Top paddlers race in top of the south




 The Nelson Tasman region is hosting two ocean surfski events over the weekend (February 15th & 16th). On Saturday is round 4 of the Canoe Racing National Series, the longest running surfski race in the South Island, the Queen and King of the Bay which begun in 2009. The 26km course is from Kaiteriteri Beach to Port Mapua. 55-paddlers from around the country will be lining up for the race along the Motueka and Ruby Bay coastlines.

The race has attracted many of the countries elite paddlers who are contesting the National Series. Organisers are expecting close racing with the strongest field assembled for the race.


In the Queen of the Bay contest three previous winners are entered, Lynley Coventry, Suzie Le Cren and Carly Keys who is the defending race winner. The womens field will be elevated tremendously with Auckland paddlers Rachel Clarke and Teneale Hatton, both of whom race internationally and have scored victories in the worlds biggest races. Clarke is the 8 x NZ Surf Ski Champion, 2 x Molokai Surf Ski World Champion and 2017 World Series Champion. Hatton is a former Olympic K1 paddler and has had an illustrious career in K1 and surfski. Tara Smith from Blenheim has won the Nelson summer series events leading into this weekend. There are a number of other competent paddlers that will be competitive on the water.


The men’s race sees three previous winners on the water also, Andrew Mowlem, Dan Busch and Nathan Fa’avae. Joining them on the start will be the inform Ben Keys from Christchurch who was only narrowly beaten in the race in 2019. There is a powerful contingent of paddlers from both Auckland and Christchurch that will create an exciting battle of paddles. There is a veteran 50-plus category and some of these athletes are competitive in the open division also.


The doubles race will see five-doubles committing for the win. Relatively evenly matched it will be hard to call a winner.


The race has five start waves starting from Kaiteriteri Beach in the early afternoon, with most paddlers arriving in Port Mapua about 4:00pm.


The major sponsor Think Kayaks has put a brand new surfski up for grabs as a prize.


The forecast for Saturday is warm with light northerlies.


On Sunday the paddlers can expect heavier seas when they tackle the South Island Surfski Championships from Cable Bay to Tahunanui Beach. The 21km downwind race is forecast for strong northerlies. Jimmy Feathery won this race last time it was in Nelson and will be looking for a repeat of that performance.


The events are hosted by the Nelson Surfski Club and sponsored by Think, Vaikobi, KayakHQ and Chia Sisters.