Record entries received for 2020 Evolution Sails Round North Island Race


The 2020 edition of the SSANZ Two Handed Round North Island race will feature the biggest ever fleet with the maximum 40 entrants now confirmed, 8 of those hailing from south of the Bombay Hills.

The race starts in Auckland February 22, with the first leg to Mangonui (154NM), Leg 2 from Mangonui to Wellington (550NM), Leg 3 from Wellington to Napier (200NM), and the final leg from Napier returning to Auckland (367NM). The race is expected to take approximately 2 weeks in total to complete.

RPNYC will be well represented by Tony Wells teaming up with Craig Shearer on Blink, Geoff Herd and Phil Gurnsey on The Guarantee returning for another lap, as is Matt Kerr and Craig Smith on Satellite Spy. Other Wellington boats entered are Am Meer (Katie Mathison and Geoff Thorn LBYC) and Arbitare (Murray Hartley TBBC and Dave Ormandy).

Making the longer trip to the start line from the South Island are Victoria Murdoch and Emily Riley (Elliot 1050 High Voltage), Guy Mannering and Matt Perry (Farr 1020 Distraction), and Yuri Schokking and Richard Borrell (Beneteau First 36.7 Fifth Dimension).

Also confirmed is the event’s major sponsor Evolution Sails, with Rodney Keenan stating “We are thrilled to be part of this exceptional race, the history, talented sailors, and challenge that this race is, make it one of a few truly iconic New Zealand races. Evolution Sails are excited to be part of this event.  With three members of the Evolution Sails Auckland team also racing in the event we truly understand the needs of the shorthanded sailor and welcome the opportunity to help these sailors get the most out of their yachts and sails. We can’t wait to be with the fleet on the start line in a few months’ time.”

The Evolution Sails sailors competing include Rodney himself on a Class 40, and Josh”Booboo” Tucker teaming up with Damon Joliffe on the Elliot 10.5 Motorboat II, which started it’s racing life here in Wellington as The Butcher.

Other ex-Wellington boats on the entry list include CU Later (Ross 8m), Higher Ground (Ross 10.66), Coppelia (Farr 38) and Gale Force (Elliot 1050). A full entry list is available on the SSANZ website.

It’s a diverse fleet that make up the 40 boats – from the IMOCA 60 Awen sailed by Evan Davies and Sharon Ferris through to the smallest boat Moving Violation, an Elliot 7.9 crewed by Ben Beasley and Nick Gardiner. This size differential and the popularity of the event has posed a few headaches for the organisers.

After the first 30 entries sold out in 45 minutes when entries opened, the waiting list soon grew. The SSANZ committee and local rep Geoff Herd have been working hard to find berthing space for more boats. With Chaffers Marina already full Wellington City Council have come to the party with berthing at Queens Wharf.

Race Director Jon Henry has been blown away with the support for the event from sponsors, local clubs and councils. “Wellington will be amazing with the large yachts berthed at Queens Wharf, and the smaller boats at Chaffers Marina making for a great opportunity for the public to view the fleet. The support from these partner organisations has ensured that we can put on this legendary race and have the biggest ever fleet on the start line.”

Making it to the start line of this epic race is a challenge in itself. Each yacht must have a Category 2 Safety Certificate, have completed a 250 nm qualifying passage with both Co-Skippers on board. The Co-Skippers must both also complete First Aid training, Advanced Sea Survival qualifications, and provide a medical certificate deeming them fit to compete. Each yacht must meet an extensive list of safety requirements and have completed safety drills, all of which are in addition to preparing the boat to ensure it is ready for this epic race and getting as many miles under the keel as possible two handed before the race. Added to that boats from this part of the country often complete 6 legs – the 4 legs of the race plus the delivery up to Auckland and then the return back home.

With just over 6 months to go until the start of the 2020 Evolution Sails Round North Island the excitement for this race is starting to build and we look forward to seeing the fleet on the start line in February 2020 and arriving in Wellington less than a week later. Liasing with the SSANZ organising committee is RPNYC Rear Commodore Katie Hakes to ensure the Wellington Stopover, including the famous craft beer tour, is well organised. Keep watching this space and the SSANZ website for more updates as preparations continue.


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