2016 Auckland Downwind Winter Series: RACE 4

Simon Longdill takes the famous Pacific Ocean Paddlers Paua off Andrew Mowlem, as the overall 2016 Auckland Downwind Winter Series surfski long course winner!

Race 4 of the Auckland Downwind Winter Series dramatically wrapped up on Sunday with an epic paddle from Maraetai. Along with ‘The Big Announcement’, the longest course of the series saw 50 plus waka, surfski and SUP paddlers take on ‘The Beachlands Blisterer’ 23km course, and another dozen race back from St Heliers in a messy Easterly weather system. Returning from Tahiti’s World Surfski Series ‘Maraamu’ classic, series front runners Simon Longdill and Tim McLaren couldn’t hold back Andrew Mowlem who is back in fighting form, while Pea Strickland smashed out a victory in the ART-IN-SURF SUP course, and waka-warrior Paora Monk finishing the series with another win. The stage is now set for the 2017 VW|Giltrap Auckland King and Queen of the Harbour, with Sundays announcement of this exciting new partnership!




While Andrew Mowlem (Right) put down the hammer to finish strongly ahead of Mike Walker and Simon Longdill (Left) it wasn't enough for him to maintain his series lead.

Race 4 literally marks the end of an era, and the ushering in of a new phase for the event. Being the last Auckland Downwind Winter Series that will be held at the present-day Royal Akarana Yacht Club, we are all pretty keen to see the work start on the new clubrooms in October. Paddlers will shift to Auckland Sailing Club clubrooms over the build, which should lead to an even closer integration of SUP, surfski and waka-ama watermen and waterwomen.

The couple that race together... You know the saying. Just proving that Surfski and Waka-Ama are more than compatible, with long time event supporters Michelle Impey and Richie Ulrich (both 2nd place-getters in Series points for Long Course Oceanski and Waka-Ama).

Race 4 also introduced a new partnership, with VW|Giltrap coming on board as Naming Rights Partner for the 2017 King and Queen of the Harbour, and as momentum continue to build for this iconic race (now in it’s 14th year) a number of exciting developments will see competitors capitalising on the World Masters Games infrastructure in what promises to be an amazing week or racing with the best masters paddlers in the world across many paddling disciplines. Mark this date now: Saturday 29th April 2017 (weather day Sunday 30th April 2017).


VW/Gilltrap's shiny new red and white two-tone Ocean California campervan is fast proving to be the ultimate paddler's wagon, and soon to be a regular sight at Pacific Ocean Paddlers events, thanks to a  significant new  Auckland King and Queen of the Harbour naming rights partnership.

With conditions on Sunday forecasting a strong Easterly of gusting up to 27knots, there were a few tense moments in the clubrooms on Sunday morning, while going through the safety briefings. Thunderstorms were coming and going, visibility would cloud in with the fronts and then clear again. 2 additional safety craft were put on the water and the long course call was made and stuck to. Loading up in the rain was supervised by our Chief Logistician Grant Heim, and following the briefing the caravan of trailers set off for Maraetai, lead by the shiny new VW California Ocean, made possible in part through the amazing new VW|Giltrap partnership. Quickly proving to be the uber-paddler-van, this Race Director and his two ninjas just may be disappearing off the grid for a good chunk of the school holidays to suss out some of the best kept paddling secrets on the North Island!

Andrew Stevens, Dave Chambers  (Right) and Alan Williscroft take out the top three series slots on the men's Oceanski Short Course.

Lining up the masses off the tip of Maraetai Pier was like herding cats, but eventually the siren was sounded and spectators were treated to the morass of frothing blades and churning waters they were waiting for, with a number of thrilled locals commenting that they had never seen anything like this! The first 10 km’s saw long course competitors treated to some following ‘rideable’ seas, without winds getting anywhere near what was forecasted, but rounding Musick Point these winds swung more northerly, before squalling out.

Top three series slots for the Ladies Short Course Specski went to Aotea Clifton (Right), Danelle Snowden (Centre) and Cleo Wheeler (Left).

Ladies  Long Course Waka-ama Series champs are Suger Te Paa (Left), Liz Tane (Centre) and Tania Albert (Right).

The ART-IN-SURF SUP Course Series Champs were  Dave Cracknell (1st, second from right), Hans Wannemacher (third from right) and Phil Ash (fourth from right)

Ladies Series Winners for the ART-IN-SURF Long-Course are Marlene Jackson (Centre), Angela McKee (Right) and Linda Conrad (Left).

Overall Series champ Simon Longdill also picked up the highly sought after TRUE yoga voucher, 3 months of unlimited yoga classes at TRUE, worth $450!

Long course and Short course competitors all looked relieved to finish and warm up, with only one incident on record, when Jason Berry’s steering system failed, necessitating a rescue.

In particular I wanted to acknowledge our sponsors for the series: Pat from Vaikobi – you have changed to face of paddling here in NZ and around the paddling globe. Felipe and Courtney from Art in Surf, for your creative enthusiasm (and the most beautiful trophies and medals that you guys hand-make!), Nic and Kelly and the new crew at TRUE, Terry from iPaddle, Charles from Strongarm (we love the caps Charles!), Simon and the team at Fergs, Richard at PaddlePro, Karen and the team at CRNZ, Stacey and the Balance Nutrition bunch, Andy from Star-Kayaks for all your help at all the events over the last 2 years, Matty Graham from Exponential Performance Coaching and Jason Berry from Pure Healthcare.


Overall series results for the 2016 Auckland Downwind Winter Series: Click on the image above for more detail here.

I wanted to thank each of you for your ongoing support of the series – it’s been an awesome experience for me and the team, and I have learnt so much. It’s great to see the comradery between the various paddling disciplines, and especially great to see the younger paddlers doing so well.


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!


Welcome to TRUE Food and Yoga who have joined our team, providing prizes, vouchers comp-cards and our Venue for the King and Queen of the Harbour 2017. Dont forget the Paddlers Special breakky and of course the Pacific Ocean Paddlers Yoga Speacial 12 months for the price of 10! Click in the link to find out more!


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!