Ben Fouhy Crowned King Of The Harbour 2013

Sunday, 07 April 2013 12:28 | Written by 
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The start of the 2013 King Of The Harbour, the premium surfski event of New Zealand. The start of the 2013 King Of The Harbour, the premium surfski event of New Zealand. Credits: Pip Arnold, 2013

Ben Fouhy, showing great form, took out last Saturday's King of The Harbour in Auckland, in mild conditions. The confused harbour and weather conditions caused race director Terry Newsome some angst, the wind swinging from SE, to SW to back to SE again a few hours before the race start. He finally opted for the Waiheke back to Birkenhead course, and ultimately did well in securing a predominantly downwind course for the field of 67 ski paddlers plus Stand Up Paddle-boarders.                       

The Field

The premier surfski event of New Zealand is also the New Zealand Coanoe Racing Ocean Ski Champs, and attracted 6 overseas paddlers, including 4 Tahitians, adding some colour to the proceedings. Multiple-previous KoH champion, Olympian Mike Walker showed good form, making a break early into the race, about 4km’s out of Matiatia bay on Waiheke Island. Going with him was Marty McDowell and Ben Fouhy, and with the flat conditions favouring Ben, Mike knew he would have to work hard to notch up another victory.

 King of the Harbour 2013

The frenzied start at Matiatia see Mike Walker (green Nelo), Ben Fouhy (Epic V10, blue shirt) and womans champion Rachel Clarke vying for a spot on the pack. Your Honourable Narrator, in the red-nosed Sharpski, can also be seen giving it horns, with characteristic (but sadly unsubstantiated) optimism!

We caught up with Ben after the race: “My strategy was to not start too hard, get on the back of the front pack, and wait for natural attrition to take care of things. After the first 5 km’s the front group splintered up a bit with the small surges coming through, and then it just Marty (McDowell), Mike (Walker) and myself. Mike opted for a further south course than us. At first the gap didn’t really start off as much, but this quickly got wider and wider and when I looked up Mike was quite a bit further south than us, and was starting to get further and further ahead, which was a bit concerning!”

 King of the Harbour 2013

Starters jostle with pre-race humour as they prepare for the start at mild-weathered Matiatia. (Closer inspection would see the goose-bumped Tahitians frantically donning their newly purchased Sharkskin paddlewear!)

Local Knowledge?

Ben was right to be worried: Mike grew up on Waiheke Island, and probably has paddled the stretch of water between Matiatia and Auckland more than anyone else.  Besides for his love for competitive paddling on the world stage, Mike used to help out running kayak tours for the family business around Waiheke’s waters.

 King of the Harbour 2013

A relaxed looking Ben Fouhy, NZ’s Olympic Medallist in the K1 1000m event, on the Fuller’s sponsored ferry on the way over to the start on Waiheke Island. A rare example of successful crossover paddling, Ben has just been selected to represent NZ in the K1 1000 for the World Cup in Germany in August.

“At this stage I had to put a bit more work into it, and started picking up a few more runs, and started to gain some ground, which started to pay off. I also think many people underestimated the current running from North to South (at the approach to Devonport) as the tide was coming in.” This would prove the winning choice, enough for Ben to cross the line at Birkenhead with 29 seconds over local boy and long time rival/team-mate Mike Walker.

The Course

In what has become a favoured course for this event, Waiheke Island once again hosted the start of the race. The predominant spring SW’s and late summer NE’s make this a logical choice for and Auckland -> Waiheke or Waiheke -> Auckland course respectively. A new twist this year, brought about by a venue clash for the Auckland ITU, was the Birkenhead finish location, which worked well.

 King of the Harbour 2013

My GarminConnect trace, showing a pretty direct line over the 24.29km course. I managed to pick up a few solid little runs through the Motiuhe Channel, and surf these almost to the harbour approach, notching up a few sub 4-minute km’s in the process. Many paddlers, including Ben Fouhy opted for a slightly Northly course on the harbour approach, to take advantage of the incoming tidal current.

 King of the Harbour 2013

Competitors line up Auckland’s iconic Sky Tower on the harbour approach. Ben and Mike can be seen tussling it out up front in the distance, with the chase packs working the mild following sea hard to slow the growing gaps.

The Womens Race

Rachel Clarke took out the womens race in fine form, securing the Queen Of the Harbour title. Silver went to young Becs Cole, and former Olympian and evergreen Dene Simpson took the bronze. The womans was a very close finish, with only minutes seperating the top 4.

King of the Harbour 2013

Simon McLarin (Right) narrowly outsprinted me at the finish,with Simon rounding out the top 10, and bagging the gold medal for first Vet Men.


King of the Harbour and Canoe New Zealand Ocean Racing Championships


King of the Harbour 2013



Place Name  Division
 1 Rachel Clarke Women
 2 Rebecca Cole U23 women
 3 Dene Simpson Women
 4 Steph Parker U23 women
 5 Sarah Wison Women


Place Name
 1 Ben Fouhy Open men
 2 Mike Walker Open men
 3 Marty McDowell Open men
4 Travis Mitchell Open men
5 Simon Longdill Open men
6 Tim Grammer Master men
7 Andrew Mowlem Open men
8 Tim McLaren Open men
9 Oskar Stielau Master men
10 Simon McLarin Vet men
11 Garth Spencer Master men
12 Glen Gray  Double
13 Tapa Leopold Open men
14 Grant Heim Vet men
15 Lance   Roozendaal Double
16 Tamas Pinter Open men
17 Craig Jones Open men
18 Robbie Ford Open men
19 Sam Dillon Master men
20 Ian Mercer Master men
21 Gerry Callebaut Master men
22 Jeremy Kuggeleijn Open men
23 Sven Hansen Vet men
24 Robert Askew Vet men
25 Zac Franich Open men
26 Chrisq Borchardt Master men
27 Tim Eves Master men
28 Sean Murphy Master men
29 Jonathan Savigny Open men
30 Peter Dallimore Vet men
31 Brent Clode Master men
32 Andrew Czar Master men
33 John Sokolich Vet men
34 Olson Marama Open men
35 Cam Scott Master men
36 Andy Logue Open men
37 Paul Gillard Vet men
38 Wayne Jones Vet men
39 Craig Somerville Open men
40 Andrew Sneddon Master men
41 Mark Van Den Anker Vet men
42 Simon Koller Vet men
43 Rodney Russell Open men
44 Craig McLeod Master men
45 Sebastien Mosole Master men
46 Warwick Smith Vet men
47 Mark Bryant Vet men
48 Neil Taylor Vet men
49 Mike Hall Master men
50 Andrew Roy Master men
51 Alan Williscroft Vet men
52 Herman Rooseboom Master men
53 John Barker Open men
54 Mark Roozendaal Open men
55 Paul Hudson Master men
56 Pierre Chemaly Vet men
57 Mike Steward Master men
58 Paul Gardiner Master men
59 Alex Walton Open men
60 Anthony Blyth Master men
61 Ted Hughes  Double
62 Doc Godfrey Vet men

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