It’s going to be a busy November for reigning King of the Harbour Andrew Mowlem, who will be back in Auckland later this month to defend his crown.
“I’ve got a very full schedule this month! I’ll be in Perth for two weekends with West Coast Downwinder and The Doctor, as well as a few races during the week as part of a Shaw & Partners sponsored series.” said the 33-year-old.
“I’m then heading back to Auckland for the King and Queen of the Harbour, and straight on to Sydney the next weekend for 20 Beaches”.
While most of us get tired just hearing about it, Andrew is stoked to be regularly back paddling again after a wrist injury hampered his training and forced him to withdraw from the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships in September.
“I’m really looking forward to it and have been able to get in a solid training block lately after being a bit restricted over the winter. The Australian series looks to have attracted a world class field, including a number of surf ironman and kayak athletes – the standard of racing is going to be so high.”
World-class paddling has become the norm for Andrew, who relocated to Perth a year ago, a move he credits for developing his paddling even further.
“It’s been a really enjoyable change. I feel like my surfing skills have improved significantly. With the consistency of the wind coming through most days over the summer it has meant more opportunities to do downwinds with really fast paddlers. I’ve found it’s often quite technical conditions, constantly picking lines through to hold speed. I’ve learnt a lot, but there’s still plenty to improve on! There’s been some great marathon amd river paddling too, so I am getting lots of variety.”
Hearing this might dishearten some Kiwi paddlers who have already got used to watching Andrew disappear into the distance; his dominance was highlighted by his three-and-a-half-minute victory at the March edition of the 2019 King and Queen of the Harbour.
But it’s not all sunshine and downwinds. Andrew works full- time as a mechanical engineer, regularly commuting between Auckland and Western Australia and he still manages to find time to chair the Canoe Racing New Zealand Distance Paddling Committee. So why does he think it is important to be involved in this side of the sport?
“I am passionate about paddling, love the ocean conditions, training and racing aspects,” he adds. “I’m really keen to see the sport as a whole grow. There are some great initiatives coming through at participation level from CRNZ, and some amazing NZ athletes; so of course I was interested in being involved in developing the Ocean Surfski & Marathon side.”
Still a fairly new committee, the DPC already have some great plans and strategies in motion. The Darcy Price NZ Ocean Racing Series is one of these initiatives, aiming to increase awareness and participation in some of New Zealand’s best surfski races, particularly amongst the younger paddlers. “We are looking to emulate countries like Australia and South Africa where paddlers are competing in surf, kayak and ski, and they complement each other by phasing their seasons to suit. This has led to huge participation numbers and great success on the world stage.”
Success is what Andrew is hoping to taste over the coming weeks, particularly back on his home turf as he chases a third Auckland King of the Harbour title.
Words: Danika Mowlem