New Zealand’s National Ocean Racing Championship once again graces the Surfski World Series on the 7th March 2015, after a hiatus of a few years. International paddling greats have used this event to pick up some much sought after points in order to determine the best marathon distance surfski paddler in the world, and last year’s winner South African Dawid Mocke (3 X World Champion) was no exception.
The – 2014 New Zealand surfski scene is building up to a hightened level of activity, with solid races every few weeks currently, as we head into the countries premier event, the 2014 King Of The Harbour, sponsored by Vaikobi Paddlewear. This event doubles as Canoe Racing New Zealand's national ocean racing title event, and is rumoured to have some of the planets finest paddle-weilding atheletes lining up to smash it out in this year's event on the iconic Auckland-Waiheke Island course.
The predominant spring SW’s and late summer NE’s make this a logical choice for an Auckland-to-Waiheke or Waiheke-to-Auckland course respectively. Last year I clocked 24.29km on my Garmin over the same course, which again will be held between Waiheke Island's picturesque Matiatia Bay and Birkenhead Wharf in Auckland's inner harbour. For the first time in many years, this event has lost it's standing on the World Surfski Series, meaning the door is wide open for a New Zealand based downwind event on the series calendar for future years!
The 24.29km course between Waiheke Island and the Auckland harbour, on the Hauraki Gulf:Prone to strong SW's and the odd NE weather system.
Dawid Mocke and Cory Hill (current 2014 World Surfski Series second and thrid placed respectively) are both starters at this early stage. Local boy, Mike Walker, Olympian and multiple previous King Of The Harbour title holder, was heard to have exclaimed at the recent Butty Moore race in Taurange: "I just CANT retire now, bloody Oskar (Stielau) beat me mate!", making him a potential podium contender. A number of other Australian representative paddlers and even a few South Islanders are expected to make the trip. Birthday Boy Ben Fouhy, NZ’s Olympic Medallist in the K1 1000m event and last year's victor could be a threat if his calendar allows for a show this year (Happy Birthday Ben!). Rachel Clarke, last year's Queen of the Harbour is rumoured to be using this as a stepping stone to her Molokai ascent for this year, keeping the womans rankings honest.
New Zealand Season Roundup
A number of local and offshore events are listed below, rounding out the New Zealand surfski season for 2014, with the Tahitian Mara'amu classic drawing the keenest paddlers deep into a winter training regime. There are a number of weekly race series, and the prominant ocean paddling clubs of Takapuna Beach (on Auckland's north shore), and the Royal Akarana Club (for the city boys and girls) have regular squad sessions throughout the week. If anybody is interested in finding out more about the New Zealand surfski scene, jump online the Pacific Paddlers Facebook Group and have a chat with the local paddlers, whether it's a boat you need for an upcoming race, or some more information on events or clubs.
22 March: Great Barrier Island Ocean Race, NZ. A new entry onto the NZ calendar, and timed to capatilise on the competitors travelling to Auckland for the King Of The Harbour the following weekend.
29 March: King Of The Harbour, Auckland, NZ. New Zealand's premier Surfski Event! Ferry trips and down winds on the menu.
30 March: Dawid Mocke Paddling Clinic, Auckland NZ. Learn to Paddle like the Pro! A number of demo-boats will be available for this clinic day, including the long-anticipated new Flow Kayaks 'Addict'
12 April: Mighty Bo Herbert race, Tutukaka, NZ. Will we see the same monstrous seas that smashed many a boat at last years classic?...
13 September: The Mara'amu World Series Surfski Race, Tahiti. As overseas competitors fly through Auckland to this venue, local paddlers are capatilising on this, and seeking to establish an exciting event in the World Heritage NZ Northland east coast waters a week or so before the Mara'amu event. Watch this space!
What do you get if you take a tiny South Pacific Nation, mix this with a (borderline obsessive-compulsive) national fervor for all-things-adventure-sport, add a pinch of tight exchange-rates, stir in a very precise quantity of hi-tech engineering prowess, and ladle in a generous dollop of gutsy, dogged determination to out-perform countries 10 times their size (and budget!) on a world stage?
The answer is quite possibly Flow-Kayak’s latest offering, the long awaited Superstar!
It’s only a few weeks until the 11th King of the Harbour Ocean ski race and excitement is building in the surf ski community. It’s a close-knit group and all agree that our race here in Auckland is unique in the world and one of the best.
[Editor: apologies for the late posting of this report. The race actually took place on 2 April] Olympic silver medallist Ben Fouhy celebrated his return to competitive kayaking with a win today in New Zealand's premier surf ski race the Contegro King of the Harbour. Under the clear blue sky's and glassy Hauraki Gulf, Fouhy and defending champion.