The Auckland King & Queen of the Harbour this Saturday 6th May is the 8th and final race in the 2022 Darcy Price NZ Ocean Ski series. Excitement is building as the points between the leading paddlers in the Open Mens division mean the top spot on the podium is in no way decided. It all comes down to the results from this weekend, which is shaping up to be a humdinger.
Mouth-watering racing expected this weekend
After 3 years of covid-disrupted events and travel challenges we have, for the first time in a long time, almost all of the country’s top male ocean ski paddlers lining up. Ben Keys from Christchurch is seeking to retain his title for a third consecutive year, two time King of the Harbour Andrew Mowlem has returned home to see how he stacks up, South-African import Gene Prato will be looking to challenge in his first King of the Harbour, Tim Waller will be looking to secure his DP Series lead, and in these conditions, you can never count out Garth Spencer.
Other top challengers include Toby Brooke and Liam Lace. It will almost definitely be one for the downwind specialists, but who will come out on top remains to be seen.
In the women’s open race, Rachel Mayhew will be seeking her 11th Queen of the Harbour crown. Carly Keys and Tara Smith will be hoping to stop her. Danika Mowlem is unfortunately unable to race as she will be on race director duties.
The mens waka-ama field is also shaping up to be a strong one, with many of the top paddlers coming along as training for their World Champs in August. Look out for Tupuria King, Narada Bury, Manatea Million and Kasey Ngataki to name just a few.
With close to 160 paddlers currently set to line up, it is going to be one of the larger ocean racing events NZ has seen.
Everything Left to Play For in Open Men’s Darcy Price Series
The current top 3 Open Men’s points standings are:
1st – Tim Waller, 1,198 points
2nd – Garth Spencer, 1,190 points
3rd – Ben Keys, 1,173 points
Tim Waller is currently leading after strong and consistent performances all summer, not finishing worse the 4th in any major event. Garth Spencer has delivered a series of second place podium finishes at the Poor Knights Crossings, King & Queen of the Harbour (Nelson) and Paddler Virtual Champs, to put him right in the mix for the series win. Ben Keys has 3 race wins and will be looking for his 4th to gain back the series title he lost last year.
With 8 points between Tim and Garth and 17 between Garth and Ben, the points up for grabs in this final Darcy Price series race make this one of the most exciting series finishes we’ve seen in a couple of seasons.
In the women’s division Danika Mowlem has already sealed her Darcy Price series win for the third year in a row. Tara Smith and Carly Keys have also secured their series podium places, in 2nd and 3rd consecutively.
There will be many races within the race, as the ski paddlers fight it out for age group places in the 22/23 series.
See Darcy Price series results with one race to go
King of The Harbour is Shaping Up to be a Downwind Dream
The long course for Saturday’s race will be Shakespear Regional Park to Takapuna Boating Club (22-23km). Starting off of Te Hurihi Bay on the tip of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, paddlers will paddle east for 3km then turn to have a direct line down to Takapuna Beach. In open exposed water, with a strong nor-easter and wind against tide jacking up the waves, this will be an exciting and technical ocean paddle with plenty of Yahoo potential.
If the forecast holds true, this will be a challenging course for many paddlers as there will be a side-on element to the wind and waves. But for those paddlers with the relevant skills and experience, it will be awesome!
Say ‘Ia Orana’ to the Tahitian Contingent at Auckland King & Queen of the Harbour. Plus the Overall Winner Wins a Trip to Tahiti!
It’s exciting to have international paddlers back for this year’s race after 3 years of covid restrictions, in particular, friends from Tahiti FPKS – Fédération Polynésienne de Kayak Surfski. There is a crew of 8 paddlers visiting, thanks to Air Tahiti Nui who have assisted with flights, and Fenn Kayaks NZ for providing ocean skis.
Moving forward King & Queen of the Harbour hope to form a partnership and possibly an Oceania series between their event and the Te Aito Events in Tahiti, which has traditionally been a Waka event but now includes ocean skis. The 2023 Te Aito Tahiti is coming up from 2-11 June, with two ski races in Moorea and Papeari over 2 weekends.
The overall winner of the Auckland King & Queen of the Harbour also wins free flights and race entry into the 2023 Te Aito Tahiti. So while it might be raining this Saturday, sunshine is on the horizon for one lucky paddler.
Learn more about the Te Aito race by visiting https://teaitoevents.com/ for all the details.
Follow along for race updates on Saturday’s Auckland King & Queen of the Harbour on Facebook or Instagram. There will be live tracking on race day. Race starts from 11.15am.