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Tight Tasman tussles ensured at 2022 Ocean Racing Nationals

The country’s best ocean paddlers will be fighting it out for the National title at the 2022 NZ Ocean Racing National Championships in Nelson this weekend.

After a covid-disrupted season, most of the big names are lining up against each other for the first time this summer, for two days of racing in the stunning Tasman Bay. Over 70-paddlers have entered the 14th 'Queen & King of the Bay' ocean paddling race from Kaiteriteri Beach to Māpua Wharf, a 26km race along the coastline of Motueka, Kina Beach and Ruby Bay. This race doubles as the 2022 NZ Ocean Racing Nationals and is a selection event for the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships.

Local Nelson paddler Tara Smith will be looking to retain her Queen of the Bay crown and become the 2022 National Champion

In the female race, we will have a new National Champion for the first time in 10 years, with 10-time successive winner Rachel Clarke unable to race. Look for last season’s Darcy Price series winner Danika Mowlem, Olympian Anne Cairns, Taranaki’s Rebecca Cole, local girl Tara Smith and Ocean Ski Canterbury’s Carly Keys to be battling it out at the front. These ladies haven’t been on the same start line in a while, so will be fascinating to see who is in form and chasing the championship.

It is a mouth-watering line up in the men’s race. Reigning National Champion Tupu King is looking to retain his crown, but will likely be challenged by 2x Darcy Price series winner Ben Keys and last year’s winner Toby Brooke. Garth Spencer, fresh off an overall win at the Bhutty Moore race, will also be pushing the pace and hoping to show the young guns how it is done.

Will Tupu King claim his first King of the Bay win and retain his National Surfski Title?

With light winds forecast, flatwater specialists Liam Lace and Ben McCallum will be looking to put on a strong performance and challenge for the top spots.

“The storms and cyclones seem to have passed and Tasman Bay has returned to what it’s renown for, blue sky, sunshine, and for ocean paddlers, sea breezes and waves” said event organiser Nathan Faa’vae. “The Nelson Surfski Club is very active and has grown significantly in recent years, the local paddlers are excited and ready to welcome the visitors to the region.”

“Paddlers can expect a scenic paddle in one of the most beautiful places in NZ. The event course links two iconic destinations and attractions, so when the paddlers are not on water, there is a lot of enjoy off the water as well.”

Paddlers will be backing Saturday’s race up with a new event on the Sunday - The Abel Tasman Islands race, a 25km race from Awaroa Beach to Kaiteriteri. The Abel Tasman National Park is a world class sea kayaking destination and this will be a memorable day on the water for all paddlers.

The Queen and King of the Bay is the 4th event in 2021/22 Darcy Price NZ Ocean Racing series, made up of the premier surfski races around Aotearoa New Zealand. A paddler’s best 4 races will count towards the series results, with a prize-giving at the final event. Covid restrictions since August have seen events cancelled, postponed and run with restricted numbers, and less people traveling to events as normally expected, so it will be great to have most of our community coming together this weekend to share their love of paddling, and some healthy competition.

For full event details, check out



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