Ocean ski racing is often held in beautiful places on beautiful stretches of water, but it was definitely in agreement from the all of the paddlers that Saturday’s Deepsouth Downwind was up there with the best of them. Held under bluebird skies, the western end Lake Whakatipu was the stage for the newest event on the oceanski calendar and it delivered the goods- a 26km course which snaked from 12 Mile Delta around to Deep Creek Stream, which saw paddlers racing past waterfalls and overlooked by glaciers.
The racing was as hot as the conditions. Toby Brooke wasted no time laying down his intentions, shooting off the start line like a cut snake and using his downwind surfing skills to put a big gap on the chasing paddlers by the 6km mark. As the course turned a corner, the wind and waves paddlers were enjoying flattened out and it became a flatwater race. Liam Lace, a flatwater specialist, settled into his task, working alongside his mate Tim Waller taking 3minute leads and together pulling back the distance from Toby.
It worked, Toby was reigned in and the three paddlers came together. Not for long however, as the pace was pushed once again, and Toby and Liam pulled away.
From there, they went stroke for stoke, unable to be separated until the final moments- a sprint finish into the beach and up the sand. Liam was on his feet first and took his first ocean ski race victory, in a time of 1.52.10. Toby was 2nd and Tim Waller came home third.
Paul Moreno was next as the first masters (40-49years) paddler, followed by Vaughan Reed as the first 50-59 Master.
Dan Bremner and Amber Bonny took out the mixed double ski race followed by Callum O’Leary and Elora Hallett.
Tara Smith had a dominant paddle to take home the women’s trophy, with Danika Mowlem just under 2minutes behind in second place. After a strong start by Danika, the two women came back together at around the 7km mark. They worked together for a couple of kilometres before Tara picked up the pace. Danika could not respond and the gap grew. Tara never relinquished the lead and took a strong won, her first of the season.
Bryce Irving was first Waka-ama home finishing in a time of 2.06.13, with Mark Cresswell in second.
This was the first ocean ski race in Queenstown and organisers from the Southern Lakes Multisport Club were thrilled with the event. “The SLMC crew are buzzing after the inaugural Deepsouth Downdwind race. While the wind didn’t play ball on the day as much as it can in this area, we felt the event was a huge success and were grateful to see paddlers make their way to our playground from all over the country.” Said Alex Martin, one of the organisers.
This event was in response to the recent growth in interest in ski paddling in the south of the country, with the hope to showcase the downwind potential of the southern lakes.
“We are already seeing an increase in surf skis and downwinders in all crafts in our region and hope to grow this race and this epic sport further.”
After 3 races in the Darcy Price series, Toby Brooke has taken the overall lead in the Mens, with Ben Keys in 2nd and Liam Lace in 3rd (first U23). Tara Smith is on top of the womens table, with Danika Mowlem in 2nd and Carly Keys third. The next race in the series is the Queen and King of the Bay in Tasman this coming weekend.