Who wants to sail in one of the toughest, most challenging races in New Zealand – around the North Island two handed?

(For those non-sailing people out there this actually means two people – so technically four hands…don’t ask me why as I am not sure either…)

Well it seems like lots of people! The Round North Island aka – #RNI2020 race has only 30 entries available (due to the visitor berth availability in the ports of call) and these spots incredibly all sold out within 45 minutes of going on sale last night!

And Team VM2 Racing on board High Voltage – is one of those 30! We were poised, wine in hand from 6pm waiting for the entries to come online at 7pm just to make sure we got in.

Sir Peter Blake came up with the idea to race around the North Island back in 1977 and since then it has been run nearly every three years. The Short Handed Sailing Association of NZ – SSANZ now runs the race, along with the recently finished Round New Zealand race and a whole lot of other events too.

The Course

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Starting in Auckland on the 22nd February 2020 the first leg is a quick 154 nautical miles North to Mangonui.

When 60% of the boats arrive in port, the timer starts counting down – with just 24 hours until the next start, the aim is to be in the front of the pack to give yourself as much time up your sleeve for some much needed rest, and some TLC for the boat.

The next leg is 550 miles from Mangonui around North Cape and down the West Coast to Wellington, dodging oil rigs, ferries and the Karori Rip along the way.

Then leg three is Wellington to Napier – 200 miles back up the coast.

And finally Napier back to Auckland 367 miles – and time for a well deserved beer!

There is a great tracker system on all the boats so everyone can follow the action if not in person, then from the comfort of their smartphone or office (while pretending to work!).

The Boats

Victoria’s yacht High Voltage is an Elliott 1050. The smallest entry is an Elliott 7.9 and the largest is a 50′ Young.

Vic has made lots of modifications to High Voltage to make her easier to sail short handed. This has included a new smaller mainsail, a better reefing system – meaning that reefing can be done from the cockpit with no one having to go forward to the mast, a top-down furling code zero, new more user friendly mainsheet system, AIS, satellite phone, and much more.

All boats are checked to ensure the design is suitable for the race and able to withstand the potentially punishing conditions they may experience along the way.

They must be up to Cat 2 safety standards under the Yachting NZ regulations. This covers off all sorts of things like all the safety equipment on board, boat stability ratings, construction and much more.


The Crew

I was really looking forward to sailing in this race after Vic twisted my arm to be her co-skipper/crew when she bought High Voltage last year. However after a very sad accident where my ex-husband was killed in an accident a month ago. I am now needing to focus all my energy on getting our son and I through this very tough grieving process, and I’ve decided I won’t be able to commit to all the training, boat delivery and race.

But despite my self imposed demotion, I’ve now been appointed as “Director of Racing VM2 Racing”… so at least I’ve got a fancy title and that means I get to do other stuff like processing entry forms, sorting out safety plans, doing passage plans, managing social media, writing blog posts and chasing around the country following the race. I’ve also got backup from our friends Naomi and Craig who are also offering their shore-side support.

Thankfully my lovely friend Emily Riley has stepped in to my boots to do the sailing part! Emily crewed with me on Wildy, has sailed around NZ solo, we’ve had some great adventures together sailing in New Caledonia and in the Whitsundays, and she has also just done the Sydney Hobart race, and much more. So she is very experienced and a great fit in the VM2 race team! Emily and Victoria recently completed the 80 mile Tarakohe race two handed and got 2nd place – after leading for a large chunk of the race.

And of course – Skipper – Victoria Murdoch. Vic and I have sailed together for over 20 years after meeting on board Natural Magic many years ago. High Voltage is her boat and it was her dream to complete this race and we are going to do all we can to make sure we are the best prepared boat and team on the start line!

Vic & Emily just sailed High Voltage 250 miles out the top of Queen Charlotte Sound and down to Lyttelton two handed as their qualifying passage for the race too. Here they are enjoying a celebratory glass of bubbles when they arrived hot, thirsty and tired last weekend!fullsizeoutput_258c

The Training

Our great friend Dee Owers has put together a fitness and strength training programme. She can help anyone anywhere set up a programme using simple equipment at home and tailored to suit your requirements. You can get in touch with her here. She will even put tips on Facebook showing you how to do the exercises!

Matt Stechmann is the on-water coach. He made Vic & I come up with a list of all our sailing strengths and weaknesses, any concerns and what we were looking forward to, and then has focused on a plan to get us more comfortable with doing the things we don’t enjoy. He is a great sailor and also a rigger.

Vic and I have just done a Marine Medic course where we learned all sorts of things like how to staple up wounds and how to administer injections… ouch.

We are now working on coordinating an Advanced Sea Survival course sometime over the winter.

Both crew need to have a medical certificate to say they are fit and capable of doing the race.


I am in charge of safety and am working on a great safety plan, which I hope to share on the blog later on down the track – watch this space. I hope to do some blog posts on our drills etc too.

Vic has put together a schedule of dates for getting her and Emily (and hopefully occasionally me too!) out on the water to get plenty of sea-time and experience on the boat. We’ve also got to deliver the boat from here up to Auckland – and back again, so technically we will almost be going around the North Island twice!

The Homework

We have had heaps of help and support from people who have already done the race.

Geoff Herd and his partner Deborah who are on the SSANZ committee, have been able to offer heaps of advice. Geoff is also going to be racing on his boat The Guarantee.

We had brunch in Auckland the other day with Sally Garrett who had just completed the RNZ race on Coppelia. She had heaps of great advice from what to eat, what to wear, where to sleep, things to focus on and much more.

Ken from Gale Force Racing spent ages with us showing us all around their Elliott 1050 which was much appreciated. It was great to see how well they had set up the boat.

And the boys from Motorboat let us have a look around their incredible vessel too.

The Competition

We are excited to be lining up with some pretty cool competitors too including:



The Guarantee

Gale Force


Satellite Spy




And quite a few others who we are really looking forward to meeting along the way. You can check out the full list of entries on the SSANZ Website.

Of course I will keep you posted with our progress towards the start line right here on the blog – you can click to subscribe over there on the right hand side and make sure you don’t miss out on any updates and of course you can follow us on Facebook and Instagram too.

Hopefully the Southernmost entry, only all girl crew, with the sexiest boat will be able to do you all proud. Stay tuned to find out!

Cheers Viki, Victoria & Emily

Team VM2 Racing on High Voltage











5 thoughts on “RNI2020

  1. Pingback: RNI 2020 – Race Preparation | Astrolabe Sailing

  2. Pingback: Reflections of the RNI2020 | Astrolabe Sailing

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