America's Cup

Written by Cathy Siegismund
February 2003


Ken and I had about a week on the boat by ourselves. We cleaned up, did laundry and a few boat projects. After some great trekking around Queenstown, John flew back into Auckland. He had about a week before he flew back to Seattle. We decided to head out and do a couple days of sailing around the Hauraki Gulf. We headed out for 3 days. We got a late start, as we hadn't been out further than the fuel dock in about 15 months, and dropped the hook near Layla who had also gone out for a couple of days. We spent the night anchored off Rakino Channel. The next morning we had breakfast with Layla, and then headed over to Waiheke Island. Waiheke is a large island near Auckland and serviced by several ferries. It is home to some local wineries, lovely homes, swanky B&Bs, and many bays and beaches to explore. We dropped the book for a couple of nights in a well protected bay. Our second day on Waiheke we rented scooters and explored the island including lunch at one of the local wineries.

   

   

Riding scooters that came with enormously large helmets around Waiheke Island

After two days in Waiheke, we returned to Auckland. John wanted to work on getting his paragliding license, and we of course wanted to be back to meet our friends Jason and Tam who where coming over to Auckland from Australia for a visit.

We happed to return to Auckland on one of the days of the New Zealand Millennium Cup, a superyacht regatta held on the Hauraki Gulf between the end of the Louis Vuitton Cup and the beginning of the America's Cup. The mega yachts have been congregating in Auckland over the last year. We had seen them tied up in the viaduct harbour, but it was really something to see these enormous yachts out on the water.

   

   

   

Superyachts in the 2003 New Zealand Millennium Cup

Back in Auckland, the city was gearing up for the America's Cup. Not only were we looking forward to watching Team New Zealand and Alinghi compete for the Cup, but we also were looking forward to seeing some cruising friends we hadn't seen in a while. Jason and Tam from Rainsong were in Auckland for a week and Ed and Rachel from Horai were going to be in town for a few days as well.

February 15th was the first day of the America's Cup. After spending so much time on the water during the Louis Vuitton Cup, we decided we'd watch from Auckland's Viaduct Harbour. The bar/restaurant of choice was the Loaded Hog. The Hog provides a view of the viaduct where the boats can be seen leaving and returning to their bases. The hog also of course has food, beverages, big screen TVs and an electric atmosphere.

Jason, John, Ken, and Tam saving a table at the Loaded Hog

Drew and Vernita

February 15 was the start of the America's Cup, but it was also John's last day in Auckland. The first race of the America's Cup started out looking like it was going to be great. The day was perfect and the boats appeared to be fairly evenly matched. However, soon everything turned to custard as they say down here. Though the wind was not that strong there were some choppy seas, and a lot of water was coming aboard the Team New Zealand boat. Soon they had a crew member bailing with a large blue bucket - which we later found out was the crew's toilet! Apparently, the extra weight from all the water onboard then caused the failure of the boom - then end of the carbon fiber boom shattered. The Kiwi's were still putting up a fight, and jerry-rigged the end of the boom. A few minutes later, the Kiwi's were forced out of the race when their head sail blew out, they raised another and the same thing happened. That was it; the race was over for Team New Zealand on the fist leg. We felt very sorry for them. The people in Viaduct still gave a huge show of support when the broken boat was towed back to base.

John at the Hog

We sadly said goodbye to John - our most frequent visitor to date, a 3-peat - who flew back to Seattle that evening.

The following day, we thought we'd give the Loaded Hog a another try for the second race of the America's Cup. We all grabbed a table in front of the big screen. The weather was perfect and we were all rewarded with an awesome race between Team New Zealand and Alinghi; this was probably the best race of the series. Both Alinghi and New Zealand took turns in the lead, with Alinghi squeaking by with a 7 second win.

Ed & Rachel from Horai, currently in Australia, visiting Auckland for the America's Cup

The electric atmosphere at the Loaded Hog during race 2 of the America's Cup

Race 3 of the America's cup was won by Alinghi who was completely controlled the entire race. Alinghi had been just about flawless in their sailing, and tactics through the Louis Vuitton Cup and it appeared that this would continue in the America's Cup. The fickle weather in the Hauraki Gulf then began to reap havoc with the Cup racing schedule. One day the race would be cancelled due to no wind, and the next cancelled because of too much. The next two races would not be held until we were again on the South Island, where we watched them on TV.

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