Cathedral Cove Challenge (Sanctioned)

Venue: Buffalo Beach Reserve, Whitianga
Date: Sat 11th Nov - Sun 12th Nov 2017
Distance: 13km-22km W1/W6

Whitianga Community Waka Ama hosted the iconic Cathedral Cove Challenge over two days on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 November 2017. 

Competitors travelled to Whitianga from all over the area, including Paeroa, Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Whakatane, Rotorua, Tokoroa and Waiheke to participate in either the longer race on Saturday in W6, which are 6 person Waka Ama, or the shorter races on Sunday for the Junior or Novice teams, plus a 15 km race for W1 or W2 competitors.

The 25 km race was originally meant to go around the outside of both Center and Mahurangi Islands, however, due to the rough conditions, was shortened to 20 km, and hugged the coast line to Hahei and back.  7 W6 teams battled it out during the day on Saturday in grueling, windy and rainy conditions, and paddled against the wind, past Cathedral Cove, rounded a buoy off Hahei, and raced back downwind all the way back to Buffalo Beach.   "It was absolutely epic!", said Lisl Wollheim Jones, one of the members of the Waka Whiti mixed team, "I wouldn't have changed the conditions at all.  It was tough going all the way to Hahei, but great coming back downwind.  We raced hard, did our best, had fun, and were rewarded with winning the W6 Mixed team division. I especially enjoyed paddling out through the waves, and surfing back in!" 

The men's teams raced in the afternoon, and the winning team was 'Bhutty Boys' from Hei Matau.  The only ladies team to participate in the longer race was 'Loaded' also from Hei Matau. The prize-giving dinner, kindly sponsored by Richardson Real Estate Whitianga and Cooks Beach, was held at the Departure Lounge who provided a delicious buffet dinner for the well-deserving competitors. 

The next day of the event was calm and sunny, perfect conditions for the Junior and Novice teams, who raced 10 km out to Center Island and back.  'Heke High' a Junior U16 team from Waiheke Island, completed the race in 1 hour and 1 minute and were the overall winners of the race. There were two Junior U16 women's teams, 'Rongomaiwahine' and 'Taniwha', both from Nga Hau E Wha Waka Ama Club in Tokoroa.  The two teams battled it out but in the end 'Rongomaiwahine' beat 'Taniwha' by a mere 28 seconds!  Whitianga Community Waka Ama club had a Novice Women's team participating in the event,, and Miriam Dawson, member of the 'Waka Whiti Wahine'  Novice Women's team, said, "It was hard, but I'm so pleased I did it. I couldn't think of a better team to have paddled with!" 18 year old Anna Johnson, who has only been paddling with the club for a few months, did an amazing job of calling the changes and kept the team going with her words of encouragement.

The next race was the single waka ama 15 km race, with a course which went past Shakespeare Cliff to Cathedral Cove and back, and the line honours were taken out by Paul Roozendal, W1 Men's Champion.  The W1 women's champion was Alisa Prendergast from Tarawera Outrigger Canoe Club in Whakatane, who was the only women to compete in the event.   The prize-giving was held at the Buffalo Beach Reserve immediately after the event and all winners of the races that day, had their names put into a draw, and lucky Phillip Prendergast from Tarawera Club in Whakatane, won one of the top prizes, a trip on the adrenaline filled 'Excess' the ex-America's Cup foiling catamaran that will soon be operating in Mercury Bay.  Erin Matangi, newest member of the Whitianga Community Waka Ama club, won an ama for a single person outrigger canoe, which was donated by Fai Va'a.  She kindly decided to donate the ama back to the club who plan to possibly fund-raise to buy the W1 to match it. Club President Peter Corbishly said, "The Whitianga business community have been incredibly generous in their support of the Cathedral Cove Challenge.  We have had so many amazing prizes donated to us, and we are very appreciative.  We would especially like to thank the Coastguard, Hot Water Beach Surf Life Saving, and the other support boats that helped out over the weekend.  We could not have run the event without them. We are delighted that Richardson Real Estate in Whitianga and Cooks Beach have come on board as a major sponsor of the Cathedral Cove Challenge and we can only see the event increasing every year with more paddlers coming from around New Zealand to compete." 

All photos have been posted on the Cathedral Cove Challenge page on Facebook

Whitianga Community Waka Ama are once again hosting the iconic Cathedral Cove Challenge on 11 and 12 November 2017.  The 25 km race on Saturday is the highlight of the event, and takes you through stunning scenery!  The course starts with a beach start from Buffalo Beach, around Center Island,  and then Mahurangi Island off Hahei, past the beautiful Cathedral Cove and back past Shakespeare Cliff to Buffalo Beach again.  There is a prize-giving and dinner in the evening, and the cost of the meal is included in the race fee for participants.  Sunday features a 15 km race for W1, W2, Kayak, SUP and Surfski, plus a 10 km race for Juniors and Novices.  There will be another prizegiving immediately after this event.

There will be lots of amazing trophies, prizes and heaps of spot prizes including:

  • A brand new Ama for a W1, kindly donated by Fai Va’a

  • 1 exciting trip for 1 adult on Excess, a Foiling Catamaran worth $230, donated by Boom Sailing

  • 1 trip for 2 adults on the Glass Bottom Boat worth $190

  • 1 Sailing Adventure for 2 adults on Fully Charged Sailing Catamaran worth $190, donated by Boom Sailing

  • 2 All day passes to the Lost Spring Luxury Thermal Spa worth $140

  • 12 bags of delicious chocolates kindly donated by Chocolates Are Us

  • 18 boxes of embossed chocolates donated by Chocolates Are Us

  • Pizza Vouchers, Cafe vouchers, Manuka Honey, Activity vouchers, First Aid Kits, T-Shirts, Caps, a Compass, a Change Bag and lots more!!

Online Entries:

Contact Details

Name: Milan Lukic


  1. Event Team Waiver.pdf
    0.11 MB
  2. Event Individual Waiver.pdf
    0.08 MB
  3. Whitianga Cathedral Cove Challenge 2017 (1).pdf
    1.12 MB
  4. Cathedral Cove Challenge 2017 Results.png
    0.13 MB

4621 paddlers have looked at this page