The world's best sailors will come together in the Bay of Islands this week for the New Zealand Millennium Cup superyacht regatta.
Spanning from January 30 to February 2 with 50 vessels expected, the event will feature a series of courses which display the cruising ground to its best advantage, while giving some of New Zealand's best sailors a chance to show off on their home turf against tough international opposition.
The 11th edition of the regatta comes on the heels of Bay of Islands sailing week and with the 36th America's Cup approaching, will likely create more interest in the regatta and in New Zealand's wider cruising grounds.
"Short courses with three start options, along with one long course, will provide variety as the regatta progresses, and gives race management flexibility to work with New Zealand's changeable conditions to create fierce, fun racing," race officer Harold Bennett said.
Former ISAF Sailor of the Year award winner Mike Sanderson said the races would take on a new professional element under the Offshore Racing ORC Superyacht Rule, which processed a vessel's data to produce a rating.
"It's always been such a pleasure to be a part of this world-class regatta and now it will be recognised under a world-class rating system."
Cup organiser Stacey Cook said she was pleased to welcome back long-time regatta competitors, Sassafras, Tawera and Silvertip.
"They're very evenly matched so we're looking forward to an epic showdown."
The event also had protecting the environment as a priority, being dubbed a 'Clean Regatta', which would mean no single use plastic, minimised paper waste and stringent recycling.
"Our beautiful environment and natural heritage play a huge part in what makes the cup so special and it was a no-brainer to make sure we're doing everything we can to protect this spectacular part of the world," Cook said.
Racing will get under way on Thursday at 11am.