Surf Ski Worlds awarded to Takapuna

In a major coup for the sport of surf ski racing in New Zealand, Canoe Racing NZ in partnership with Takapuna Boating Club in Auckland has been awarded the right to host the 2022 World Surf Ski Championships.

The International Canoe Federation awarded New Zealand the prestigious annual event, which is expected to attract more than 500 paddlers from 30 countries, following a board meeting in Barcelona.

The World Surf Ski Championships (also known as the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships) will form the centrepiece of a week-long festival of ocean paddle racing from Takapuna Beach on the stunning Hauraki Gulf in what is hoped will act as a huge boost to the sport in New Zealand.

Canoe Racing NZ CEO Tom Ashley said: “We are stoked to have earned the opportunity to host the ICF World Ocean Racing Championship in 2022. We are confident that we will put on a fantastic event in partnership with the Takapuna Boating Club, and we look forward to hosting paddlers from around the world and show off the beautiful paddling waters that New Zealand has to offer.

“The World Championships will give our surf ski athletes the chance to perform on home waters. But we are especially excited to leverage the 2022 World Champs to build participation and engagement in our sport within New Zealand. The World Championship will take place as part of a week-long festival of paddling, with a number of racing and participation opportunities for paddlers of all levels.”

New Zealand is a leading global force in surf ski racing. In 2015 Teneale Hatton was crowned open women’s champion and at last year’s edition in France, Teneale earned bronze with her fellow Kiwi Danielle McKenzie taking open women’s gold. Rachel Clarke is also a former World Championships bronze medallist.

Danielle McKenzie the 2019 open women’s surf ski world champion, said: “I always love competing internationally for New Zealand but to have the opportunity to race at a World Surf Ski Championships in Takapuna will be very special. Hailing from Auckland’s North Shore, I know these waters very well and it is very exciting that the Hauraki Gulf will be showcased to the rest of the world.”

Teneale, who has 18 years’ experience paddling in the Hauraki Gulf, said: “The decision to award Takapuna the World Surf Ski Championships is very exciting for the sport, and a huge step forward for surf ski racing on this side of the world.

“It is a such a cool coastline and paddling past a volcano makes it so different to anywhere else in the world. The international paddlers will love racing in Takapuna. It can be calm but it can also get wild and super fun with the bonus of a beautiful outlook.”

The event, which will be held in November 2022, will be based out of Takapuna Boating Club with two proposed courses – dependent on race day conditions – guaranteed to challenge the world’s best surf ski races.

These include the 21km north to south course from Shakespear Regional Park to Takapuna (or vice-versa) and the 22km east-west course from Home Bay on Motutapu to Takapuna or vice-versa.

Takapuna Boating Club Event Manager Danika Mowlem said: “Takapuna Boating Club is excited to welcome the world’s top surf ski paddlers to Takapuna and showcase our amazing paddling waters and how we produce some of the best surf ski paddlers in the world. No doubt we will have the support of the entire paddling community to make the most of this exciting opportunity and hopefully grow interest and participation in ocean racing.”

Hayley-Jo Nixon of South Africa, the 2017 open women’s surf ski world champion, who commentated on the 2019 Vaikobi King and Queen of the Harbour at Takapuna, said: “It is fantastic news that Takapuna has just been awarded the 2022 Surf Ski World Champs. I know what an incredible venue the Takapuna Club is and what an awesome experience it was staying on the North Shore of Auckland and paddling that stretch of water.

“New Zealand has nurtured phenomenal women’s ski paddlers and top class men too, and also boasts a world-class group of sprint racers, so I have no doubt they will showcase an incredible world champs.”

Events will be held in junior/U23/open and masters age-divisions.

The next edition of the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships is scheduled to take place in Portugal from September 3-6.

Image: Danielle McKenzie competing at the 2019 World Surf Ski Championships