King of the Harbour - Race Report

Wednesday, 02 April 2008 17:21 | Written by  Kirsty Elmiger/Ian Gray
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Some of the world's best surfski paddlers descended upon Auckland's North Shore this weekend for the 2008 King of the Harbour Surfski World Series Ocean paddling race on Saturday 29th March.

King of the Harbour 2008: Rangitoto Island
Rangitoto Island (Pic: Kirsty Elmiger)

Most Competitive Field 

With the event attracting 17 international paddlers, this year's field was the most competitive assembled to date. International paddlers arrived from countries as far a field as Spain, France, Hungary and South Africa, along with a strong contingent from Tahiti and Australia, to compete in what proved to be a fantastic day's ocean racing on the Hauraki Gulf.

Paddlers began to gather at the Wakatere Boating Club at Narrowneck Beach from 9am to prepare for the 28km paddle around Rangitoto Island. The course was announced at the race briefing on the day by race director Kirsty Elmiger and Course Judge Ian Ferguson, taking into consideration the prevailing weather conditions on the day. The race course was to take an anti-clockwise direction around Rangitoto Island on the incoming tide so as to time the high tide at the island transition between Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands, and to take advantage of the prevailing 10-15knot Northerly wind that would make for a great downwind stretch over the final 10km of the race back to the finish on Narrowneck Beach.

Warm up 

Activity started to mount on Narrowneck Beach as around 60 paddlers took to the water around 11.15am for a warm up, along with a couple of media and support boats and Surf Lifesaving New Zealand's event services team of 6 IRB rescue crews and land based team leader. Weather conditions were ideal with a steady swell developing across the channel and a perfect Northerly wind picking up for some superb downwind paddling on the homeward stretch. Along with some of the worlds best surfski ocean racing paddlers, the event attracted about 5 sea kayakers for the first time taking on the challenge of either the full 28km long course, or the newly introduced 8km short course for recreational paddlers.

Self seeding

Paddlers self-seeded themselves with sportsmanship-like finesse out on the water and lined up between two Fergs Kayaks buoys about 50 yards offshore shortly before midday. Course judge Ian Ferguson couldn't have been a more qualified race starter as he lined up a perfect water start with ease. With a start line including Surfski World series women's number one Katie Pocock, World Series number two Lewis Laughlin from Tahiti, World Series no 5 Ian Gray from South Africa, World Series no 9 Tim Jacobs from Australia, along with Beijing bound flat-water sprint kayaker Mike Walker, things were set for an electric start. Just before midday and they were off!

Leading pack 

A group of eight paddlers surged together at the start, with New Zealand's  Mike Walker and Australia's Jeremy Cotter leading the charge. They were followed by fellow Aussies Caine Eckstein and Tim Jacobs, along with South Africa's world series number 5 Ian Gray and current world series number 2 , Tahitian legend Lewis Laughlin. The leading pack then began to disperse somewhat over the 10km leg across the channel charging hard into the wind with a slight side chop. The paddlers then worked their way around the city side of Rangitoto toward the island transition between Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands. The lead group reached the transition faster than anticipated and the tide had not yet drawn in sufficient water to enable paddlers to get through without the resulting unexpected 300m portage. Mike Walker, Jeremy Cotter, Tim Jacobs and Caine Eckstein were first at the transition and wasted no time getting out their boats and scrambling across the short portage at impressive speeds, boat on shoulder and paddles in hand. In retrospect even the top ranked paddlers were in no way troubled by the short portage, much to the race directors relief, as they later told the race director that it was in fact a welcome opportunity to stretch their legs before commencing the last challenging paddle home.

Front group out of reach 

Nearing the transition, South Africa's Ian Gray drew up alongside Tahitian paddling legend Lewis Laughlin, who looked very composed as he prepared to make up some ground on the leading pack of sprinters ahead. This was not to be however, as by the time the two paddlers put back onto the water at the other side of the portage, the group of 4 Aussies and 1 Kiwi were just too far out of reach.

On the outside of the transition and short portage, the race course took a final straight back into the wind up to two small islands just out to the right of the small channel between the two islands, before turning almost 180 degrees into the last downwind leg. A channel no more than 3 metres wide with a shallow rocky ledge beneath made for a careful navigation section.

Downwind to the finish

Closely knitted swell made for a quick change of pace at the turn as paddlers took off with lighting speed with at least a 15knot wind behind them, picking up some much appreciated downwind gusts as they rounded the lighthouse on the final stretch of water across the channel back to the finish line. Tim Jacobs, Jeremy Cotter, Caine Eckstein and Mike Walker had opened up a descent lead from the remainder of the race as they tore into each other with the downwind runs. It wasn't long before Tim Jacobs had established a comfortable lead with his wealth of experience in surf riding and it quickly became an all out Australian domination to the end as New Zealander Mike Walker battled to keep up with the trans-Tasman tri-factor leading the elite pack home. Mike put on his best pace to maintain his position at 4th place right to the finish line back at Narrowneck Beach. Aussie Tim Jacobs took out the title of King of the Harbour in the time of 1:59:59, closely followed by fellow Aussie Caine Eckstein 2:01:04, with Aussie Jeremy Cotter comfortably taking 3rd place in 2:02:02. New Zealand's Katie Pocock took the women's title in a time of 2:22:53 followed by fellow New Zealanders Tracy Wilson 2:38:17 and Dene Simpson in 2:41:40.

KoH Logo


 

Videos

Click here for video clips courtesy of www.sportzhub.com

Video clip: Post Race Interviews

King of the Harbour - 29th March 2008

28km Surfski World Series Results

 

Place

Name

Country

Time

Category

Ave Speed

1

Tim Jacobs

AUS

01:59:59

OPEN MEN

13.60

2

Caine Eckstein

AUS

02:01:04

OPEN MEN

13.48

3

Jeremy Cotter

AUS

02:02:02

OPEN MEN

13.37

4

Mike Walker

NZ

02:03:15

OPEN MEN

13.24

5

Nick Holt

AUS

02:03:33

OPEN MEN

13.21

6

Lewis Laughlin

TAH

02:04:42

OPEN MEN

13.09

7

Simon Mclarin

NZ

02:07:47

MASTERS MEN

12.77

8

Ian Gray

RSA

02:09:14

OPEN MEN

12.63

9

Paul Wilford

NZ

02:09:44

MASTERS MEN

12.58

10

Eric Deane

TAH

02:10:45

OPEN MEN

12.48

11

Rob Nicol

NZ

02:12:15

MASTERS MEN

12.34

12

Garren Cooper

NZ

02:12:18

MASTERS MEN

12.34

13

Tim Grammer

NZ

02:13:18

MASTERS MEN

12.24

14

Simon Greenwood

NZ

02:14:39

MASTERS MEN

12.12

15

Leopold Tepa

TAH

02:14:39

OPEN MEN

12.12

16

Robbie Ford

NZ

02:15:09

OPEN MEN

12.08

17

Teva Mooria

TAH

02:16:07

OPEN MEN

11.99

18

Tamas Pinter

NZ

02:17:02

OPEN MEN

11.91

19

Heinere Itchner

TAH

02:17:33

OPEN MEN

11.86

20

Gilles Guedikian

TAH

02:18:29

MASTERS MEN

11.78

21

Brendon Davey

NZ

02:18:54

OPEN MEN

11.75

22

Sene Gaetan

FRA

02:20:05

OPEN MEN

11.65

23

Gavin Elmiger

NZ

02:22:35

OPEN MEN

11.45

24

Katie Pocock

NZ

02:22:53

OPEN WOMEN

11.42

25

Jeremy Kuggeleijn

NZ

02:25:13

OPEN MEN

11.24

26

Bill Barff

TAH

02:25:33

MASTERS MEN

11.21

27

David Gunn

NZ

02:29:14

MASTERS MEN

10.94

28

Richard Eadie

AUS

02:30:14

MASTERS MEN

10.86

29

Rua Ivan Cole

NZ

02:30:51

OPEN MEN

10.82

30

Sven Hansen

NZ

02:31:01

MASTERS MEN

10.81

31

Filmin Temaiana

TAH

02:31:04

MASTERS MEN

10.80

32

Paul Gillard

NZ

02:31:09

MASTERS MEN

10.80

33

Rob Kaiwai

NZ

02:31:57

MASTERS MEN

10.74

34

Tom Jacka

NZ

02:32:12

JUNIOR MEN

10.72

35

Dave Chambers

NZ

02:32:59

MASTERS MEN

10.67

36

Damian Munro

NZ

02:34:42

OPEN MEN

10.55

37

Rob Neilson

NZ

02:35:57

MASTERS MEN

10.46

38

Sam Newlands

NZ

02:37:45

JUNIOR MEN

10.35

39

Tracy Wilson

NZ

02:38:17

MASTERS WOMEN

10.31

40

Craig Mcleod

NZ

02:39:25

OPEN MEN

10.24

41

John Sullivan

NZ

02:39:50

MASTERS MEN

10.21

42

Dene Simpson

NZ

02:41:40

MASTERS WOMEN

10.09

43

Andrew Czar

NZ

02:44:09

MASTERS MEN

9.94

44

Mark Van Den Anker

NZ

02:47:32

MASTERS MEN

9.74

45

Greg Allen

NZ

02:49:34

MASTERS MEN

9.62

46

David Loughlin

NZ

02:50:30

MASTERS MEN

9.57

47

Chris Piggott

NZ

02:52:36

MASTERS MEN

9.46

48

Duncan Buchanan

NZ

02:54:50

JUNIOR MEN

9.33

49

Carlos Pereda Gomez

SPA

02:56:40

MASTERS MEN

9.24

50

John Land

NZ

02:59:23

MASTERS MEN

9.10

51

Pierre Chemaly

NZ

03:02:03

MASTERS MEN

8.96

52

Rob Aitken

NZ

03:10:41

OPEN MEN

8.56

53

Ryan Castle

NZ

03:10:42

OPEN MEN

8.56

 

 

 

King of the Harbour - 29th March 2008

28km Long Course Sea Kayak Results

 

1

LAWRENCE JOHNSON

NEW ZEALAND

3:25:32

MASTERS MEN

2

BEN DARBY

NEW ZEALAND

3:27:58

OPEN MEN

 

King of the Harbour - 29th March 2008

8km Short Course Sea Kayak Results

 

1

JOHN SANDERSON

NEW ZEALAND

1:00:37

MASTERS MEN

2

HUBERT STRANG

NEW ZEALAND

1:04:21

MASTERS MEN

3

JAMES HAWKINS

NEW ZEALAND

1:10:51

MASTERS MEN

 

King of the Harbour is an event organised by event director Kirsty Elmiger through the Takapuna Boating Club, based at Takapuna, North Shore City. King of the Harbour was made possibly through a number of generous funding bodies and sponsors including New Zealand Community Trust, Pub Charity, Lion Foundation, Takapuna Boating Club, Fergs Kayaks, Pacific Optics and New Zealand Endurance Magazine. For a full list of sponsors, photos and information please visit http://www.kingoftheharbour.co.nz/

Story by race director Kirsty Elmiger & South African paddler Ian Gray

For images please contact Steve Knowles at http://www.sportzhub.com/ or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 


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