Entries are open for the 2023 Deep South Downwind, the inaugural event bringing ocean ski racing to the Queenstown, and one of a few races that would make an awesome South Island holiday adventure in the new year.
Organised by the Southern Lakes Multisport Club, the newest race in the Darcy Price Ocean Racing Series is scheduled to take place on Saturday 21st January 2023 and set to showcase this best kept downwind secret to the paddling world.
With a couple of course options on Lake Whakatipu and the post-race party at Altitude Brewing, it’s hard to go wrong whatever the wind decides to do.
“The southern lakes can produce exceptional downwind paddling, as the wind funnels down between the mountains.” Says Dan Bremner, one of the masterminds behind this race. “It’s surfing waves at elevation surrounded by stunning scenery. It has the potential to be a really unique event for all types of paddlers- it will be much more than just another race.”
The downwind race is open to skis, waka ama and stand-up paddleboards, while there will also be a separate race for multisport boats.
While multisport or river paddling is traditionally the biggest paddling discipline down south due to the popularity of adventure racing and events such as the Coast to Coast, the Southern Lakes Multisport club has noticed a shift lately in the types of craft and paddling going on.
“There’s been a real growth of interest in ski paddling down in Whakatipu over the last couple of years” said Kat Bulk, one of the event organisers. “This event is the next step for us to continue to highlight to locals how great ski paddling can be and to share our spot with the wider paddling community, to grow paddling as a whole down here.”
Kat puts the growth of ski paddling down to a few passionate paddlers, such as Dougal Allen and Alex Huffadine, starting to show up in ocean skis. Others have been able to see what all the fuss was about and want to get in on the action.
“We can get some pretty big winds down here which can chop up the lake and make for some great paddling conditions, if you have the right craft. Skis and wakas allow paddlers to get out and have fun on the lake in conditions where a multisport boat is not safe or suitable.”
The January date is set to make of the most of the summer thermal winds that present on Lake Whakatipu at that time of year, as well as to complement other races in the paddling calendar.
There is the popular Waimak Classic in Canterbury the weekend prior, and the Queen and King of the Bay surfski festival in Nelson the weekend after, so tying in either (or both!) of those races with the Deep South Downwind would make for an awesome January holiday, as well as leaving lots of time to enjoy the adventure-junkie activities and local specialties (Central Otago winery anyone?) that the South Island is famous for.
“Queenstown is a destination in itself, and a really exciting paddling location.” concluded Dan We are so excited to get everyone down here and having a wicked time with our paddling whanau.”
For more info and to register for the 2023 Deep South Downwind, check out https://www.southernlakesmultisportclub.co.nz/downwind
The Darcy Price NZ Ocean Surfski Series is the national ocean racing series comprising of the premier surfski races around Aotearoa. Made up of 8 events each summer, a paddler’s best 4 races will count towards the series results, with a prize-giving at the final event. All series info on Paddler.nz events page.