Doyle Sails’ very own Brand and Operations Manager Harri Wren is about to embark on a great challenge with her partner and co-skipper Peron Pearse.
The affable duo is heading for the start line of the SSANZ Round North Island yacht race later this month.
Harri and Peron’s Ross 930 “Start Me Up” will be the smallest yacht in the fleet of 38. The 1200 nautical mile race is an anticlockwise circumnavigation of the North Island of New Zealand, taking all North Island capes to port. Auckland to Manganui, Waikawa, Napier, and back to Auckland.
We caught up to see what keeps them coming back for more, and how they are preparing for this next adventure together.
A quick history of your sailing careers to date.
Peron grew up in Western Australia, sailing dinghies before moving to NZ for a gap year – and he’s still here 7 years later. When not working on Start Me Up, you’ll find Peron on the bow of the Melges 40 Clockwork or hooning around on an 18-foot skiff. Peron has plenty of offshore miles, the highlight being the Groupama race on the previous BW37 Clockwork. Harri grew up in Auckland, sailing dinghies but found her niche on keelboats after completing the RNZYS YTP. Currently, you’ll find her (not so) elegantly running around the bow of the Ker 40 “Zephyrus” for the Auckland racing circuit. Now we own a Ross 930 together, “Start Me Up” which has been the focus for the past year, with the SSANZ Round North Island just a few weeks away. Start Me Up may be one of the smaller boats in the fleet, but she can get up and go.
Your sailing highlight to date for you both.
Finishing the SSANZ Enduro – a 250nm race that ended up being our RNI qualifier was a huge undertaking. We spent most of the first night in 30+ knots, not seeing much below 25 the entire race. Trying to take small naps each, while the other got hit in the face with a wave every 10 seconds made for a brutal night. We turned the corner and thought we would run under just main and jib before quickly deciding that we were going too slow. Our top speed topped out at 17 knots down waves with the A5 up and we were in our element again. A huge portion of the fleet retired from the race during the night. It wasn’t until daybreak that we realised that we were one of the last out on the course. Finishing that 44-hour race gave us the push that the RNI was something we could achieve in our little boat. Since then, the work that has gone into the boat means we have a much better set-up, so we are excited to see what it can do around the lap.
What was the driving force for you both to undertake the Round North Island?
At the end of 2021 on a cruising holiday on our previous boat, we both realised an RNI was on the bucket list. We started planning and thinking forward to RNI2026. It began feeling a little bit too far away and when we found Start Me Up, we knew she was the right boat for us. Within a year of the start date, we took ownership and have been in preparation mode ever since.
What kind of Doyle Inventory are you using?
We recently purchased a Doyle Sails A2 which has enhanced our wardrobe. It will be extra valuable on those breezier days when we could just do without the added complexity of running a spinnaker pole two-handed as well as having the ability to run some hotter angles. Here’s hoping we get to put it up for a serious chunk of the lap.
What’s important to you both throughout your programme that has made it work for you?
Supporting each other is key, as two-handed sailing has its pros and cons. Everything takes a bit longer, you must take the time to do it sensibly and keep each other safe. The most important aspect of our yachting (and relationship) is the trust that comes with it. You must trust the other to keep the boat moving and complete a manoeuvre correctly so you can get some of the minimal rest.
We both have our strengths which we have learned to use to our advantage when racing two-handed. Harri’s setups, sail changes, and forward-thinking combined with Peron’s motivation to always keep the boat moving have worked as a pretty good combination so far.
What keeps you coming back to offshore two-handed yachting?
Something crazy. Still not quite sure why we like being exhausted and racing 1200nm in a 30-foot boat. Maybe ask us afterward if we still like it!
Follow the race here : https://www.ssanz.co.nz/rni2023/
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