How to get a 42-year-old wooden 30-footer ready for the Helly Hansen Three Kings Race

 In Major Regattas

Sinisa “Sin” Grujicic and Nigel Bish are set to race in the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron’s Helly Hansen Three Kings Race in a Ross 930. But not just any Ross 930. Hotdogger This is a 42-year-old wooden boat, and they are taking on the race in the shorthanded division to prepare themselves for what they might encounter in the 2026 SSANZ Round North Island Race.

Nigel, who has been working alongside Sin to get the Hotdogger ready, is excited for the boat to get Category 2 clearance for the first time in the 30-footers history.

“We had to reduce the size of the aft windows despite them being toughened glass, and we did it by scarfing through the bolting and epoxying new Mullions to match the existing ones,” explained Nigel.

The pair recently competed in the Route 66 and Gulf Triangle races, and then Hotdogger was straight out of the water for Yachting New Zealand’s inspector Jon Henry to go over her with an eagle eye in preparation for reaching Category 2 standards.

“We had all the stability information in hand thanks to Gary from Leading Edge Boatbuilders, but I think Jon had already worked out she would stay upright after seeing the bulb,” said Nigel.

“We only have an outboard in a well, so power generation falls to solar. To supplement the existing panel, we bought a 110w shingled flexible panel and made a lightweight but strong platform out of 15mm foam and glass. We mounted it on a universal windsurfer mast that is adjustable to angle in any direction,” explained Nigel.

“This is a test for the 2026 Round North Island Race, where we will most likely have another one with them both mounted off the transom on carbon poles. It’s tricky having it low enough to not create drag upwind but far enough above the water to not get wiped out!” said Nigel.

The shorthanded team are big on safety and have installed AIS.

“The B&G V60-B Ais equipped radio was the lightest and easiest to install and a great way of getting it into such a small, basic boat,” said Nigel.

“As a rule, Ross 930s tend to be just as happy underwater as above it. And the original companionway sliders aren’t renowned for being particularly good at keeping the sea out of the cabin. We’ve been developing this slide in dodger over the SSANZ series and 2023 Coastal Classic and finally have it to the point it where it could be painted. A splash of Spaceship Orange won’t hurt when it comes to being spotted out there!” said an excited Nigel, who is keen to get Hotdogger onto the start line and head north with Sin in the Helly Hansen Three Kings Race.

Hotdogger isn’t the only Ross 930 taking on the 500-nm race. Start Me Up is also taking on the challenge; however, they have opted for the fully crewed division. Regardless, these two boats will be keen as mustard to be the first small boat across the finish line. They are going up against a variety of designs, including a Stewart 34, Stomp 38, Sunfast 3300s, 40-footers, TP52, and a Botin Carkeek 55.

Each yacht in the fleet will be fitted with a YB Tracker so those at home and keep in check with the race as it unfolds. The tracker feed will be available on the race website – www.rnzys.org.nz/rnzys-events/three-kings-offshore-race

The fleet is scheduled to start at 1500 hours on Thursday 11th April, however given the current forecast and weather warnings in place, the Race Management Team is keeping a close watch on the situation.

RNZYS General Committee member and Race Director for the Helly Hansen Three Kings Race, Scott Wilson, said that he and his team are keeping a close eye on the weather situation.

“We are closely monitoring the unfolding forecast for both wind and sea state. The goal is to get the fleet around the Three Kings safely, and we will provide an update on the situation on Wednesday, the 10th of April,” said Wilson.

The major prize on offer is a $12,000 OMEGA Seamaster timepiece which will be awarded to the top placed RNZYS boat on PHRF overall. In addition to this fantastic prize, Helly Hansen also has a rack of prizes on offer which will be presented at the official prize giving ceremony at 1900 hours on Friday the 3rd of May at RNZYS. 

For those racing, Helly Hansen has also provided social media contribution prizes. Competitors are encouraged to tag @rnzys and @hellyhansenanz to be eligible for these prizes. Alternatively, sailors can provide their content directly to the social media race contact via WhatsApp number +6421892004. 


AKONGA Shorthanded 9407 Nick Roberts Dehler 41 
CLOCKWORK Fully Crewed NZ110011 Steve Mair Shaw 12 
EQUILIBRIUM Fully Crewed 9380 Graham Matthews Marten 55/Botin Carkeek 55 
FAVOURITE… Shorthanded 9023 Andrew Aitken Elliott 1350 
HOTDOGGER Shorthanded 4812 Sinisa Grujicic Ross 930 
INDIS Shorthanded 9877 Andrew Benton Sun Fast 3300 
MR KITE II Fully Crewed 16522 Nathan Williams Cape 40 
PERFECT STORM Fully Crewed 9565 Lori Tyrrell Stomp 38 
PLAYBUOY Shorthanded 136 Guy Pilkington Stewart 34 
10 RAGNAR Shorthanded 10082 Derek Kerr Sunfast 3300 
11 RUM BUCKET Fully Crewed NZL9674 Quintin Fowler More 55 
12 SERENA Fully Crewed 28538 Josh Adams T1150 
13 SHIMMER Shorthanded 4379 Ben Freedman Townson 34 
14 START ME UP Fully Crewed K4903 Peron Pearse Ross 930 
15 V5 Fully Crewed NZL55555 Brian Petersen Alan Andrews Tp 52 
16 VIXEN Fully Crewed NZLO76 James Tucker Verdier 40 
17 WIRED Fully Crewed NZL10303 Rob Bassett Tp52 Bakewell/White 
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