The Vaikobi Auckland King and Queen of the Harbour is back this weekend, after an 18 month break since the 2020 event.
The race was delayed in November due to the covid lockdown in the City of Sails last year, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt the event, with a huge number of entries and some highly anticipated action. Here are 5 reasons why the Auckland King and Queen of the Harbour is going to rock!
1. Near- record number of entries
There are currently over 150 paddlers expected to line up on the start line at Takapuna Beach on Saturday. This is a massive increase from around the 110 paddler mark where this event normally sits, and is made up of ocean skis, specskis, waka ama and SUPs. Incomplete records suggest only the 2017 KqoH had more entries. There are many reasons why this may be, but whatever the reason we are stoked more people are realizing how awesome ocean paddling is! It is going to be an amazing spectacle to see this many paddlers on the water.
2. Rachel Clarke gunning for ten
She may have a new last name but Rachel Mayhew nee Clarke will be hoping the winning streak continues, as she is chasing her tenth Queen of the Harbour title this weekend. Rachel won on debut in 2013, and has dominated the race since. Whether she will be challenged remains to be seen- no doubt the likes of Danika Mowlem and Rebecca Cole will be putting up a fight- but history shows when Rachel shows up, she is a class of her own.
3. Mens race battle
We love a good battle at the front and Ben Keys and Tupu King are used to providing the action. We can't wait to see another exciting contest between these two on Saturday. Ben Keys is looking to retain his crown after winning this race for the first time in 2020. At that race Tupu finished 7th, which was an impressive effort considering it was his first surfski event. However since then, Tupu has never been far from the front, including winning the 2021 Bhutty Moore and 2021 NZ Ocean ski nationals. At their last head to head in Nelson in February, Ben took the gun. Will Tupu get his revenge? “I’m a bit nervous as I haven’t been on the ski since Nelson (as I’ve been focusing on Waka ama). But I heard Ben is in town so I can’t miss an opportunity to race the champ!”
4. Stunning course debut
A beautiful new course will be debuted on Saturday and it looks to showcase the spectacular paddling and landscapes we have in Auckland. While the weather hasn’t produced a downwind paddle that excites most ocean paddlers, participants will instead race out to the iconic Rangitoto lighthouse then experience the rugged, untouched northern coastline of the volcano that most people never get to see. The paddlers will then turn and race back to the golden sand of Takapuna Beach. It will be a fast course and should be easily achievable for all paddlers.
5. Sunday’s Kahawai event
This one is not exactly about the King and Queen of the Harbour, but tacked on to this event has been the 2nd annual Kahawai Champs, a new event concept by CRNZ to help attract and develop the next generation of paddlers. On the Sunday morning, over 30 junior paddlers (from under-12s to under-18s) of all abilities will be racing a series of short races (2-4minutes) off Takapuna Beach in a Paddler-X format. It is a fast, exciting and fun race format. Many paddlers are also racing the short 6km course on Saturday, so it will be a great weekend of racing for our future heroes.
It is not too late to enter either of these events. Check out the following links for full details:
Auckland King and Queen of the Harbour- https://www.takapunaboating.org.nz/paddling/auckland-king-and-queen-of-the-harbour/
2022 Kahawai Champs- Sunday 8th May https://www.paddler.nz/kahawai