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Launch of CRNZ Virtual Surfski Championships

The Canoe Racing New Zealand Virtual Surfski Championships will act as the launch event for an exciting new series of virtual races organised by CRNZ which are open to paddlers from around the world.


The green light to race in the innovative event will be granted when New Zealand enters an alert level two – and paddlers will have one month from then to record a quickest time.


The event will replace the cancelled 2020 CRNZ National Surf Ski Championships, which was scheduled to take place on April 25 in Whakatane.


Paddlers can satisfy their competitive desires by entering the event and posting a time over the 12km distance. Competitors must start and finish at the same point to minimise the effect of the wind, current etc. The competition is free to enter but must be raced in a surfski with no pausing of the watch/phone during the 12km paddle.


Participants can post as many times as they would like across the month-long period but only their best time will count.


The event is open to any paddler across the world but only New Zealand citizens/residents are eligible for the National Championships. The event will also form the climax of the inaugural Darcy Price Series – with the same points available for this event as would have been for the National Surf Ski Championships.


The vibrant competition gives paddlers an additional incentive to train with the lure of taking on not only friends and club-mates but paddlers from around the world.


CRNZ CEO Tom Ashley said “It’s certainly unorthodox to award a National Championship title through a virtual race. However, like many people, we are keen to innovate to make the most of the current situation. The paddlers we’ve spoken to have been overwhelmingly positive about the idea, and given this response we have decided to incorporate virtual racing into our event offering for the future.”


Andrew Mowlem, one of New Zealand’s most prominent surkski paddlers and chair of the Distance Paddling Committee, said: “It’s really exciting to see the initiative as restrictions ease. The Distance Committee were really keen to ensure the Darcy Price Series and nationals were completed, and believe this format will generate interest and engagement in the paddling community.


“It seems a great way to connect paddlers in all regions to participate and compete in a flexible way over a time period in their home waters, and if successful there is consideration of making it a regular fixture in years to come.


“It will be fascinating to see the varying courses and conditions chosen around New Zealand and overseas, and I’m sure the usual banter, stories and encouragement will still happen online.”


Further entry details, including how to enter, submit results and additional rules of the Virtual National Surfski Championships will be updated soon.


CRNZ are currently working on a calendar of virtual challenges that can run throughout the rest of the year and into the future. These will be targeted at clubs and both the flatwater and surfski paddling communities. More detail will be issued in due course.


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