Yas on Sea Trials: VIDEO

Three years after her launch at ADMShipyards in Abu Dhabi, Yas was spotted heading out on sea trials. This video, shot last month, gives yacht-watchers worldwide hope that Yas may finally be delivered after more than seven years in development.

If you’re not familiar with the full back story, Yas is an intriguing project. In 1998, the United Arab Emirates Navy acquired a 426-foot (130-meter) Royal Dutch Navy frigate. The UAE Navy later decided to use a new corvette instead. However, since the frigate was still a sound vessel, the navy sold her, to a private individual in late 2007. He intended to build a fast megayacht.

That same year, the conversion began at ADMShipyards (then-known as Abu Dhabi Mar). Yas bore the project name Swift141. The numerals referred to her LOA in meters, which equates 462’6”. As for “Swift,” it referred to the frigate hull. ADMShipyards finally revealed in 2011, when Yas launched, that she’d reach a maximum 26 knots and cruise at 20 knots.

Pierrejean Design Studio imparted a good deal of curving yacht styling yet preserved the svelte frigate hull lines for Yas. More than anything, though, the tremendous amount of glass planned for the superstructure got the most attention—as it continues to do. Related to this, the superstructure of Yas is the largest-ever yacht structure comprised of composite. It was subcontracted to VectorWorks Marine, Compmillennia, and J. Frank Crane, all American companies. (ADMShipyards didn’t have craftsmen skilled in the material at the time.)

This video provides plenty of footage of the superstructure and profile. There are even a handful of glimpses at the aft-deck pool, upper-deck helipad, and a custom tender stowed to starboard alongside the superstructure. What you won’t see, unfortunately, is the interior. The only inside space aboard Yas shown is the wheelhouse. Regardless, ADMShipyards did reveal early on that Yas will accommodate a party of 60.

New Zealand Millennium Cup 2015: Race Day 3

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PHOTO: Jeff Brown

It’s official: Silencio and Steinlager II (above) are the winners of their divisions in the New Zealand Millennium Cup.

It seemed all but inevitable that Silencio would take the Millennium Cup division (yachts exceeding 98 feet/30 meters). After all, she won both race day 1 and race day 2. However, her four challengers weren’t about to cede all bragging rights. Janice of Wyoming, Bliss, and Silvertip were tied for second place, with Sassafras poised to play spoiler for third place for one of them. This being the latter’s first regatta, a place on the podium would be extra sweet.

Meanwhile, in the Pacific Cup division, Steinlager II and Antaeus each had won a race. So, “winner takes all” was the case for today’s race.

PHOTO: Jeff Brown

PHOTO: Jeff Brown

As had been the case for much of the New Zealand Millennium Cup, sunny skies and good winds (about 18 knots) greeted the fleet. Today’s course was the longest, 30 nautical miles. Plenty of jockeying for the lead characterized the run toward the first mark. The action really heated up from there. Silencio was leading by mark two, overtaken by Sassafras by mark three. Within a few more marks, both Bliss and Janice of Wyoming passed Silencio, with Bliss soon enough making a big push to gain second place. Sassafras stayed in first, Bliss in second, and Silencio in third straight to the finish line, despite Bliss’ crew making one heckuva close on the gap between her and Sassafras. Thirty-one seconds separated Sassafras’ first-place finish and Bliss’ second-place position. Just as Bliss arrived back at the docks to the sounds of the rock anthem “Highway to Hell” on day one, she let her sound system loose after today’s race. Meanwhile, Janice of Wyoming claimed third, with Silvertip and Silencio rounding out the division finishers. Even with Janice of Wyoming beating out Silvertip, Silvertip still gave her a run for the money. Silencio unfortunately suffered from spinnaker troubles earlier on in the race and couldn’t regain her lead.

Since just two competitors were in the Pacific Cup division, Steinlager II secured final victory by crossing the finish line following Silvertip, being fifth overall to finish.

Because the New Zealand Millennium Cup coincided with the Bay of Islands Sailing Week, the prize-giving ceremonies were merged. The official MC told the crowd that the Cup augmented the Sailing Week action. The crowd also got a bath of champagne thanks to the owner and crew of Silencio when they lifted the Millennium Cup trophy. Further awards went to the owners of Silvertip and Janice of Wyoming. Each has raced their yacht in New Zealand and supported the country’s yachting industry for a number of years.

No doubt, then, they’ll be back for the next Cup, in a few years’ time.

New Zealand Millennium Cup 2015: Race Day 2

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PHOTO: Jeff Brown

Silencio sailed to victory once again in the Millennium Cup division of the New Zealand Millennium Cup today. That marks two days in a row that she’s beaten out four competitors. In the Pacific Cup division, Steinlager II crossed the finish line first. Now she and her sole category competitor, Antaeus, each have a victory.

Day two was Ocean Media Day, sponsored by Australia-based Ocean magazine. Hillary Buckman, editor of Ocean, was aboard Silencio for the race. “Brilliant sailing today, lots of wind,” she commented after the start. Indeed, the forecast was for winds to reach 20 knots as the day advanced. And, an hour and a half after the staggered start, the prediction started coming true.

PHOTO: Jeff Brown

PHOTO: Jeff Brown

Given the 26-nautical-mile course for today’s race, there was good opportunity for the competitors to challenge one another. Bliss and Silvertip, each in the Millennium Cup division, closely jockeyed for position for most of the race. In fact, they finished a mere 27 seconds apart, with Bliss edging Silvertip out. There was also a good half-hour stretch where all of the New Zealand Millennium Cup yachts battled amid boats participating in the Bay of Islands Sailing Week (above), making for quite the sight.

Ultimately, since Silencio had established quite a lead straight from the start, she crossed the finish line first. “It was an intense day of racing on board Silencio,” Hillary Buckman tells us. “With a superstar lineup of crew consisting of John Cutler as skipper, Dawn Riley as tactician, Susie Leach as navigator – all America’s Cup legends – and Nicky Souter as trimmer, there was no doubt that the owner likes to win!” Three minutes after that Perini Navi finished, Janice of Wyoming, an Alloy Yachts build, took second place. Prior to her reaching the line, though, both Steinlager II and Antaeus completed the Pacific Cup division competition.

Incidentally, Steinlager II (below)s quite a notable maxi ketch. Nicknamed “Big Red” for her red hull and spinnaker, she’s the only yacht to have won all six legs of the Whitbread Round the World Race. LOA is 83’7” (25.5 meters). She’s a Bruce Farr design built in 1989.

PHOTO: Jeff Brown

PHOTO: Jeff Brown

The above-mentioned mixing and mingling with the Bay of Islands Sailing Week crews didn’t end during the day. All were invited to attend the evening’s social events.

The final New Zealand Millennium Cup race is tomorrow. Take a look at the scoreboard below so far: strong chances for even more close racing to wrap things up.

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New Zealand Millennium Cup: Race Day 1

New-Zealand-Millennium-Cup-3ALL PHOTOS: Jeff Brown

Silencio has taken the first race in the New Zealand Millennium Cup, which kicked off earlier today. The 164-foot (50-meter) sailing yacht, built by Perini Navi in 2001, was also first off the mark.

Given that this is Silencio’s first time competing in the New Zealand Millennium Cup, her crew is extra-motivated to make an impression. Witness the fact that they performed a haka, a traditional Maiori dance (above), before the warning pistol was even fired. (The haka is often characterized as a war dance, but it’s also a display of a tribe’s pride and unity. It’s further often used on the sports field to put opponents on notice.)

Silencio wasn’t the only sailing superyacht displaying pride on the New Zealand Millennium Cup “battlefield.” As each competitor unfurled her gennaker, race-watchers delighted in seeing the colors: Bliss (bold orange), Steinlager II (bold red), and Janice of Wyoming (a bucking bronco), to name a few.

Fair breezes for the beginning of the race made for good action. Around the first mark, near Motuterakihi Island, Silvertip and Bliss each passed Janice of Wyoming and Sassafras in their division. Silvertip then pulled into the lead prior to reaching Ninepin Island, the second mark. (The New Zealand Millennium Cup is using a combination of buoys, rocks, and islands as the marks. It also follows pursuit racing rules, which allows sailing yachts of different classes to compete against each other. Handicaps are provided by the International Superyacht Rule. Ultimately, this permits the competition to come down to crew skill, not equipment superiority.) Meanwhile, Silencio continued to lead Antaeus and Steinlager II in their division, even through to rounding the third mark.

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Winds dropped a bit through the race, so the New Zealand Millennium Cup race organizers eliminated the last mark. Interesting enough, Antaeus pulled ahead of Silencio at this point, despite having started 13 minutes after her. Silencio was not to be outdone, crossing the finish line first and claiming victory in the Millennium Cup division. Antaeus was declared the Pacific division winner on race day one. Third place overall and second in the Pacific division went to Steinlager II. Silvertip was next, taking second in the Millennium Cup division, a victim of the shortened course. The original final mark may have given her the distance she needed to pull ahead.

Not to be outdone: Bliss, crossing the line to the rock anthem “Highway to Hell.”

The New Zealand Millennium Cup thus far has been anything but hellish for all of the attendees, especially Ed Dubois of Dubois Naval Architects. Race day one was dubbed Ed Dubois Day, since he’s designed 37 yachts built in the last three decades in New Zealand. “Ladies and gentlemen, I love New Zealand,” he told the crowd. “It is an honor to have a race named for me, but really it is me who should be thanking the New Zealand marine industry for building such spectacular yachts.” Among the ones he mentioned are three competing in the New Zealand Millennium Cup. They are Bliss, Silvertip, and Janice of Wyoming. All three have competed in previous Cups in the country, too.

We’ll have day two coverage of the New Zealand Millennium Cup tomorrow. Racing is taking place once again in the Bay of Islands, 120 nautical miles north of Auckland. Will Silencio be first off the mark again? Or will one of the long-time Cup competitors cross the finish in spectacular fashion? Stay tuned.

EXTRA PHOTOS: Visit our Facebook page to see spectacular racing shots from today’s New Zealand Millennium Cup race.

New Zealand Millennium Cup 2015: Race Day Coverage

New-Zealand-Millennium-Cup-2015With the captain’s briefing all wrapped up, all that’s left to do for the New Zealand Millennium Cup 2015 is to fire the starting pistol. The sailing superyachts Antaeus, Bliss, Janice of Wyoming, Sassafras, Silencio (pictured below), Silvertip, and Steinlager II are each looking to claim victory after the three days of racing, which start tomorrow.

Since the first Millennium Cup race in 2000, the focus of the event has been promoting New Zealand as a cruising destination. It’s timed to attract yachts enjoying the region’s summer season. Simultaneously, it has promoted New Zealand-based megayacht builders, designers, refit yards, and other yachting companies. The themes have carried through the handful of days of competitive sailing and camaraderie.

Among the New Zealand Millennium Cup 2015 competitors, both Janice of Wyoming and Silvertip competed in the last race, in 2013. Previous experience is no guarantee for success, however. This year’s race is being held in a different location, the Bay of Islands. There will be an estimated 90 other yachts of all sizes watching, too. That’s because the New Zealand Millennium Cup 2015 coincides with Bay of Islands Sailing Week, a prestigious regatta now in its 13th year.

The New Zealand Millennium Cup 2015 handicapping will be via the International Superyacht Rule. The forecast for the week promises clear skies and building breezes, ideal conditions. Also ideal: social events following each race, designed to educate and entertain owners and crew. (Yes, some sailing superyacht owners are aboard their boats, even taking the helm.) There’ll be a wine tasting, for example, sponsored by a local vineyard.

PHOTO: Tim Wright

PHOTO: Tim Wright

Even though the skipper’s briefing today doesn’t sound terribly exciting, there was a truly memorable experience for all in attendance. Captains, crew, owners, media, and industry representatives received a traditional Maori blessing.

We’ll have daily photo gallery coverage of the racing action, starting tomorrow. It’s interesting to note that tomorrow has also been dubbed Dubois Race Day. It’s in honor of famed designer Ed Dubois, for the numerous New Zealand-built yachts he’s designed and his overall support of the New Zealand yachting industry. Three Dubois-designed yachts are competing in the Millennium Cup 2015: Bliss, Janice of Wyoming, and Silvertip.