2023/24 Darcy Price Series- Update after 4 races

Over halfway through the Darcy Price NZ Ocean Racing series and gale force winds have been the main headline of the season, forcing cancellation of two series races and alternate courses required on two others. But the racing that has occurred has been tight and exhilarating and there is everything still to play for with plenty of points up for grabs in the final two races remaining in the season.

The mens series race is heating up and we have a feeling it will come down to the final race of the summer. Gene Prato has taken the lead of the back of two wins and a 2nd place, followed by Garth Spencer in 2nd and Reid Forrest in 3rd. But waiting to make his move up the leaderboard is two-time series winner Ben Keys, currently in 7th place. Ben has two race wins under his belt this summer but needs to complete one more race to be in the overall series hunt.

In the womens field, defending series champion Danika Mowlem is tied on points with Katrina Madill, both having had a win and a 2nd place so far this summer. Masters paddler Shirley Erwee is in 3rd place.

Due to multiple event cancelations, a competitor’s series points in this season’s Darcy Price series will now be the total of their best THREE race points (previously it was the total of the best of four races).

Previous results show that this series rewards consistency and showing up to races. There are two exciting ocean ski races left in this summer- The Heads to Harbour in Whakatane and the Auckland King and Queen of the Harbour

Here is a recap of series races so far:

Tawhiti Rahi Coastal Challenge- 2nd September
Feisty conditions off the Northland coast led to race organiser Tim Eves making the wise decision to run an inner Whangarei harbour course. The wind against tide provided some great surfing conditions although the strength of the outgoing tide certainly took some paddlers by surprise. Aucklanders Gene Prato and Garth Spencer went at it from the moment the start flag dropped and it wasn’t until the final stretch that Prato squeezed out an impressive winning margin when he crossed the finish line 22km later. Danny Morrison nabbed third just ahead of his training buddy Travis Mitchell, while Jess McDuff grabbed maximum points in the women’s race.

Paddler Virtual Champs – 1st – 31st January
The month-long virtual champs, where participants must paddle 12km starting and finishing at the same spot, always produces some staggering times and fascinating strategies and this year was no different. The male and female records were smashed this year, by Ben Keys pulling off a 48min 54sec effort, and Katrina Madill stunning the womens race with a 51.26. Both opted for small circles as a racecourse, with Katrina utilising tidal currents while Ben made the most of sea swells. Mike Walker took 2nd place overall with Australian Trent Martin in third. Nelson pair Dan Bremner and Claire Sykes took the double ski win.

James Moore-morial Race – 3rd February
The weather forecast made an alternative course necessary, so two 12km inner harbour races were run down Tauranga Harbour. The result was exciting and close racing, thrilling downwind conditions and lots of happy paddlers. Cumulative times determined overall results and Gene Prato came out on top after winning both races. King of consistency Garth Spencer was 2nd and Mike Walker finished 3rd. Danika Mowlem took home the womens race with two race wins.

Queen and King of the Bay- 17th February
In light following winds, the mens race took off fast from the golden sand of Kaiteriteri beach towards Mapua Harbour. Ben Keys, Gene Prato and Toby Brooke established an early break from the main field. Keys and Prato then pulled away before Ben made his move, crossing the line just under a 1minute ahead to win this race for the third year in a row. Carly Keys was dominant in the womens race to take home the trophy, with race organiser Nathan Fa’avae and Sophie Hart securing the double ski victory.

Check out the Live Leaderboard for current series standings and points.

There are 2 races left in the 2023/24 Darcy Price Series– enter now to wrap up the summer the right way.

Heads to Harbour, Whakatane – Saturday 9th March 2024

Auckland King & Queen of the Harbour Auckland -Saturday 11th May 2024