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Prato and Mowlem secure NZ OceanSKI series wins in Closest Series YEt

Danika Mowlem locked in her third consecutive Darcy Price NZ Ocean Ski series win in the female ocean ski category on Saturday, while Gene Prato came out on top of a tightly fought battle with previous series winner Ben Keys in the male ski category. The 2023/24 NZ Ocean Ski Series champions were confirmed at the final race of the season, the Auckland King and Queen of the Harbour, with the title winners determined by the final race concluding an awesome summer of ocean ski racing across Aotearoa.

The 2023/24 Ocean ski series was significantly impacted by weather this summer, with two of the 8 events cancelled and 2 others needing alternate courses due to excessive wind. As a result, series organisers adjusted the series points to mean only 3 races were required to be in contention for the series, instead of the original 4 out of 8.

Gene Prato was leading the overall mens series going into the final event, courtesy of race wins at the season opener Tahi Rawhiti Challenge, the James Moore-morial race and the Heads to Harbour event in Whakatane. Garth Spencer sat in 2nd place with Mike Walker 3rd with just one point separating them. Ben Keys sat out of the points going into the final event as he had only competed in 2 races (taking wins in the King of the Bay and Paddler Virtual Challenge) but he was in contention to snatch the title, needing to finish ahead of Gene at the Auckland event.

Gene emerged as the series champion thanks to his second place at the Auckland King and Queen of the Harbour, behind young gun Jayden Murphy. Ben Keys was 4th overall earning 273 points and finished the series with 873 points compared to Gene’s 900 points.

Garth Spencer finished the series 3rd overall on 853 points and took out the Masters 50+ age group title. One point behind was Mike Walker who took home the highly fought after Masters 40+ category ahead of Reid Forrest and Jeremy Kuggeleijn.

Simon Woods won the 60+ age group for the men, having competed in 4 out of 6 series races. Michael Esterhuizen won the U23 Series, while Rory Orman won the Junior (18&U) division.

In the women’s series, Grace Richardson won the Junior division and was 2nd overall. Isla Westlake won the U23 Division, while Shirley Erwee won the Masters women category.

The mixed double ski series was dominated by paddlers from the Nelson/Motueka region with Dan Bremner and Claire Sykes winning overall ahead of Elora Hallett and Morgan Moore. Overall King and Queen of Harbour winning pair Nathan Fa’avae and Sophie Hart were third in the series.


Congratulations to all paddlers who competed in the series and ocean ski events this summer. The 2024/25 Series will resume in September. Dates for event races will be announced in June/July.



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