Australia's Cory Hill backs up his 2016 King of the Harbour title to take Race 1 of the 2017 World Surfski Series in undoubtadly the toughest conditions in the 16 years of running the event. Auckland's Andy Mowlem was a solid second over Mark Anderson in 3rd to round out this year's podium!

If 2016 was The Year Of The Aussies, 2017 was undoubtedly The Year of Tangaroa, the Mãori god of the sea, raging battle with his brother, Tawhirimatea the god of storms.  Make no mistake, this was a tough day out, irrespective of what course you did. We had 6/12 or 27km of everything thrown at us: squalls of 20-30 knots, sheeting rain, event-equipment failure, cold, extreme tidal flows, cross chop conditions. We were thoroughly tested. The faces coming off the water and into the long walk up the beach spoke volumes. But 181 of you registered, with only a handful of non-starters, and it was very humbling to watch you all come off the water, especially for those of you first-time KQotH-Paddlers! We crowned our new King of the Harbour (Australia's Cory Hill - 2:08) and Queen of the Harbour (Auckland North Shore's Rachel Louise Clarke - 2:36) in a repeat of last year's win results, which is amazing. Men's Runners-Up included local RAYC paddler Andy Mowlem in 2:10 in 2nd place and Aussie Mark Anderson in 2:11 to take out the top three. In the ladies race there wasn't much between the challengers, with Teneale Hatton (2:42) and Dene Simpson (2:46) rounding out the podium. The Waterman Store NZ kicked off the inaugural NZ Distance Paddle Board Champs, and a swath of talented young athletes were thrown into the mix!



If the build-up to this year's event was anything to go by, we knew we were in for a storm! Traditionally the King and Queen of the Harbour is run over several regularly paddled courses, chosen primarily for their orientation relative to the prevailing winds, for their convenient put-in-take-out points and ease of logistics (transport/travel etc.) With the concurrently run World Masters Games, the permitting process, event exclusion zones and other limitations precluded us from accessing these locations, and we were forced to take the start and finish points well outside of Auckland, adding a level of complexity that came close to seeing the 16th edition of the race cancelled, with the event finally acquiring its permit a few hours before the start, after more than 11 months of planning.

“Running our National Ocean Racing Championship event this year within the WMG window sounded like a good idea at the time, as this afforded a number of visiting nationals and internationals the opportunity to compete in both the first race of the 2017 World Surfski Series, and their WMG events.” According to event director Garth Spencer, this would see an increased number of entries, but also a number of compromises and plenty of drama behind the scenes “that took all of our focus to resolve”.


So too did Saturday’s conditions take all of the athlete’s resolve to overcome: “Those conditions were tough! Not much to ride between Long Bay and Rangitoto, and after heading towards Browns Island the rain really came through and I wasn’t too sure I was still heading in the right direction!” Cory Hill prevailed in his campaign for a second year, beating local up-and-comer Andrew Mowlem by a couple of minutes over the 27km course in his lead up to this year’s Molokai World Surfski Series event.


“That was a tough paddle – It was pretty good up to the lighthouse, but quite side-on after that. I was happy with my finish, and it’s always nice to have some downwind in a race!” Andrew has put in a tremendous amount of work over the build-up for the event, and has remained incredibly focussed in his training.



The start off picturesque Long Bay was choppy, with the Ladies starting in Wave 1. But it would be Rachel Clark who would cross the finish line in 1st place, retaining her Queen of the Harbour title for the 5th consecutive year:

“So happy to come away with a win at the first World Series Race of the Year - King & Queen of the Harbour, in very tough conditions. Congrats to everyone who finished the race. A massive thanks to my sponsors for all your support!” 

Hard working Teneale Hatton was second and Dene Simpson stormed in in third place in a competitive women’s field.


The pouring rain and gale force winds did not deter a large field that included a strong ladies contingent from taking to the water from Long Bay on Auckland's North Sore. Pictured above Teneale Hatton and Steph Crncevic get their game-faces on heading down to the water for a long 27km's.



A number of Waka-Ama athletes took on the conditions today between Long Bay and Eastern Beach, with Tahiti's Wilfred Teamo taking out the long course in a time of 2:45, followed by Gordon Mackay and another fellow Tahitian Haunui Taati,. One of the toughest conditions facing these competitors was not the weather and the conditions on the sea, but rather the complete failure of your race director with his addled brain to acknowledge this and a few other classes at the prize-giving! Prize monies have been sent out to all worthy recipients - please accept my humblest apologies. This was, of course, not intentional!


Special mention to Charles Nepia from Team Strongarm Power In The Water, one of our long time supporters of these events, who covered the 27km course  with sone Eli to come in 1st OC2. "Dad I could have gone longer!" was Eli's comment at the end, and Charles is still working on a response. Somethign tells me Eli is one to watch! The hard-racing duo of Nigel Draper/Birgit Meister smashed home to second place in the OC2, with Tuitonga in third place.


In a mammoth effort, 8 hardy souls completed the 27km course in probably the harshest conditions they will race in in a long time. Team NSP rider Marcus Hansen crossed the line first  after a stellar season that would see him crowned first Kiwi home in the recent NZ SUP Nationals and therefore earning an invite to the 2017 ISA Worlds in Denmark, aswell as cleaning up the Otahu Cup event. Marcus was followed by Armie Armstrong in second and fellow NSP rider Shaan Miller.  "Garth this is one of the toughest event I have ever done, and probably ever will do!" Shaan would later quote. Lets face it - cross chop in a ski is one thing: Today's conditions were extra technical for the SUP and Waka competitors. An amazing effort, eclipsed only by the Race Director's complete failure to recognize these hero's at the prize-giving. This is being rectified and winners have been contacted. A special mention must be made to Doug Robertson who covered the course in 4:49 after securing his entry in last year's City Surf Series prizegiving.




Taking out the Doubleski title was North Shore team of Anton Reiman and Len De Beer, followed closely by RAYC Paddlers Paul Whitley and Bernard Kimble, while the Specski title was won by Queenstown's Bruce Lauder with Ross Merrett pictured below in second place.



This year we saw the introduction of the Waterman Store NZ NZ Distance Paddle Board Champs, and a very spirited younger crowd of athletes traveled into Auckland for the event. It was awesome to have these competitors on the water with us, and the 10'6 Woman's champ Star Teaukura romped home on the 6km course, with Brooke Shergold and Sophie Hayden equal-second.The Men's division was taken out by Mitch Cowdrey, followed by Liam Moffat and Tanner Baxter in 2nd and 3rd. Over shocking conditions we saw Cory Taylor, Scott Cowdrey and Sam Shergold smash out the 12km, longer course around Browns Island, in steady downpours all day, while in the ladies division Danielle Mckenzie, Maddie Spencer and Jessica Miller raced for 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively (making the Waterman Store NZ Hawaiian holiday giveaway even more special!)

The Men's 10'6" division was taken out by Mitch Cowdrey, followed by Liam Moffat and Tanner Baxter in 2nd and 3rd.

(Above)10'6 Woman's champ Star Teaukura romped home on the 6km course, with Brooke Shergold and Sophie Hayden equal-second.

 (Above) Over shocking conditions we saw Cory Taylor, Scott Cowdrey and Sam Shergold smash out the 12km, longer course around Browns Island, in steady downpours all day, while in the ladies division  (Below) Danielle Mckenzie, Maddie Spencer and Jessica Miller raced for 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively.



6KM and 12km OCEANSKI

This new Waterman Store shorter courses category paved the way for the Short Course Waka/SUP and Surfski categories, and notable performances were recorded by Bruno Colos from Argentina for winning the 6km Ski race, with Stephen Haynes winning the 12km Browns Island basher, followed by Event Nutrition Partner Radix Nutrition's Mike Rudling in his first surfski race, and 3rdly another local RAYC paddler Jim Swanson. The ladies 12km epic was won by Auckland's Danelle Snowden, closely followed by surfski newcomer Danika Mowlem in 2nd and Helen Blair in 3rd.


 (Above): Danelle Snowden taking out the ladies 12km Oceanski Course

And how can we forget the smile on the face of the brand new NELO ski owner, David Clough, or the smiles from the faces of those brave enough to face the chilly waters of Vector WERO Whitewater Park at the Prologue Event.











A huge thank you to all involved, starting with our naming rights sponsor Giltrap VW - there was mud, there was wind, there was drama. But there was also you Georgina, George and Cathleen, serving us a hot feed under the Giltrap tent at the end of it all. I also want to thank Dave Morton for helping arrange boats for internationals, Vivian, Judi and Doug for their dillegence with the results, even when our systems failed in the rain, Ben behind the lens, Leif and team keeping us safe on the water, Grant, Mandy,  Pete and Jo from The Waterman Store, Andy from Star Kayaks, Mike James and team from Radix, Pat from Vaikobi and Tim Eves who drove a trailer down and back from Whangarei, and who runs an AWESOME BLOODY RACE if you want another challenge haha.

The Official Naming Rights Partner of the 2017 Giltrap | VW Auckland King and Queen of the Harbour
Volunteer-run, not-for-profit organisation looking to grow paddle-sports in the eastern Pacific region. Click logo for our Vision.
Official Event Sportswear Apparel Partner: The world's most innovative apparel for the ocean-athlete.
Matty Graham's kayak-specific-strength training e-Book could get you next level results - click above to order this now!
Official Event Supplier of Adhesive Craft Stickers, and Prize Support!
Provider of Carbonology ski prizepacks and support for visiting paddlers.
Official Event Nutrition Partner: Convenient, natural, high-quality meals. Simple.
Official Event Sports Supplement Partner: the longest running, most trusted sports nutrition brand in Australia and New Zealand.
Official Event Gold Prize Partner, providing logistic support and Prize support for this year's event.!
Official PRONE Brand & Short Course Event Partner: Peter and Jo of The Waterman Store supporting the PRONE event in a big way!
Official Event Race Cap Provider: performance and casual wear designed specifically for the modern paddler.
Official Event Surfski Brand Partner: A significant part of the support behind the Major Spot Prize Category!
Official Event SUP Brand Partner, helping to grow the event by providing leadership in the SUP categories.