RNI 2020 – Race Preparation

We have just one month to go before the Short Handed Sailing Association of New Zealand, Evolution Sails Round North Island Two Handed Yacht Race 2020 begins!

Victoria & Emily have delivered High Voltage north from Waikawa to Auckland this week. Gaining a lot more essential boat testing & training time along the way.

With all the hard work pre-race stuff now done, I thought I’d better give you an update on everything that has gone on behind the scenes to get both High Voltage and Vic & Emily to this stage.

You may remember from my post back in April 2019, that Victoria has been planning on doing this race for many years. She bought the beautiful High Voltage an Elliott 1050, in 2018 and while it felt like we had plenty of time to get both ourselves and the boat ready, it’s been a pretty steady slog to tick all the jobs off the list to get to this stage.

We’ve had a few set-backs along the way. My ex-husband was killed in a jet boating accident in February, and my focus switched from the race to taking care of my grieving teenage son. Thankfully our friend Emily Riley was able to step in to be the other co-skipper. Emily has already sailed solo around both the North and South Islands so had plenty of short-handed sailing experience to bring to the team.

img_9056Emily Rudkin & Victoria Murdoch

Another setback was the keel having a small brush with an uncharted rock in a remote bay while cruising around d’Urville Island last Christmas. Thankfully only cosmetic damage on that one.

The rudder also required a rather substantial rebuild. It wasn’t at all balanced, making steering in heavy weather particularly difficult. After a trip up the coast with many broaches Vic had had enough! The boys at Hurricane rebuilt it in record time (working all through the night) to enable us to race in the Waikawa Womens Regatta.


After I withdrew from the race, I was promoted to “Director of Racing – VM2 Racing” and I’ve been charged with helping out with all sorts of different tasks to assist the girls with their preparation and getting to the start line.

So if you are planning on doing the Round North Island Yacht Race any time, or any other big race campaign for that matter, hopefully some of these notes might give you some idea of what needs to be done.


With just 30 available entries, Vic & I were ready and waiting to get online at the opening time to ensure that we got in! All the spots sold out in 45 minutes! They’ve managed to add a few more entries on now too when they were able to get more marina space in the stopover ports.

Here is our profile on the SSANZ website.


Once you’ve entered you then need to provide evidence that you and the boat are prepared for the race, including:

  • A Cat 2 safety certificate
  • Details and measurements of the boat
  • Sailing CV’s of both skippers
  • Medical certificate
  • Evidence of sea time and training qualifications
  • Insurance

The Boat

High Voltage was set up as a fully crewed racing boat. So there were a few modifications to be made to ensure that she was easier to sail short-handed, and safer to sail. So far Vic has:

  • Moved the position of the mainsheet. It was in the centre of the cockpit and had the tendency to want to throw the mainsheet person overboard. After blood was drawn, Vic decided to move the mainsheet aft with an easier to trim German mainsheet system where through the use of two additional winches this can be trimmed at the same time as helming.
  • Victoria changed the huge square top mainsail to a pinhead, with a single line reefing system (which means that they don’t need to go to the mast to put in a reef and it can be easily done by one person).
  • A Try-Sail has also been purchased which can be easily fitted to the mast track. It is rigged in a manner where it is hoisted on the track before deployment and undertaken once the crew member is safely back in the cockpit.
  • The team at Hurricane Rigging installed an inner forestay which is where a storm headsail can be hoisted but is primarily used for a J5.
  • A top down furling system and a sock for the gennaker, meaning that one person can easily handle these sails on their own.
  • We are also using a furling jib. This is a bit of an ugly sail, so if anyone feels a sudden rush of generosity we would love a new one!
  • All the sails have been tested, and Matt Stechmann – (our coach) has drawn up a sail card – which details which sails should be flown in which conditions – saving any thinking for tired brains!
  • A new heavy duty auto helm has been installed along with wind gear. All B&G so they can talk to each other.
  • All the interior cushions – apart from their beds have been removed to save weight and only a spartan amount of galley equipment remains on board.
  • The motor has been serviced.
  • Batteries replaced.
  • Diesel tote tank system set up. (for spare fuel for charging the batteries)
  • Installed AIS
  • Spent a LOT of money!!!

img_0014(the old scary mainsheet)


Vic has installed an Iridium Go with a subscription to Predict Wind . The Iridium Go can also allow you to send position emails and text messages via the satellites. It also downloads the GRIB weather files. Predict wind can also offer weather routing for the fastest or safest route. Vic has had plenty of practice using the system now and very kindly did the weather routing for us on our recent voyage on Wildwood up the coast.


We are using a combination of our B&G Chartplotter, Navionics on the iPad and we also have paper charts on board.


Emily threw herself overboard after the Waikawa Womens Regatta for our MOB drill. Very brave given it was very early spring and a bit chilly! In addition to that:

  • Lifejackets and harnesses have been tested
  • Fire extinguishers checked
  • First aid kit updated to Cat 2
  • Life raft surveyed
  • Jacklines installed
  • Updating all the EPIRB and PLB details

Vic and Emily also wear their life jackets and are clipped on!


As well as lots of time on the water in different conditions, perfecting systems & techniques, sail hoists and drops, manoeuvres and other things like watches and getting enough rest. We’ve also had to do:

  • Strength & fitness training. Thanks to our friend Dee Owers who has made us a personalised training programme. In addition to this Emily has been doing 150 press-ups a day!
  • A 250 mile qualifying voyage.
  • Advanced Sea Survival Course
  • Offshore Marine Medic
  • Learning how to use the Predictwind & Iridium Go

h3PXMSP4SQSNbYyf1C34wgVic & I doing the Marine Medic course


Vic is an expert at provisioning. They’ve got their favourite easy to eat foods on board, including some freeze dried options for when it gets rough and they’re starving. One of the biggest challenges of the race will be making sure they stay warm, dry, fed & rested. As well as food, we’ll also need to ensure that they’ve got plenty of:

  • Water
  • Gas for cooking
  • Diesel for the engine

In addition to testing various food options we’ve found our appetite varies a lot depending on the conditions. Having a variety of options on board is the best. We keep a thermos of hot water or a mixed up drink or soup ready to go for night shifts, and we eat lots of ham and cheese toasties which can be pre-made before leaving port and just thrown in the pan.


We run a rough two hours on and two hours off watch system. When the weather is rough our preference is to stay in our wet weather gear and sleep on a bean bag on the floor with our Sea Rug thrown over the top. The Sea Rug was designed for the Sydney Hobart race and designed to keep you warm even when its wet. This way we are dressed and ready to go if needed in a hurry.


We put together a sponsorship proposal with the help of our friend Naomi who works a lot in this area. We’d like to say a big thank you to our sponsors and supporters:

And of course the race sponsor Evolution Sails.

There is still time to become a supporter! Just drop us a line.

Social Media

I knew I had got our social media posts about right when a friend recently commented that “He felt like he was on board racing with us.”

We’ve got the largest social media following out of all our competitors with nearly 4000 followers on our Facebook and Instagram pages. If you aren’t already following us please do – that’s where you’ll find all the race action as it happens along the way:



We are also very lucky to have the amazing Suellen from Live Sail Die doing the photographs and media for the regatta. Keep an eye out for us on her page too!

Travel Bookings

Our rough itinerary is as follows:

  • 15 Feb – Vic & Emily fly to Auckland to do the final touches on the boat & provisioning
  • Thu 20 Feb – Pre-Race BBQ
  • Fri 21 Feb – Skippers briefing
  • Sat 22 Feb – Race starts! Auckland to Mangonui
  • Shore crew drives Auckland to Mangonui
  • Stay at Mangonui Motel (great view out to the heads!) & enjoy some of the town’s famous fish n chips!
  • Sun 23 Feb – hoping the yachts arrive today!
  • Mon 24 Feb – possible race start Mangonui to Wellington
  • Mon 24 Feb – shore crew drive back to Auckland & fly home
  • Fri 28 Feb – Shore crew fly to Wellington – hopefully the yachts arrive then!
  • Stay at Apollo Lodge (super close to the marina)
  • Sat 29 Feb – rest day
  • Sun 1 Mar – rest day or race restart? Wellington to Napier
  • Mon 2 Mar – shore crew fly to Napier
  • Stay at The Rocks Motel (close to the yacht club)
  • Tue 3 Mar – hoping yachts arrive today!
  • Wed 4 Mar – race restart? Auckland to Napier Shore crew fly home
  • Fri 6 Mar – possible finish date.

Of course our dates are all a bit dependent on the weather, and when the yachts actually come in. But its a starting point, and we can change them around if required. I’ll update this post with the actual arrival times for reference if you’re reading this in preparation for a future race.

Shore Crew

I’ve got a great team of shore crew coming along with me. Many thanks to Craig, Naomi, Camilla, Willie, Vonda and of course Vic’s partner Johnny & Emily’s partner Tim. We’ve also got our coach Matt Stechmann coming along to most of the ports as well.

The main aim of the shore crew is to:

  • Get High Voltage safely docked
  • Get Vic & Emily off the boat and in to the shower, fed a good meal and off to bed for some much needed rest.
  • Dry, fold and stow the sails
  • Wash the decks
  • Check the engine, oil, bilge, coolant, belts
  • Fill the fuel tanks
  • Fill the water
  • Plug in to shore power to charge the batteries
  • Charge up all the electronics – iPad, Iridium Go, jump start pack, torches.
  • Repairs to any sails
  • Ensure sails are dried & stowed correctly
  • Remove rubbish
  • Clean the bilges
  • Clean the fridge
  • Restock food
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Clean the floors
  • Wash teatowels, sheets etc
  • Air out wet weather gear
  • Ensure Vic & Emily to weather routing for next leg
  • Then PARTY!!

Team T Shirts

We got some very smart team T Shirts designed & printed by MyShirt.


Our Competitors

Big thank you to our fellow competitors who have been really supportive. Especially Sally Garrett from Coppelia who spent a long time talking with us about the race before we entered. Matt Perry from Hurricane Rigging and Guy Mannering on Distraction for towing High Voltage in to Napier when the motor wouldn’t start (flat battery). Geoff & Deb from The Guarantee who have given us so much advice and encouragement. Ken Ormandy from Gale Force for taking the time to show us his 1050 set up, and Josh Tucker for letting us poke around on the lovely Motorboat. All the other Elliott owners have been very kind answering our endless questions.

We are really looking forward to meeting all the other competitors. Being one of the few South Island entries we have yet to meet some of the other Auckland based yachties, and we are looking forward to showing them our stuff!

The Organisers

There is a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes at the Short Handed Sailing Association of New Zealand to run this race. A very big thank you to everyone who makes this event happen!

See you on the start line! 22 Feb 2020.

Cheers Viki, Vic & Emily

Team VM2 Racing


2 thoughts on “RNI 2020 – Race Preparation

  1. Pingback: Reflections of the RNI2020 | Astrolabe Sailing

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