The third round of the 2020-21 Darcy Price Series will hit the South Island this weekend as the Queen and King of the Bay takes place at sunny Tasman Bay.
Following the easing of the alert level restrictions, the decision was made that Saturday’s 26km event from Kaiteriteri Beach to Mapua Wharf would form part of the five-strong series of events.
The men’s event has attracted five former winners, led by defending champion and current Darcy Price Series leader Ben Keys (see above).
On recent form the Ocean Ski Canterbury paddler looks to be the paddler to beat. In December he claimed a well-deserved victory in the King and Queen of the Harbour in Auckland and two weeks ago placed second behind Tupu King at the Bhutty Moore-Morial race in Bay of Plenty, so expect Ben to have a major say this weekend.
Among his chief rivals will be Toby Brooke, the 2019 champion. The Wellington-based paddler is a consistent performer who currently sits second on the Darcy Price standings – just 28pts adrift of Ben on 421pts.
Other former champions entered include three-time former winner Haydn Lockie, Dan Busch, who was triumphant in the 2012 edition, and event organiser Nathan Fa’avae who reigned as King of the Bay from 2009 to 2011.
Leading the challengers in the women’s field is Samoa’s Olympic-bound padder Anne Cairns, who produced an eye-catching performance to place second at the Bhutty Moore event in the Bay of Plenty earlier this month. Blenheim’s Tara Smith is another who could challenge.
The two-day festival of paddling also features the South Island Surf Ski Championships, which takes place on Sunday on the 21km route from Cable Bay to Tahunanui Beach. North Islanders are eligible to also win the title and the majority of those entered for Saturday’s race are also expected to feature.
Event organiser Nathan Fa’aeve is relieved restrictions have lifted and the event can welcome paddlers from the Auckland region for the event – for what he hopes will be a great weekend of racing.
“The conditions look pretty good, we have a northerly flow, classic conditions with a light breeze forecast,” he explains. “Having said that; I live by the coast and the other day was perfect downwind conditions even though this was not forecast. So, I’m quietly hopeful that the weather pattern will give us some good downwind racing conditions.”
Both races are scheduled to start from 1pm with the paddlers released in various waves until 2pm.
Online entries are now closed but entries can be accepted on the day.
For the latest Darcy Price Series standings go here