Poor Knights Crossing returns to kick off Darcy Price NZ Ocean Racing Series

There is only month to go until the 2022 Poor Knights Crossing, and after being severely impacted by COVID-19 for the last 2 years, the event is making a flying comeback.

This special event is scheduled for 3rd September and will see entrants cross the open ocean either to or from the Poor Knights Islands off Northland’s Tutukaka Coast.

It is a must-do event for all downwind paddlers and is the first race of the 2022/23 Darcy Price NZ Ocean Racing series.

The marine reserve, a pending World Heritage site, is a group of ancient volcanoes 23km offshore which have been hollowed and shaped by the ocean into a web of caves, tunnels and cliffs and are renowned for its biodiversity and as one of the best dive sites in the world.

But it is the journey to or from the islands (depending on wind direction) that gets the juices flowing for paddlers, who will be hoping for great downwind conditions to help them along the 30km crossing.

However, the fun is not just limited to waka ama and ocean ski paddlers, and the addition of a wing foiling category will give new edge to this year’s race.

As an experiment to gauge the logistical challenges of including wing foil competitors, 15 foil board enthusiasts have been invited to attend, and will race the downwind course alongside the ocean ski and waka ama paddlers.

It is looming as the first time wing foilers have competed alongside their ocean paddling whanau and could be a world first for an ocean crossing competitive event, race director Tim Eves said.

“I’m not sure if I’m confident enough to proclaim world first status and shout it from the rooftops just yet, but maybe if I just whisper it and see if anyone disagrees,” Eves said.

“I certainly haven’t heard of any other open ocean racing events that include wing foilers. I know the foiling craze is getting quite big now though and I also know the conditions they favour are very similar to what ocean paddlers desire, so, what could possibly go wrong,” he said.

“Possibly quite a few things could go wrong actually, but we will have a bit of fun finding out I’m sure.”

Now in its ninth year, the Poor Knights Crossing event yet again pulls alongside their major sponsors and supporters Dive! Tutukaka, who provide the ferry fleet and the bulk of the safety fleet needed to stage the race.

This year the race has also gained financial support from Northland Inc, Moana Nui Canoes and The Watertight Company, which underscores the desire to keep this event locally based and supported as all businesses aligned with the race are based in Te Tai Tokerau Northland.

COVID-19 restrictions meant the race was cancelled last year, and numbers limited in 2020, so organisers are hoping for a full-strength event this year.

“Not counting our wing foiling invitees, the field is already almost half full of the 100 person capacity, and with just a month until race day, it might be time to commit if you’re thinking about racing.”