2016 Auckland Downwind Winter Series: RACE 3

Late registrations continue to plague Race Directors, but delight the 60 odd paddlers around Sunday's Race 3 of the 2016 Auckland Downwind Winter Series.

There was magic and delight for the most hardened souls on Sunday's Race 3 of the Auckland Downwind Winter Series, with the surprise late registration of a large pod of hungry orcas across our start-line with minutes to the horn! Standing on the boat ramp in front of Royal Akarana Yacht Club we would be treated to a rare close-in sighting as these beautiful mammals scrounged up their favourite dish of fresh stingray. One ray, lucky to get away, big-eyed and brandishing the fresh lacerations of sharp orca-teeth after a close call, had almost the same look on its face as runner-up Jack Wilson, after Race 3 winner Simon Longdill slashed out a formidable lead on the first lap of the Bean Rock Back-Burner course in uncharacteristically warm and calm conditions!




While wicked downwind paddling was on the menu for Saturday, Sunday's conditions were as benign as a warm British beer!

The weather has been tumultuous and tempestuous most of winter, but strangely benign on race days. Er, except that is for Race 2 that was postponed due to too much wind. The funny thing about this is is that, quite frankly, no-one really seemed to mind this.

"Hi - my name is Garth, and I am a downwindaholic."

Seriously, I am. Often jeopardizing career and family stability for that sweet, sweet rush of salt-laden, 20-plus-km/h Class A intravenous endorphin with a street name of 'WHOOOOOSAAAAH!', there quite literally isn't anything that comes close. Paddlers try and explain this to the uninitiated. My wife thinks I am quite mad, with a seemingly insatiable appetite for staring at grainy, unstabilised, poorly shot videos of endless screaming runner after runner, from some random Go-Pro equipped Facebooking paddler, from some God-forsaken-but-bloody-windy corner of the planet. I guess the closest I can get to describing 'WHOOOOOSAAAAH!' is that this is perhaps the paddlers version of that 'runners-high' you get when you are in the zone; that go-for-ever euphoric state of charging along on winged heels, where your mind eclipses logical cognition, and flips into a state of autonomic flight. Now add a permanent down-hill factor, a cresting wave that with skill you can manage to ride for hundreds of meters, a serious mission to get out there in the first place, the wild waves and whistling wind, and a twitchy lightweight carbon craft that is attempting to throw you out with every twitch of the steering pedals, and MAYBE those conditions are just right for brewing your very own big ol' batch of 100% proof, concentrated 'WHOOOOOSAAAAH!'

Paora Monk smashes out the 16km waka-ama long course in some pretty balmy conditions. 

And conditions on Sunday were um... nothing like that. At all. So why did paddlers not seem to mind? My pet hate as a paddler when I first arrived from S Africa in the late 90's was paddle races being put off if the wind started to get up. Practice in the conditions, get comfortable with your gear, and get out there, right? This is one of the reasons I decided to start up Pacific Ocean Paddlers, focusing on surfski, SUP and waka-ama paddling, all of which are designed for downwind racing. Because you know, as I do, that it's one thing to get your 'WHOOOOOSAAAAH!' on during a training session with da-boys or girls, but it's quite another when you can do a race like this! And, yes, we have had a few! There have been some legendary King & Queen of the Harbour races, out to Waiheke in stonking SW'lies, or down from Gulf Harbour in wicked NW'lies. How about those legendary Bo Herbert Memorial races up at Tutukaka, or that crazy-Northlander Tim Eve's Poor Knights Crossing in 2015? Not to mention some of the Bhutty Moore races in Tauranga, with winners speeds averaging 17km/h? We had some awesome winds over the preceding few days and the club trailer was full at 6:30 AM on Saturday as we headed out to Westpark Marina for our pre-breakkie downwind run. So, maybe that's why paddlers turned up with a smile on their dials, and headed off around the Bean Rock with the usual vigour, even though the conditions we as benign as a warm British beer!


With the music going and the competitors rounding the turning buoy just off Royal Akarana Yacht Club, the atmosphere was festive. Here waka-ama Long Course winner Paora Monk congratulates some dodgy race official.


With Simon's solid lead over the chase-pack comprising Jack Wilson, Jono Reshef, Oskar Stielau and Tim McClaren, the boys were working hard to wind him in. 

The Short Course single lap would see Andrew Stevens first home in a time of 35:07 for the 6km Bean Rock loop. With Simon's solid lead over the chase-pack comprising Jack Wilson, Jono Reshef, Oskar Stielau and Tim McClaren, (with the same finish order to boot) the boys were working hard to wind him in. But this was not to be - Simon demonstrating his class by opening the gap even further, to finish triumphant and grinning.

With the phenomenal talent in young paddlers in NZ, it is Simon Longdill that triumphed on Sunday, amid plenty of chase from 3rd place getter Jono Reshef.


In the 10km Art IN Surf SUP course we saw Hans Wannemacher take out the title from Trevor Meiklejohn and Troy Huston respectively.

Ladies SUP champ Angela McKee (centre), runner up Marlene Jackson (right) and Courtney Hunter placing third (left).

Organisation is now running pretty smoothly into the third year of the Series but the extra windy vs. flatter conditions have meant that there is actually a lot of racing on over this time of the year, accounting for slightly lower numbers over Race 2 and 3 than what is typical. Looking for a HUGE push for the last and final race of the series on 25th September 2016, Pacific Ocean Paddlers are looking to exceed the illusive 100 paddler mark! We've seen some fantastic support from our younger paddlers, and seeing 16 yr old Jordan McLarin win races 1 and 2, and 14 yr old Aotea Clifton take out the ladies Short Course ski title are all really good signs.

 Ladies Long Course ski champ Pamela Kane, runner-up Michelle Impey and 3rd place-getter Alex Huffadine 

Waka-Ama paddlers would recognize the familiar sight of Mark Malaki-William’s boat approaching the finish line with a convincing lead over regular Jason Eruera, and the not-so-familiar sight of Art-In-Surf NZ’s Felipe Dos Santos in third place. Felipe, more used to racing at the sharp end of the SUP pack, showing everyone that he ‘still has it’ in the Waka! But it was Mark’s winning-grin that took out the Vaikobi Mystery Prize for the media-board social media tagging competition, and coincidentally Sugar Te Pa’a (Ladies Waka Race 2 winner) who would nab the Vaikobi main spot prize too. Tania Albert and Liz Tane would round out 2nd and 3rd respectively.


 Young Aotea Clifton taking out the Short Course in the surfski again, showing that the depth of surfski paddling is well rooted with our younger competitors. Older brother Tuva'a  (19yo) took out the Mens Long Course Spec Ski category with 17yo sister Samalulu cleaning up the ladies Spec ski category too.

Paora Monk (1st), Michel Arai (2nd, not pictured) and Felipe Dos Santos in the medals for the waka-ama long course!

Event 4 kicks off normal time (midday) on Sunday 25th September. There just seemed to be a bloody good vibe down there on Sunday. Dont forget here are a number of gorgeous photos taken during Race 2 by Lissa from LiveSailDie.com available at the below link:

Click on the below for Full Series Results To Date.

Click here for results



A huge thank you to our loyal supporters and volunteers! And what about our awesome sponsors – make sure you thank them for their generous ongoing support!


The prizetable for the last race of the series, with spot prizes being awarded for lucky random draws.


With a readership of 155,000, New Zealand's popular Good Health Choices magazine brings some valuable horsepower to the event sponsorship team, allowing us to extend further the awareness of the health benefits of paddling and of course of the Downwind Winter Series in general. Click on the above link to find out more about the publication!


The Explore Group continue to demonstrate a willingness to support adventure paddlesports, whether its transporting paddlers and spectators to the start/finish on event day, of getting us and our craft over to Waiheke Island for a stonking downwind session! Stay tuned for some exciting news in this space as we work with Explore Group getting paddlers to places otherwise inaccessible in gnarly downwind weather!


Balance Sports Nutrition is one of the longest running, most trusted sports nutrition brands in Australia and New Zealand. Balance Sports Nutrition are responsible for ensuring our race packs and spotty-table is stocked with gels and bars. Click on link above to find out more.


Matty Graham from Exponential Performance Coaching is again providing 2 copies of his e-Book 'PADDLE STRONG - Kayak Specific Strength Training' for two lucky paddlers during the Series! Be sure to click on the above link to find out more about how you can improve your strength and technique! 


Andrew and team will be again hosting us at the Royal Akarana club for the 2015 Downwind Winter Series! 2015 will see commencement of construction on the new clubhouse facilities. Click on the website to join as a member of the coolest paddling and sailing squad in town!


Oskar from FENN New Zealand is, as always, quick at making available a range of FENN surfskis for international or out of town paddlers. Click on the link above if you need any support from FENN in New Zealand. 

Vaikobi are a Principle Sponsor of this years Auckland Downwind Winter Series, with 4 stunning Vaikobi Race-Kits up for grabs worth $500 each! Also, be on the lookout for some good deals at the 2015 ADWS Race Headquarters: PFD's and other gear up for sale!! Click on the icon to order.


Welcome back to Charles and team, who provided the Winter Series High-Vis trucker caps. The high quality T's, hoodies and race gear are now synonymous with NZ paddling events! Cant wait to see what's in store for this event yeehaa! Click on the link to order your paddle-apparel now!



Art In Surf retain their support of the POP events so stay tuned for some exciting news in this space! Click on the link above or hit up Felipe/Courtney for any of your SUP related needs!


Canoe Racing New Zealand are a strong supporter of this years events. Don't forget to check out the official website for all the details of the 2015 events!


For da faces behind da races - Don't forget to check out the official website for all the details of the 2015 events!


Fergs Kayaks continue to support our events, with support in transportation, boats for international paddler and of course spot prizes! Click on the link to see what else Ian and the team have to offer!


PaddlePro - our recent family addition, paddling ergo's that allow you to keep up the training right through the worst of winter! 

Star Kayaks are sponsoring the new 'STAR-COURSE' : No experience required - catering for a wide range of age and ability, this fun course will be run inside Okahu Bay with entries free to all, and all gear and instruction provided. Just bring your own paddle-wear: there really is no excuse to get yourself of the young ones onto the water! 


Pacific Ocean Paddlers are thrilled to maintain an association with the World Surfski Series calendar. With 19 race around the world this year, paddlers are tempted into exotic locations across Australasia, Europe, Africa and North America. This brought an exciting international element to this years King and Queen of the Harbour, and will look to take advantage of international paddlers travelling through Auckland to the ICF World Champs. Click on the link above to find out more!


Tim and the team at Aquanaut remain firmly behind this years POP events, taking care of our quality craft stickers, and ensuring our spotty table is loaded with some high quality race-wear. Paddler are encouraged to take their time applying race stickers and keeping these on their craft as long as possible over the season, as these are reusable for all POP events and will again include the safety feature of Contact Details (including Next Of Kin) of paddler in the case of emergency.


Flow are fronting up with four $250 vouchers off their brand new beautiful carbon MS1/MS2/MS3 paddles! Flow quality products are proudly NZ made and Neil and team enjoy an association with discerning paddlers of these quality boats and paddles across NZ and Australia. Click on the link to find out more about Flow's products.


ipaddle is again providing booty for our spot prizes, specializing in premium gear for serious paddlers, selling the gear that the professionals use, including Mocke, Jantex Paddles, Washrider, Vaaka cadence meters, K1 Trainer ergometers, Nelo kayaks, Nelo surf skis and now Nelo waka ama!  The waka ama are proving a real success with several golds at the Nationals last month. Click on the above link to take advantage of a 10% saving on Terry's Vaikobi stock, including free delivery!