Poor Knights Crossing - Ski wins to Keys and Cairns


It just appeared from nowhere, graceful, majestic and at one with the elements.

Upon sighting the boat, he simply pitched his flight path up and dipped his wings right, then breezed over the cockpit windscreen, almost seeming to use the wind sheer of the cabin to propel his flight past and away.

Ben Keys

The albatross, glancing as if to register his displeasure at our presence, then moved off, obviously with more important survival related issues to deal with.


Transfixed by the vision of the albatross, it took a moment to register the next sight on the horizon.  It first appeared like some sort of brooding dark cloud sitting on the horizon.  Until the cloud began moving and morphing, then we realised what we were looking at.


The huge flock of Buller’s shearwaters stretched for at least 200 metres in both directions, and even from a significant distance away the shrill chaotic calls were still audible.  It was one of the sure signs of spring’s seasonal arrival.


The Poor Knights Islands are the only nesting place in the world for these sea birds. They migrate annually to North America, and come back home to breed in burrows in the ground, shared with tuatara, a dinosaur lizard


Then the dark grey fin popped the surface of the ocean, at first mistaken for a shark fin, it was then identified as the unmistakeable fin of a tropical sunfish.


It is highly unlikely any of the paddlers powering their way over the ocean in the annual Poor Knights Crossing ocean event were aware of nature’s show unfurling around them.  They were focused on the surging tailwind conditions that were pushing them toward the finish line at the Poor Knights Marine Reserve.


The hoots and hollers of the paddlers as they surfed down the face of the wind generated swell only added to the spectacle from the viewing platform of the race control boat.

The action at the pointy end of the race pack though was equally dramatic.


Minus a large collection of Aoatearoa’s best surf ski proponents and the usually smattering of Australian paddle wizards due to the ongoing ravages of Covd, this year’s title was always going to be a wide open affair.


In the end Ben Keys, a paddler based in Otautahi Christchurch surged to an impressive victory over a small but talented field, but not before he was put under the microscope by not just other ski paddlers like Toby Brooke and Sam Newlands, but a powerhouse waka ama paddler from the far north called Tupuria King.


King finished third overall, just minutes behind Keys, and slipping over the finish line inside the massive Rikoriko seacave at the Poor Knights just ahead of Newlands, adding more lustre to his burgeoning reputation as an ocean athlete.


Former Olympian Anne Cairns won the womens ski division and Emma Van Berkel defended her open womens waka ama title in impressive times as well.

The overall champion was the ocean here though, Te Moana Nui A Kiwa, the ocean that Kiwa sailed, provided not just the playground for the paddlers in this year’s race, but a canvas of nature.  Added to the paddling battles was the sheer majesty of Papatuanuku, our earth mother, along with just a gentle seasoning from Tawhirimatea and Tangaroa, the wind and sea gods.


Until next year, Kia kaha, kia māia, kia manawanui, kia tupato.

(Be strong, be brave, be steadfast, be careful)

Photos Scotty Sinston


  Contact Bib  
1 Ben Keys 1h 36m 41s Ski
2 Toby Brooke 1h 38m 00s Ski
3 Tupuria King 1h 38m 59s Waka
4 Samuel Newlands 1h 39m 54s Ski
5 Reid Forrest 1h 42m 17s Ski
6 Daniel Peacock 1h 44m11s Ski
7 Luke wainui 1h 45m 32s Dwaka
8 Paora Monk 1h 45m 32s Dwaka
9 Jonathon Alsop 1h 45m 33s Ski
10 Eric Holland-Waterson 1h 50m 44s Waka
11 Jack Wormald 1h 51m 47s Waka
12 Brad Huntley 1h 53m 25s Waka
13 Brad Anderson 1h 53m 25s Waka
14 Kacey Ngataki 1h 54m 13s Waka
15 Mark Malaki-Williams 1h 54m 37s Waka
16 Kier Henry 1h 56m 29s Waka
17 Myka Nuku 1h 56m 30s Waka
18 Lance Hibbert 1h 57m 01s Waka
19 Anne Cairns 1h 57m 09s Ski
20 Simon Wolfgram 1h 57m 09s Waka
21 Danial Bremner 1h 58m 18s Ski
22 Carly Tyler 1h 58m 18s Ski
23 Mitch Zandstra 1h 58m 18s Waka
24 Justin Roberts 1h 59m 19s Waka
25 Matt Archer 2h 02m 03s Waka
26 Ross Heald 2h 02m 50s Ski
27 Murray Marquet 2h 03m 12s Waka
28 Shayne Edmondson 2h 03m 33s Ski
29 Jb Ioaba 2h 03m 37s Waka
30 Jon Lobb 2h 03m 54s Waka
31 El Gordo 2h 04m 40s Waka
32 Warren Smith 2h 05m 24s Ski
33 Daniel Wikaira 2h 07m 05s Waka
34 Steven Outwin 2h 07m 35s Waka
35 James Young 2h 09m 32s Waka
36 Emma van Berkel 2h 09m 44s Waka
37 Seb Head 2h 09m 44s Waka
38 Jason Ashford 2h 11m 04s Waka
39 Rutene Gabel 2h 12m 38s Waka
40 Arno Theijessen 2h 12m 40s Waka
41 Vesna Radonich 2h 13m 58d Waka
42 Lionell Nel 2h 14m 31s Waka
43 Sean Timoney 2h 14m 47s Waka
44 Peter Hartley 2h 15m 21s Ski
45 Callum O'Leary 2h 16m 25s Waka
46 Jamie Troughton 2h 17m 08s Ski
47 taare ruakere 2h 19m 42s Waka
48 Ngaire Pehi 2h 22m 09s Waka
49 Greg Alexander 2h 38m 01s Ski
50 Zoe Hovarth 2h 38m 19s  
51 Whare Randell 2h 39m 32s Waka
52 Mars Dempster 2h 47m 28s Dwaka
53 Mars Dempster 2h 47m 28s Dwaka
54 julie marriott 3h 03m 34s Waka
55 Jaroz Popata DNS  
56 Roz Popata DNS  
57 Stephen Roulston DNS  
58 Tane Heta DNS  
59 Scott Kennedy Short  
60 Darren Collins short  
61 Glenn Wilson short  
62 ian reid short  
63 Nicole Wingrove short