Virtual Championships set for action

The Canoe Racing NZ Virtual Surfski Championships will officially go live tomorrow (Saturday May 16) as paddlers from around the world battle over the 12km distance in the exciting new event.

The innovative competition will replace the cancelled 2020 CRNZ National Surf Ski Championships and ensure that paddlers will have a meaningful competitive opportunity as New Zealand adapts to live at an Alert Level 2.

Competition rules state that paddlers must start and finish the 12km distance at the same point to minimise the impact of wind and current. The event opens on Saturday and runs until Sunday June 14 with only the best time of each paddler counting towards the championship. 

Besides the attraction of chasing a national title, the event will also form the climax of the inaugural Darcy Price Series – with the same points available for this event as would have been for the National Surfski Championships, which were scheduled to have taken place on April 25 in Whakatane. 

Top Kiwi surfski paddler Teneale Hatton said: “We created the series in honour of our good friend Darcy, who we lost in 2018 and who had a passion for bringing people together through paddling. Although the lockdown has interrupted the inaugural series, we think Darcy would have loved the idea of us all getting out there and having a crack despite these unprecedented circumstances.”

To enter paddlers must head to and once they have completed their 12km paddle, entrants will be asked to fill in personal details, add their time and upload a GPX file and/or a photo of their Strava (or other GPS hosting site) screen indicating the route, distance and time.

The competition – which must be completed in a surfski – is open to paddlers from around the world, although only New Zealand citizens/residents are eligible for the national championships.

It will be run in various age-group categories for not only single surfskis but also doubles. A 3km distance under-16 division has also been added – which can be completed in any kind of craft.

CRNZ CEO Tom Ashley said: “It’s certainly unorthodox to award a national championship title through a virtual race. However, like many people, we are keen to innovate to make the most of the current situation. The paddlers we’ve spoken to have been overwhelmingly positive about the idea, and given the response we have decided to incorporate virtual racing into our event offering for the future.”

CRNZ are currently working on a calendar of virtual challenges that will run throughout the rest of the year and into the future, which will target both the flatwater and surfski paddling communities. More details to follow in the coming weeks.

The home for the new Virtual Surfski Nationals is the new platform. Paddler is a new initiative led by CRNZ in collaboration with other paddle sports organisations and members of the paddling community. The Paddler project will be officially launched on June 15.