RNI 2020 – We need your help!

As you may recall from my last post, we have entered in the Two Handed Round North Island Yacht Race in 2020, a race held once every three years.  

This race commenced in 1977, being put together by Sir Peter Blake.  It is not for the faint hearted and is an epic challenge/adventure race for competitors being a real test of mental stamina, and endurance.  There are 40 boats entered in the RNI2020 race.

We are on the look out for potential sponsorship partners who’d like to come on board to help promote their brand and assist with getting us to the finish line.

The Race

Eligibility to enter is limited.  The yacht must be over 7.9m in length, and skippered and crewed by persons over 18 years of age who have qualified by completing no less than 250nm non-stop on open water, together on the entered boat.   In addition, they must be considered experienced enough to look after themselves in the event of an emergency or inclement weather.

Out of the 40 boats entered in the 2020 race, we are the only all-female crew and also the most southerly based team.

The race comprises 4 legs and circles the North Island in an anticlockwise direction, a distance of approximately 1244 nautical miles in total.

What can we expect?
 This is dangerous.
 Winds / seas – not always to our advantage
 Sleep deprivation – with all the technology in the world the boat wont sail itself
 Sea sickness – hopefully only for short periods, and we can manage well
 Breakages – they do happen even on the best prepared boat
 Injuries – we hope not!  But we have both completed advanced first aid courses
 Maritime rules – we are duty bound to respondto someone else in distress
What will we achieve?
 Put Canterbury sailing on the map  Southernmost crew, and yes there is yachting outside Auckland
 Put GIRLS on the map – Girls only provide 20% of the participants in sailing, and less than 10% in the Round North Island race
 And have achieved our personal goal – and that is really motivating!
Who Are We?
We are not professional sailors.  We are not professional sports people, but traditional Kiwis with a passion for being out on the sea. We see ourselves as ordinary women taking on an extraordinary challenge

Victoria Murdoch

Victoria has been sailing since she was in her mid-twenties, as her main recreational past time.  She has sailed a variety of boats but primarily raced keel boats.  She has competed in two women’s keelboat nationals and has travelled the country competing in various regattas and offshore races, from the well known Coastal Classic (Auckland to Russell), Wellington to Nelson, Wellington to Akaroa, Lyttelton to Akaroa, and various regattas through central NZ.  

Outside sailing Victoria has a passion for anything aquatic, being an active fisherman, diver and swimmer.  She is also on the Naval Point Marine Rescue Centre Trust, which is a trust formed to provide safe boating facilities in the harbour basin formed through a joint venture of Naval Point Club and Canterbury Coastguard after both organisations lost their buildings during the Christchurch earthquake events.
She is a Registered Valuer with TelferYoung and director in the Christchurch office. She also sits on the Valuers Registration Board.
Victoria lost her father at an early age and. Although this doesn’t define her, after watching her mother successfully raise young children independently has become fiercely independent herself. Vic has spent the majority of her career working in a male dominated environment, she absolutely believes girls can do anything and should support each other. Victoria really likes success and lives by the mantra work hard, sail harder!
Emily Riley
Emily has a huge passion for sailing and the ocean. From a young age she has spent time messing around in boats, and in the last 10 years this focus has been sailing in keel boats. Emily has completed a solo circumnavigation of New Zealand and her first Sydney Hobart yacht race last year, in addition to other regattas and races in central NZ. 
Outside of sailing, Emily’s background is as a mechanical engineer with a specialism in renewable energy, although in recent years she has been occupied in the post earthquake Christchurch rebuild. With the rebuild completing she is looking to channel her skills and passion to make a difference in the marine environment. Emily is also on the Board of the Naval Point Club Lyttelton, which is the largest water-sports club in the South Island.
Emily grew up with two brothers and saw no reason why she couldn’t out wit and outsprint them in sport and at school. Emily loves speed and believes if there is more than one boat involved then it’s a race! Emily is passionate about the environment and sustainability and sailing has taught her that when things get tough is when you learn the most.  Solo sailing has taught Emily that winning isn’t always about speed and that the biggest challenge is beating yourself.
Both Vic and Emily say their role models are Tracy Edwards (SV Maiden), Dame Ellen MacArthur, Dame Naomi James and Sir Peter Blake. Vic and Emily have  realised that for many younger sailors in Canterbury they are role models too.
Shore Crew
We couldn’t do this on our own, and we have a very competent shore crew behind us led by Viki Moore. Viki is a very experienced sailor, who sits on the board of Yachting New Zealand. She writes a sailing blog www.astrolabesailing.com which is followed by over 5000 people. She is also a regular contributor to Boating New Zealand Magazine, Cruising Helmsman and Sistership Magazine, and will be promoting VM2 Racing widely.
Other key members of our shore crew include:
Our coach – Matt Stechmann of Hurricane Rigging is a previous OK Dinghy World Champion, been involved in Volvo Ocean races and the recent Americas Cup campaigns.  He is supporting us to achieve the best we can. This means ensuring High Voltage is set up so we can get the best out of her, and we’re in shape physically and mentally to give it our best.

Our shore crew at each stopover. In addition to Viki and Matt, will include Craig Edwards, champion skipper of the 2019 Young 88 South Island Champs, Naomi Wilde and Camilla Gibbons both avid and competent sailors based in Christchurch and our partners, who will provide support on a rotational basis.

Why Do We Want To Compete?
This is the ultimate challenge in so many ways – when we are out on the sea and if something goes wrong it’s completely up to us to sort it, in a completely unforgiving environment.
There are a lot of young female sailors that are keen to compete in major offshore races, and we’re hoping that we will inspire these women that if we can do this, they can too!
Although we haven’t completed a lot of two-handed races, we have found that we work very well together. Both of us are focussed on results and determined to give it our best. We like to approach problems with smart thinking, rather than brute strength (so we have adapted High Voltage in a way that we can handle her). As we’ve done a lot of the work ourselves to get the boat ready, we know the boat and all the systems well. Vic is comfortable running the show from the cockpit and Emily on deck. On top of this Vic is super organised and big on the planning detail, so together we will be one of the best prepared teams. 
We will certainly overcome anything thrown at us to get to the start line!  Let alone around the rest of the course
There is without doubt an element of determination as we have been told “You girls can’t do that!”, and that we’re not strong enough or tough enough for the conditions that will be thrown at us, and that we won’t get far past the start line. This is only fuelling our desire more and helping to drive our desire to not only get around the course safely but to also be competitive and right up there – we’re quietly aiming to beat the other boats in our class.
What Have We Achieved To Date?
In our view this is a three-year campaign.  2018 was a year of planning, and obtaining the correct boat. 2019 is training and preparation, and 2020 will be realising the goal!
We are well on track.  After months of searching Vic purchased the yacht being an Elliott 1050 in mid 2018.  Her search for a suitable yacht to compete on took her to both Australia and round New Zealand, before settling on High Voltage.  High Voltage was built in 1991, and is a NZ designed 35-foot yacht, which has been offshore competing in the Auckland to Fiji race, and is well suited to the adventure. Many have asked why not a larger yacht?  This is because as the size increases so do the loads experienced with the manual yacht systems.  This size of boat suits our strength, but certainly will not be the largest yacht when compared to other entrants in the fleet and therefore not the fastest in terms of taking line honours.
We have had some modifications done to the yacht to make her suited to short-handed sailing (as when Vic purchased her she had been more recently raced fully crewed). These have been modifications to the sailing systems rather than the yacht itself, and include:
 A new smaller main sail – to replace the large powerful square top roached main.
 Cockpit reefing – so we don’t need to leave the cockpit to put in a reef
 A top down code 0 (furling system) – again safety to minimise the time exposed on the bow in bad weather 
 Reconfigured main sail sheeting system – to reduce the loads on the main sheet to suit our strength
 Rebuilding the rudder – adapting the shape so that brute strength is not required to steer the boat in strong winds and building seas, ultimately enabling us to sail faster with larger sails 
In addition, there are requirements which need to be met when racing offshore in terms of boat capability and safety.  The boat has only required minor expenditure to achieve this level including the procurement of a liferaft and some additional communications systems.
Currently we are practicing our systems and processes and forming a discipline so that it will be like clockwork when we are in the race. As we learn more of how the boat performs in different conditions, there are some further modifications that we would like to make. And like anything boating – they are costly.
A key part of this challenge is also focussing on ourselves. Fitness is key, to ensure we have the resilience to maintain high performance through what is essentially an endurance race with a fair dose of sleep deprivation, and we are following a strict fitness programme. We’re also focussing on other things that may be taken for granted, such as managing the sleep deprivation and ensuring we have nutritious food and drink for the task at hand, to ensure our performance is optimised. And we are now also turning our heads to the mental aspects of the challenge, and developing strategies to deal with the difficult parts that we know to expect to ensure that we stay focussed.

We are aiming to not only be competitive but to do so in an environmentally conscious way. This means that we’re putting more thought into the food and drink we’ll be taking, as well as other consumables to ensure we have a minimal footprint on the environment. We’ll be sailing around the North Island on wind power, supplemented by solar panels to power our electronic equipment so we figure we’re part way there. We want to go that bit more to demonstrate that there are steps that sailors can take to reduce their impact on the marine environment – if we can do it in strenuous conditions then anyone can!

What we require? How can our sponsors / partners help?
There are still a number of upgrades required to get us to the start line, and then the race costs themselves which include:
 Inner forestay for storm sails
 Mounting the autohelm, an essential ‘third’ team member
 Travel, accommodation and boat berthing costs
 Specific food, drink and supplies for the race
 General maintenance and running repairs during the event
When we started out it was our view that the race will require a minimum total investment of $50,000, over and above the yacht purchase.  This is proving to be a fair estimate. We are fully invested in the event, and to date have met all required costs. But we require funding to complete the final preparation for the boat and for costs anticipated during the race. 
We are seeking sponsorship to assist us in the final part of our preparation for this challenge.
Acknowledging our sponsors
The event is run by the SSANZ.  This group actively promotes the event, and the entrants as much as it can through news media, SSANZ website and YNZ website, and through interested related yachting groups.
We would be very willing to display our sponsor’s branding on our sails, yacht parts, and our event clothing, and we will promote our supporters during the event and also through our planning and training period, and through the promotion work we do with the event.
We have a very high profile on Social Media. Viki Moore’s sailing blog, Facebook and Instagram pages are followed by over 8000 people. Your brand would be extensively promoted in photographs, blog posts, newsletters, and magazine articles via these channels and shared via the other Social Media sites we influence including Women Who Sail New Zealand, the Canterbury Yachting Association, Little Ship Club of Canterbury and Naval Point Club Lyttelton.  
We will be engaging, fun, and interesting to follow, and we want you to feel like you are also part of our team. We promise to share everything – warts and all! The good, the bad, the ugly and the awesome!
Your organisation will be kept fully informed with exclusive footage you can share on your own social media channels and amongst your clients and staff. You will be able to track our progress during the build-up to the event, as we race around the course and on our return, we can share our learnings and experiences with your team. There may also be corporate hosting opportunities in each stopover point should this be of interest. And Vic and Emily are able to speak to your organisation and clients before and after event to share their adventures. 
We have a reasonably high profile in terms of the event as we are the only girls team competing and it is one of the most challenging and high-profile events on the SSANZ Calendar.
We are committed to showcasing what women can achieve in this male dominated sport, and that women can not only participate but do so at a high level. Our intention is to inspire women to achieve in sailing and in fact in whatever arena they are competing or working in, and particularly so where women are a minority and society generally does not expect them to succeed.
We also want to profile Christchurch sailors and encourage the sport in our region. If your organisation wishes to make a statement about empowering women and promoting Canterbury then we believe we can support you in this.
Drop us a line if you are keen to discuss this opportunity in more detail or if you have any ideas of people for us to contact.
Many thanks, Victoria, Emily & Viki


5 thoughts on “RNI 2020 – We need your help!

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

  2. Pingback: Reflections of the RNI2020 | Astrolabe Sailing

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