Close to 50 paddlers frothed over some of the best downwind conditions Wellington has to offer, at the 2nd annual Windy City Downwind hosted by Kupe Canoe Club on Saturday.
This event, the second in the 2022/23 Darcy Price NZ Ocean Racing series, is scheduled to make the most of the Spring Northerlies that Wellington is famous for, and conditions did not disappoint. The top paddlers completed the 11km Petone to Seatoun course in around 42 minutes, averaging close to 16km/hour.
Toby Brooke surfing down a wave
It was a tight battle at the front of the field with less than 30seconds separating the top 3 men, but current National Ocean Ski Champion Ben Keys pulled away at the end, just ahead of Toby Brooke, who took off his race organiser hat to line up. Tim Waller, recently home after his adventures at the Marathon Worlds and Ocean Ski Worlds, finished in 3rd.
“The kayak boys got away quick off the start, but Toby and I came through once we turned the first buoy and got into the downwind, and Tim was hanging in there as well. It was pretty even from there, but once I sighted the finish (lesson learned from last race) I put the hammer down and got the gap for the win.” said Ben with a laugh, referencing his Poor Knights race where he mistakenly went into the wrong bay at the end.
Just a couple of waves separated Ben Keys and Toby Brooke in the final stages of the Windy City Downwind.
Jonty Laver was 4th overall and 1st under 23, followed by Liam Lace. Reid Forrest from Nelson was 1st Master home. Noah Andrews from Waitara was first junior (U19).
Joern Scherzer was first waka ama home in 46.53, followed by Eric Waterson-Holland then Courtney Higgins.
In the women’s ski race, Auckland’s Danika Mowlem led around the first can and never relinquished the top spot to take home the title. Tara Smith was 1 minute back, with Carly Keys a further 90seconds behind. Poppy Barnes at just 15years old was 1st female junior followed by Kyra Addison. Anne Cairns, the multi-discipline queen, was first female waka ama.
“This was my first time paddling in Wellington and it lived up to its reputation.” said Danika. “It was some of the best downwind conditions we have had in a major race in a long time. Awesome effort by the race organisers to get it away and everyone home safely and with big grins for the most part.”
The local Flannery brothers won the double ski race, with Carbonology pair Dan Bremner and Elora Hallet taking out the mixed double division.
As always, a massive effort from the Kupe Canoe Club organising team to put this race on so thank you to them, the sponsors and everyone who came along and paddled.
The Darcy Price NZ Ocean Surfski Series is the national ocean racing series comprising of the premier ocean ski races around Aotearoa. The 2022/23 series is made up of 8 events and a paddler’s best 4 races will count towards the series results. Check out series details, upcoming races and latest results here
Photos - Welly Paddlers.