Garth Spencer

Saturday, 03 October 2015 14:50 | Written by

“Teneale Hatton from NZ is 20 seconds behind Michelle Eray, with 4 kms to go, with NZ’s Rachel Clarke taking the outside line and now in 3rd place!” The Tahitian live TV coverage of the Woman’s long distance surfski event of the 2nd International Canoe Federations World Ocean Racing Championships is second to none.

Saturday, 14 June 2014 10:16 | Written by

Poor Knights Island - the site of the infamous 1820 Maori massacre, where the Hikitu people attacked, killed or enslaved all but 10 of the local Ngatiwhai hapu island inhabitants, in retribution for refusing them permission to land their wakas, or canoes, 12 years earlier after paddling 320 km's around the top of New Zealand's North Island, to purchase some pigs. According to local missionary, King, the Hikitu warriors, taking advantage of the fact that most of the island's men were away fighting down south, ”fed like vultures on the dead and returned home laden with slaves and the flesh of men”. Sound like an auspicious start line for one hell of an inaugural surfski-race? You betchya!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014 09:18 | Written by

"One should never have affairs with other boats - it can really mess with one's head, especially in the build up to a big race!" Dawid Mocke's wise words last week, following his successful 2014 New Zealand King Of The Harbour campaign, after trying the latest offerings from FLOW Kayaks in New Zealand. 


All of us know the feeling of paddling our hearts out in a race, but much fewer of us probably know the feeling of being able to truly draw deeply from that well of confidence, in knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the boat under our very backside is THE fastest boat on the water, for us, for these conditions.

This is a powerful differentiator at the top end of the field, and the psychological advantage proffered probably far exceeds the empirical, physical advantages. Well, it's no secret I have really enjoyed FLOW's original Sharpski, but lately I must admit, like many of you I expect, I have been flirting with a newer model, and it may make an Addict of me yet.

The 'Addict' in all of us!

It is amazing how attached us humans become to inanimate objects: Our phones, our cars, our surfskis...  With the fervour of a schoolkid with a new hobby, we spend hours and hours googling videos and images of surfskis, reviews, discussion posts, grainy Go-Pro footage of dodgy downwinds, completely ignoring our loved ones, who patiently humour us as we spend fruitless hours on surfski orientated Facebook pages and websites (just like you and I are doing now, right?)

All of us are seeking that extra edge, that little tip that will tweak or refine our technique, or our boat set up, to eke out another 0.0012 km/h boat speed. We treat our boat selection the same way. And so we should! Nobody enjoys paddling a boat they know is slower. It is like, well, an addiction! I am sure Richard and Andrew had this in mind when they chose the name!


 The rocker of a rocket: (Addict-Right, Sharpski-Left) The reduced rocker of the Addict is clearly visible when aligned with its predecessor, the Sharpski.


Richard Usher, iconic New Zealand paddler/multisportsman-extraordinaire, and the Businessman behind FLOW Kayaks, and Andrew Martin, FLOW's master-kraftsman certainly had a very clear idea about what they wanted from this boat.

The Addict is 6.4m in length, 43 cm wide and has approx 19mm less rocker than the Sharpski. The volume behind the seat is fairly significantly wider than the Sharpski (and probably most elite boats I have seen) and a number of other enhancements make for a very serious paddling setup for the paddler.

Weighing in around 12.5 for the standard lay-up, the proven Andrew Martin Carbon/Kevlar is ruthlessly tough, and what one would expect when the same layup is used on their riverboats. Drop it, or forget it's on your cars roof, and drive into the garage, and you'll see. (I have experience in both departments I am afraid to admit! Although to be fair it was my wife driving my car that day.)

The latter is a rather extreme example, and in this case the damage was somewhat significant: Bloody landlord made me repair/paint the damaged wooden beam in the garage. Oh, the boat was fine. The seams are tough, and the care with the finish is immaculate, as you would expect from the boutique, hand-crafted-with-love-in-the-FLOW-shed-in-little-old-Nelson-NZ manufacturer. Larger scale production of this boat is on the cards, and the FLOW team are working closely with local NZ potential manufacturers here.



 The FLOW Addict, attracting attention in Aus and NZ currently, about to commence trials in Auckland.

The Sharper End:

The most obvious change for me is the aggressive waterline, almost downward-angled nose shape, emphasising the boat's reduced rocker. You know that feeling I was describing earlier, when you know you have a faster boat in a race? Well in flatter conditions, like me, you might find yourself questioning this, if the nose of your ski is 1 meter proud of the water, and dry...

The Addict holds it's line beautifully in smaller chop, pitching less, sitting firmly wetted along its entire waterline length, even when accelerating over a wash/wave.



A serious nose-job: (Addict-Right, Sharpski-Left) The aggressive snitch provides for closer-to-K1 handling in smaller chop, with the boat holding it's line better, and pitching less. Again, I believe this adds to the boats surprising stability. The optional nose-loop was difficult to get used to in the beginning, but now I wouldn't have it any other way. Like me you might find yourself surprised how often you use this!  



The Middle Bits:


FLOW Kayaks have a particularly snug shaped seat, as mentioned in a number of reviews. You either love it or hate it. I reckon my butt is similar to Andrew's, so I fall into the former category here. The Addict has a slightly broader seat shape, and there is an XL cockpit for the fat-asses out there (you know who you are!) which also caters for the longer leg length paddler.

I am 190CM tall and paddle with the footplate a few notches back from max extension, but I must say I do miss the few CM's more space that I used to have behind the footplate on the Sharpski for my juice-bladder. Lets not forget the forward-placed cockpit on these boats, which I reckon is central to their awesome ability to drop down over runners. I think combined with the extra tail volume this is now a formidable offering.



The solid, well-engineered footplate and steering system is simply designed, does not pose any corrosion risk, and is easily adjusted. The new self-sealing bailer and the new fairings/cockpit lip on the upper deck are designed to keep the cockpit really dry, and even in the biggest chop this is remarkably effective.


The Blunter End:


The ass of this bad-ass boat is big: A bold design step that seems to differentiate this boat from many others - there is considerably more volume in the tail. When I first paddled this in some awesome large downwind conditions in Cyclone Lusi a few weeks back, it was immediately evident I needed to paddle the boat differently. I wasn't able to slide the tail around and zig-zag as aggressively/nimbly as I normally do when surfing my loyal Sharpski.

This was initially disconcerting, but have since discovered that the extra tail volume and reduced rocker combine nicely, leading to a more stable performance in the chop, aiding in paddling over waves, maintaining a more even keel and holding it's line better. The extra width in the tail is probably also the central factor in the boats significantly increased stability over the Sharpski. The fixing point for the unique optional oversteer rudder is clearly visible in the below pics, and serves the NZ estuarine/ocean-paddling race mix well.



I like big butts and I cannot lie! The additional volume in the tail (Addict-Left, Sharpski-Right) creates a surprisingly stable boat in the elite category of racing surfskis. 


Speed Trials:


So, you ask, what does all this mean? Is it faster? How much? yes, I have had the same questions, but how does one answer this? The funny thing about water is that it's, well, fluid. So many freakin' variables: Tide, wind, sea conditions, technique, effort applied etc. I mulled over this for some time. Understand, I have a boat I love (anyone with a Facebook account will tell you this!) so this is a very serious position to be in.

Eventually Dawid recommended a simple set of tests. "Set your heart rate to a constant BPM, not too high that you cant keep in constant, and not too low, say 145, and do multiple 1000m efforts on the GPS, in the same conditions in both boats. Simply compare the results."

So this I did. On three occasions. I adjusted my Garmin 310XT display to only show distance and HR. Then, chose a morning that was pretty flat, and at around low tide (to minimise any tidal currents) I performed four 1000M efforts, from standing start, keeping my HR between 137 and 143 in the Addict, and then repeated this again in the Sharpski. Then I repeated this exercise another 2 occasions, on different days, first in the Sharpski, and then in the Addict. Results were always similar:



Results of the speed-trials that tested the Addict against the Sharpski, show that on the surface the Addict is 0.09km/h faster, off a standing start, 1000m efforts, with a constant, purposefully moderate heart-rate. See full data attached to this article, and the conclusion below before seeking a warranty claim off FLOW Kayaks if you don't see this speed advantage immediately!


0.09km/h faster???


In this conditions, on a flat day, keeping a nice constant 140BPM of effort, for me, from standing start, it appears the Addict is 0.09km/h faster. This on the surface appears to be a significant speed advantage, and one that has more importantly I guess, been a great source of entertainment for my paddling mates at Royal Akarana Club over the last week or so. (Yes, I like to talk about surfski paddling. A lot!) The pre-race conversation at last weekend's Bo Herbert 30km race went as follows:

Jeremy K: "Garth, you reckon that Addict is faster than my Sharpski?"

Me: "Yip - speed trials telling me it is 0.092287645km/h faster in these conditions."

Jeremy: "Ah, so... if you had paddled this in the King of The Harbour last weekend you would have finished 3 places up?"

Me: "Yip! Another way of saying this mate: If we paddled at the same effort today, my race will effectively finish 207m shorter than yours!"

And so on. This is half the fun though. Right? Dodgy math being worked out by an oxygen starved, salt-addled brain, mid race... Love it!

However, closer inspection of my speed trial data shows that if I remove all samples between the start of my efforts, and the point where I have my HR at 137BPM (effectively removing any subjectivity associated with the rate of acceleration for my starts of these efforts) I find the two boats perform remarkably similarly. (In fact, the Sharpski came in at a slight speed advantage over the Addict, 0.012km/h faster). To me this seems to indicate that the Addict is quicker off the line, and quicker to accelerate. Which makes sense for a boat with less rocker. This is probably quite an important feature when surfing runs too. 




My conclusion would firstly be: stay well away from paddlers who claim their boat is 0.092287645km/h faster - they are probably talking crap! Find something you like, something that is fun to paddle, and something you can see yourself falling in love with.

Love your boat and be loyal to this. I think there is a lot to be said about getting to know a boat intimately, and someone who is absolutely at home in a boat that doesn't give them a sore arse, or test their stability too much, is probably not only going to be faster, but is also going to have more fun. The Addict is a wonderfully constructed boat, tough, beautiful, and remarkably stable for an 'elite' boat. Handles well in flat, and cuts beautifully through the chop, and surfing downwind appears to relish the runners.

Don't try surf it left and right as aggressively as on a Sharpski, or a FENN Elite for example, due to slightly less rocker. I love it, I have had heaps of fun performing these trials, and to quote Dawid's brief, scientific conclusion: "Jissie, thats a very lekker boat, China!" (and if you need a translation here, you'll have to attend one of his Mocke-Clinics!)










Monday, 31 March 2014 07:36 | Written by

Oily flat, steamy, hot conditions greeted the 95 competitors, lining up pensively off Birkenhead Wharf, Auckland. The tide would be turning nose-on shortly, and the 1 knot south westerly breezes would make it feel like we were paddling in a vaccum. The 24km stretch to Waiheke Island's Matiatia Bay was going to be one of my longer recorded times, ever, even though I paddle this stretch of water weekly! Dawid Mocke (current Worldseries no. 2) was hemmed in on the left, and Cory Hill (current Worldseries no. 3) and Mark 'Ando' Andersson were on the favoured extreme right, as the armada began the slow drifting across the imaginary start line anticipating Darcy Price's "Get set.... GO!"                

The Field

The premier surfski event of New Zealand is also the New Zealand Canoe Racing Ocean Ski Champs, this year attracting 18 international paddlers from Australia, Brazil, Germany, Russian Federation, South Africa. The ladies race was going to be a battle of tenacity, with Rachel Clark (last years Queen Of The Harbour) on form for Molokai, Teneale Hatton training hard but committed to the NZ ladies K4 team, 'Evergreen-Dene' Simpson, young up and coming star Rebecca Cole, Aussie Tracey Wilson, and Maria Plyashechko from the Melbourne-based Russian Federation all aiming for a spot on the podium.  With the SUP's and Double Ski's a few minutes ahead, the confused harbour waters were whipped to a frenzy as the swarm of ski paddlers charged towards the 1st upright stancheon of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, staying well right of the rusted metal and twisted concrete fouled waters on the left, where both Dawid and I had damaged our rudders in days leading into the race searching for a clear passage on a variety of tides.

King of the Harbour 2014

The flags on the iconic Auckland Harbour Bridge hang limp and lifeless, as the peleton squeeze the harbour chop for every little run or boat-wash, 4kms into New Zealand's premior surfski race.

Mocke, a former King Of The Harbour had done his homework, and favoured a left hand line heading past North Head. With the front-pack doing 16km/h pace in the infamous chop, he darted off to the left on some tiny, almost impercievable runners just before the navy base. Cory, Ando, 18 year old Kenny Rice (younger brother of Fish Hoek's 'Shaun the Prawn' Rice), myself, the two Tahitians, Leopold Tepa and Hiromana Flores, and local North Shore paddler Brendon 'Doon' Davies had to reform or chase. I saw Cory and Ando looking over their right shoulders at the stream of yachts and pleasure craft exiting the harbour over to the right, and they broke off, heading hard right to take advantage of this boatwash.

King of the Harbour 2014

Aucklands iconic Sky Tower stands sentinal over the confused waters of the inner harbour, as the front pack make their way past Devonport Naval Base. (Left to Right: Cory Hill taking the pull, Leopold Tepa, Dawid Mocke, Garth Spencer and Kenny Rice)

Reading the Ocean Currents

Dawid quickly put up a growing lead, but the Aussies Cory and Ando, working together with the aid of the last of the centre-channel currents, started to close up. Up ahead I saw Dawid looking over his shoulder from his extreme left hand course, closest to Rangitoto Island, with its textbook volcanic skyline, and make a set a direct course towards the centre of the channel.

"I was watching the speed dropping on my Garmin, and when this got below 13 km/h I knew I was out of the main current. I looked over my shoulder, saw Cory hunting me down, and I made a conscious course change to get back into the running current, the first of a few conscious course changes!".

King of the Harbour 2014

Dawid Mocke on the extreme left of the channel, framed by the volcanic crater of Rangitoto Island, realises he has lost the tidal-current advantage, as Cory Hill reaching hard starts to gain on him. It was at this point Dawid made a conscious decision to hit the right foot-pedal, and steer right to re-enter the main current.

The long, flat grind ensued through the Motuihe Channel, normally the hunting ground of the big ocean swell, driven into the Hauraki Gulf by the cyclonic summer north easterlies. this would take its toll on a number of paddlers, especially those favouring themselves on the downwind courses. Digging deep for all hidden reserves, and sucking feverishly on empty juice bladders for those last remaining drops, the scattered armada ground its way into the shelter of Matiatia inlet, on fair Waiheke Island. Dawid Mocke held onto his lead to finish comfortably in first place in a time of 1:42:04, almost 2 minutes ahead of Cory Hill, still a good 2 plus minutes ahead of Mark Anderson. Local boy Simon Longdil, fighting fit on his workup for Molokai, had an incredibly strong finish, peeling past most of the rest of the front runners, to finish fourth and first Kiwi paddler home, passing young Kenny Rice in the last few hundred meters, and fellow Royal Akarana clubmate Tim 'Rooster' Grammer just before this. Seventh and eighth place went to the Tahitians Hiromana Flores and Leopold Tepa who had worked well together for much of the hard grind, with ninth and tenth place going to myself and another Royal Akarana clubmate, Andy Mowlem.

The Course

The Auckland <-> Waiheke course is a regular downwind favourite for locals, with prevailing SW'lies over summer, with the odd NE'ly system bringing on some really thrilling downwind paddling. This King Of The Harbour race has seen its good years and bad year weather wise, but about half of the races have been flat. Its always going to be an honest race.

The wind simply doesnt blow as constantly as it does in Cape Town, and the relatively small landmass of Auckland and surrounds is simply too small to exert any great influence on the prevailing Pacific weather patterns. New Zealand has what is called a maritime climate. The weather is influenced by the sea, no place in the country is more than 130km's from the sea, and it can also be very transient.


King of the Harbour 2014

Dawid's Garmin trace, showing a few distinct course changes to stay in the favourable current, ultimately securing him the win.

King of the Harbour 2014

The final winners and grinners, including Dawid Mocke (centre left) and Rachel Clark (centr right), King and Queen of the Harbour for 2014.

Womens Race

In a perhaps unexpected twist, the womans race unfolded with the same top three result as last year. Rachel Clarke took out the womens race in fine form, securing the Queen Of the Harbour title. Silver went to young Becs Cole, and former Olympian and evergreen Dene Simpson took the bronze, with Teneale Hatton using the race as a training session, refusing to comprimise on her K4 team training the same morning. 

King of the Harbour and Canoe New Zealand Ocean Racing Championships

King of the Harbour 2014



Rachel Clarke1.54.48OWNZ
Rebecca Cole1.59.07OWNZ
Dene Smpson2.00.44OWNZ
Teneale Hatton2.02.07OWNZ
Tracy Wilson2.06.58OWAustralia
Maria Plyashenchko2.08.27OWRussian   Federation
Heidei Carlyle2.18.17OWAustralia
Jackie Dring2.23.39OWNZ



Dawid   Mocke1.42.04OMSouth Africa
Cory Hill1.43.56OMAustralia
Mark   Anderson1.46.42OMAustralia
Simon Longdill1.47.45OMNZ
Kenny Rice1.48.03OMSouth   Africa
Tim Grammer1.48.25MMNZ
Hiromana Flores1.48.37OMTahiti
Tepa Leopold1.48.39MMTahiti
Garth Spencer1.49.46MMNZ
Andrew Mowlem1.50.44OMNZ
Andrew Newick and Nickoli Gordon1.51.09DoubleNZ
Tim McLaren1.51.13OMNZ
Zac Franich1.51.59OMNZ
Oskar Stielau1.52.24MMNZ
Brendon Davey1.52.35MMNZ
Craig Jones1.53.21OMNZ
Samuel Clark1.53.30OMNZ
Grant Heim1.54.07VMNZ
Jeremy Kuggeleijn1.54.29OMNZ
Tamas Pinter1.54.40MMNZ
Gerry Callebaut1.54.43MMNZ
Ian Mercer1.56.06MMNZ
Chris Borchardt1.57.04MMNZ
Sven Hansen1.57.13VMNZ
Robert Askew1.57.28VMNZ
Sam Newlands1.58.15OMNZ
Robbie Ford1.58.20OMNZ
Bruce Dailey1.58.40MMUSA
Simon McLarin1.59.03VMNZ
Kim Harker1.59.13VMNZ
Lance Roozendaal1.59.20MMNZ
Rod Russell1.59.34MMNZ
Tapu King1.59.25OC1NZ
Sean Murphy1.59.52MMNZ
John Sokolich1.59.58VMNZ
Max Riley & partner.2.00.09DoubleAustralia
Mark Van Den Anker2.00.14VMNZ
Andrew Czar2.01.25MMNZ
Vaughan Reid2.02.11OMNZ
Graeme Edwards2.03.50MMNZ
Serge Kurov2.03.37OMRussian   Federation
Bruce Hamilton2.04.12MMNZ
Anton Reiman2.04.20OMNZ
Peter Dallimore2.05.17VMNZ
Thomas Cole2.05.40JuniorNZ
Roy Warren2.06.00MMNZ
Garth Civil2.07.11MMAustralia
John Barker2.07.26OMNZ
Cam Scott2.07.39MMNZ
Rich Baty2.07.51MMNZ
Craig McLeod2.08.40MMNZ
Reuben Hansen2.08.42OMNZ
Sam Mayhew2.09.26OMNZ
David Blackford2.10.53MMNZ
Jordan McLarin2.11.54JuniorNZ
Allan Davey2.12.29MMNZ
Warwick Smith2.12.52VMNZ
Allan Williscroft2.12.55VMNZ
Dave Chambers2.14.08VMNZ
Neil Carlyle2.14.17VMAustralia
Derek Stewart2.16.43VMNZ
Richard Baker2.17.25MMNZ
Pierre Chemaly & Doc Godfrey2.19.00DoubleNZ
Pat Langley2.19.12OMAustralia
Adrian Taylor2.23.40VMNZ
Tony Hillson2.24.49MMNZ
Martin Knocke2.24.59VMGermany
Michael Famularo2.35.45VMNZ









Wednesday, 05 March 2014 09:34 | Written by

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.

Race Details

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!







Sunday, 07 April 2013 12:28 | Written by

Ben Fouhy, showing great form, took out last Saturday's King of The Harbour in Auckland, in mild conditions. The confused harbour and weather conditions caused race director Terry Newsome some angst, the wind swinging from SE, to SW to back to SE again a few hours before the race start. He finally opted for the Waiheke back to Birkenhead course, and ultimately did well in securing a predominantly downwind course for the field of 67 ski paddlers plus Stand Up Paddle-boarders.                       

Tuesday, 19 March 2013 13:34 | Written by

The 12th King of the Harbour Ocean Ski Race will be based from Auckland’s waterfront in the heart of Auckland, 6 April 2013. Race Director Terry Newsome has promised a $8000 (NZD) prize-bucket, and free-of-charge glass FENN ocean-ski's for all international and South Island paddlers, attracting a contingent of overseas/international paddlers. If last weekend's conditions are anything to go by, this could be another exceptional downwind event - Cyclone Sandra's tailings left a 5m swell sneaking through the Colville Channel and a 40knot following NE tailwind. Will we see 2012 Jeremy Cotter's 1:25:42 record fall?

Overseas Contingent

With three of the Tahitian team staying at my place on Waiheke Island (including Sebastian Mosole, Race Director for the highly successful Mara'amu World Cup Surfski race in beautiful Bora-Bora), there's no secret to which course we are favouring! It's also no secret that someone is seeking retribution, for being forced (almost!) to eat the legendary fermented raw fish Tahitian delicacy 'fafaru' directly following an epic Pacific island crossing at last years race. I am not sure New Zealand has an equivalent, but I expect that some exposure to volcanic region of Rotorua's sulfurous/noxious fumes might be a good start.

The Tahitian connection is strong: most international flights to Tahiti fly via Auckland. Terry talks of future races aligning with the Mara'amu. There are bound to be a few good stories from this race - book your part in this now by entering this iconc event at the below link.

Course Options

One of Auckland's iconic Fullers ferries will be used to transport competitors and their skis to the start or from the finish for the King of the Harbour, as we have done in the past. 

"Not only does travelling by water add to the excitement and atmosphere of the race, it will also add a unique dimension to this race when compared to any other ocean ski events around the world as spectators will be able to see how the race unfolds aboard the Fullers Starflyte." declares Terry.

As wind direction is fundamental to a successful race, one of four courses will be selected to present the competitors with at least 80% down-wind paddling. The final course will be determined by the wind direction 24 hours prior to the race. Last years event saw a wicked little NE swell making for a blistering downwind run from Waiheke Island to Auckland's viaduct.

2012 winner Jeremy Cotter completed the 22km from Waiheke to Auckland in 1:25.42.

One of the following four courses will be selected to offer paddlers at least 80% downwind paddling:

King of the Harbour 2013

(Above) Gulf Harbour to Auckland or Auckland to Gulf Harbour (Distance 25km), favoured if a Westerly or Easterly prevailson race day.

King of the Harbour 2013 

(Above) Waiheke Island to Auckland or Auckland to Waiheke Island (Distance 19km) if winds are NE on the day, as seen in 2011 and 2012, or SW.

The prevailing SW provides a consistent wind chop from Auckland back to the island, and indeed my record time paddling this stretch of water is set at dusk on a pumping Sou' Westerly. However, there is nothing like the ocean swell that the NE brings into the Motiuhe Channel, and as paddlers depart from Matiatia ferry terminal on Waiheke, the rushing tide and ocean swell can make the first 13km's of this stretch world class in terms of downwind paddling.

 King of the Harbour 2013

Race Day Schedule


Scrutineering and late registrations and loading of boats


Fullers Ferry will leave for Waiheke or Gulf Harbour for the start


SUP race start, all course options: Auckland, Waiheke or Gulf Harbour                                       


Ocean ski start, all course options: Auckland, Waiheke or GulfHarbour


First paddlers expected from this time


Race officially over. Ferry will leave Waiheke or GulfHarbour for Auckland


Ferry docks at Auckland and unloads boats and passengers


Prize giving

Tuesday, 11 September 2012 11:47 | Written by

You’ve got 200m on Lewis (Laughlin)!” shouts race-organiser-extraordinaire Sebastien Mosole to Dean Gardiner, as the course doglegs north from the Turiroa lighthouse. The 20 knot tailwinds and 3m swell conditions that Dean revels in have served him well for the last 31km’s, but the race is his to lose as paddlers battle against this same wind for the final 8km’s entering the only ‘pass’ through Bora-Bora’s otherwise impassable reef.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012 12:52 | Written by

Race 12 of the 2012 Ocean Paddler World Series kicks off in just under 2 weeks time. Named after the southeasterly trade-wind that blows persistently over July/Aug/Sept dry season, the Mara’amu is a downwind course, designed to maximize the open ocean swell of the Pacific. This Mara’amu is promised to blast (or at any rate, blow) paddlers from the sheltered reefs of Tahaa island 38.1 km’s to the finish on Bora-Bora, easily the most famous and supposedly the most photographed island in the world.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012 14:14 | Written by

Jeremy Cotter and Clint Robinson went head-to-head at this weekend's Gatorade Battle of the Paddles, with Jeremy taking out the 25km  surfski race on Saturday, and Clint claiming Friday's 16km thriller.

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