King of the Harbour – Countdown

Thursday, 27 March 2008 14:19 | Written by 
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[Editor: will be covering the event live on Saturday 29th March from about 12h00 Auckland time (1am South African time!) so don't forget to check it out.]

King of the Harbour logo

Update from Event Director Kirsty Elmiger

With just under a week to go until King of the Harbour 2008 there has been a steady flow of entries over the past week. An impressive number of international paddlers have signed up, including a number of the world's top surfski paddlers in the top 20 on the World Series as well as our own world number 1 female surfski paddler, Katie Pocock. This international turnout promises to provide for a challenging race for locals who will be up against paddlers from Tahiti, South Africa, Australia, Spain and France. Also encouraging is a number of outrigger paddlers who signed up this week which clearly indicates that King of the Harbour is a fantastic event for all ocean based paddling disciplines. There has even been an enquiry this week from a few local stand up paddle (SUP) boarders keen to give the short distance 8km course a go. King of the Harbour organiser, Kirsty Elmiger, is excited by this diversity of interest in the event which leaves a lot of room for future growth of the event.

With a current total of 35 entries [Editor: the total is now more than 60 with 17 internationals], of which a fifth are international paddlers, it is hoped that more local paddlers will sign up this week. The New Zealand surfski and outrigger paddling community is a significant one with a lot of talent, and it is hoped that the race will be well supported by the end of the week.

King of the Harbour is organised by Takapuna Boating Club and is endorsed by Canoe Racing New Zealand. The event includes two distance course options - a long distance 28km course which is the Surfski World Series race, as well as the inaugural Takapuna Boating Club Surfski Champs, and a short distance 8km race. Both events are open to single surfski, single outrigger and single sea kayak craft. The short distance course is also open to Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Boards.

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Cream of the Pacific Crop to compete

(Or something like that!)

This year's King of the Harbour is going to be a cracker in terms of competition...  Although last year's winner Dawid Mocke won't be there (he stayed home to compete in the inaugural Plett Easter Race), some of the top Australian and Tahitian paddlers will be in Auckland to take on New Zealand's best...

Tim Jacobs

Tim Jacobs
Tim Jacobs

Tim Jacobs, racing a V10 Elite, seemed to be Australia's fastest surf ski paddler... until he was beaten by two of his compatriots, Caine Ekstein and Jeremy Cotter at the recent Bridge to Beach race in Sydney, raising eyebrows around the world. 

Tim's World Series results this season include:

  • - 3rd in Dubai behind Dawid Mocke and Hank McGregor. He beat the Chalupsky brothers who came 4th (Herman) and 5th (Oscar).
  • - 6th in Perth behind Clint Pretorius (1st), Daryl Bartho (2nd), Oscar Chalupsky (3rd), Dawid Mocke (4th) and Herman Chalupsky (5th).

Tim joined the Epic team after the 2007 Dubai Shamaal.

Caine Ekstein

The 22 year old Nipper Coach from the Northcliffe Surf Life Saving Club only started paddling long distance surf skis five months ago after encouragement from his training mate Jeremy Cotter.  Caine is paddling a Fenn Mako 6, sponsored by Dean Gardiner.

Caine is hoping to get to Molokai but says he's definitely going to compete in the Durban World Cup in June.

Jeremy Cotter

Jeremy Cotter
Jeremy Cotter - the man to beat?

Jeremy coaches at Kurrawa SLSC in Queensland.  He's had a couple of great results recently including wins at the 2007 20 Beaches race and, of course, the Bridge to Beach race where he came from behind to beat Caine Ekstein to the beach by a length.

Jeremy's not going to make it to Molokai this year but will be in Durban where he's looking forward to meeting Oscar & Herman Chalupsky whom he beat at the Sydney King of the Harbour race aged 18!

Jeremy paddles a Fenn Mako 6 currently, but will be moving to the Mako Elite when they become available in Australia.

Nick Holt

Nick Holt
Nick Holt

According to Dean Gardiner, Nick Holt is more of a sprint paddler at present: "He will almost definitely be a contender for Fenn Hotspots at future events," said Dean.  "Give him a year or so more of some distance paddling and he will definitely be pushing the top guys."

The 32 year old lives in Manly, Sydney and paddles with the Queenscliff Surf Club when he isn't broking futures with the Macquarie Bank.

He represented Australia in K2 & K4 in 2005.

Lewis Laughlin

Lewis Laughlin 2007
Lewis Laughlin at the Hong Kong Dragon Run 2007 (Pic: Graham Uden)

Lewis's specialty is long distance (he told me in Dubai that his preference is for races longer than 35km) and he saw a long cherished dream come true in 2007 when he won the Molokai Challenge in hot, flat conditions overtaking Dawid Mocke in the last 5km and fighting off a challenge from Hank McGregor.

Lewis is currently ranked 3rd in the World this season behind Dawid Mocke and Oscar Chalupsky having done four of the races: US Champs (1st); Perth (10th); Hong Kong Dragon Run (2nd) and Dubai (8th).

Ian Gray

Ian Gray 2007
Ian Gray at the Culebra Challenge (pic: Harry Negron)

South African Ian Gray will be racing the King of the Harbour for the first time, fresh from his win at the Culebra Challenge in Puerto Rico.  Ian is touring the world, attending the World Series events - he's just spent time in Tahiti where he'd planned to race.  (Unfortunately the Tahiti race had to be cancelled due to political problems.)

Ian's win in Puerto Rico catapulted him into seventh spot in the World Rankings - it's going to be interesting to see how he fares in Auckland.

New Zealand Contenders

Simon McLarin and Paul Wilford went head to head in the recent NZ Surfski Champs - finishing 2 seconds apart (Simon won).

Mike Walker has been training for the Beijing Olympics and should be on form - he's won the King of the Harbour several times in the past but was beaten by Dawid Mocke the last few times they met.  Last year Mike lead the race out to Rangitoto Island, only being overtaken by Dawid as they turned downwind.  Will home waters favor Mike?

Mike Walker
Mike Walker - 2nd in 2007 (Pic:

Katie Pocock

Katie Pocock has won the event for the last couple of years - she's way out front of the women's rankings and there doesn't seem to be anyone else in the world right now who can offer her any competition.

"I know that there will be some more depth in the women's field once the Olympics have finished in August," she said in a recent interview. "I am looking forward to some tough battles with the likes of Nikki Mocke later in the year."  (She beat Nikki Mocke the last time they met in Auckland - Nikki is par t of the South African K4 team and "can't wait" to get back into surf ski paddling.)

"But I started off 2008 ranked number one," Katie added, "and I intend to be in the same spot come Christmas!"

Katie Pocock 2007
Katie Pocock - no competition (Pic:

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