Venue: Tutukaka, Northland, New Zealand Date:
Sat 2nd Sep 2017
Poor knights wrap up 2017
As the echo of a spine tingling waiata was still reverberating from the walls of Rikoriko Cave at the Poor Knights Islands, a nervous fleet of open ocean paddlers charged out of the safety of the world’s largest sea cave to tackle 30km of surging sea at this year’s Poor Knights Crossing race.
The waiata marked the start of what was an epic open ocean race where Taipa’s Sean Herbert proved his mettle with strong title win in the men’s waka division while Amanda Wheatley took out the women’s race with an equally dominant display.
It was quite a performance in very challenging conditions, with the race fleet greeted with a moderate tailwind coupled with a significant sea swell that threw up some big water.
Before starting at the world renowned Poor Knights Islands and Marine Reserve then tackling the 30km paddle back to the mainland, paddlers had already been tested during the ferry out to the start line.
Several hit the water feeling worse for wear, some never even got on their race craft as seasickness took hold travelling on one of the fleet of 10 boats that ferried the paddlers and their craft out to the startline. But once the race started it was all on.
Auckland’s Andrew Mowlem was never headed at the pointy end of the oceanski pack, nor were Herbert and Amanda Wheatley in the waka ama division or Mike Pirritt in the Stand Up race, but the battle for the minor placings was keen right to the finish line.
Garth Spencer was a clear second until Australian Todd Boreland charged past to take the silver in the oceanski race. Jamille Ruka and Richard Pehi were changing places in the battle for silver and bronze in the waka ama mens division while Ngaire Pehi and Hiria Rolleston were never more than a boat length apart either. Ruka nudged Pehi for silver but only just, then Rolleston won a sprint finish in the womens.
Pirrit put on a masterclass in the SUP race.
“This was a real ocean challenge that tested all the paddlers,” race organiser Tim Eves said. “Having the start inside Rikoriko Cave was a privilege and the sight of paddlers in big surging sea swell was inspiring. Experience on open waters was significant and showed in the results, I tip my hat to all the paddlers, they all challenged themselves,” he said.
“Planning for next year is underway too. September 1st next year. I might just take a break for a week or two though.”