Pacific Tour 2016 – Poor Knights and Maraamu

Thursday, 09 June 2016 16:29 | Written by  Tim Eves
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Michael Booth - winner of 2015 event finishes in the spectacular Rikoriko Cave at the Poor Knights... Michael Booth - winner of 2015 event finishes in the spectacular Rikoriko Cave at the Poor Knights...

3 September 2016: the toughest open ocean race in New Zealand: the Poor Knights Crossing. 10 September: arguably the most beautiful downwind in the South Pacific – the Maaramu Race in Tahiti. What’s not to like?

Scheduling the third running of the New Zealand’s 30km Poor Knights Crossing Oceanski and Waka Ama downwind paddling event for early September is giving diehard ocean paddlers the unique chance to experience two internationally rated events the south pacific waters on consecutive weekends.

Testy Waters

The Poor Knights Crossing, which includes a 24km open ocean section on some testy waters on New Zealand’s northern Pacific Ocean coastline, is set for the first week of September, just seven days before the Maraamu race in Tahiti.  

It's an opportunity Poor Knights Crossing race director Tim Eves hopes will tempt paddlers to venture from waters afar, with hopes of attracting paddlers from Australia top of his wishlist along with competitors from South Africa’s surfski hotbed.

Mind Blowing

“In tailwind conditions it won’t be a slog,” Tim explains, “I’ve been out there in conditions that are quite mind blowing from a downwind paddling perspective. There are ramps of waves just lined up and they just keep coming.”

“Really, I just have this desire to have paddlers from anywhere on the planet get the chance to dip their blades in these waters, and maybe having two top races on the menu could be the carrot to get them here.”  

The opportunity to get some true blue ocean downwind paddling action is proving to be a tantalising temptation as spots in the third annual Poor Knights Crossing are already starting to fill.

Poor Knights Islands

Limited Ferry Spots

A growing list of paddlers in both disciplines (ocean ski, waka ama) are booking limited spots on the ferry craft as they eye the chance to paddle from an internationally renowned marine sanctuary back to one what has been rated by National Geographic as one of the top ten most scenic coastal settings at the finish line inside Tutukaka Harbour.

Last year’s champions, Australian Michael Booth (ski), Kiwi Rachel Clarke (ski) and waka ama powerhouse Tupu King are all set to line up.

There is a unique list of prizes up for grabs this year, including Poor Knights lillies (a plant unique to the islands) from event sponsors Tawapou Coastal Natives and unique art work of the islands from Tutukaka artist Steve Moase.

rachel clarke

Rachel Clarke, winner of the women's race in 2015

Ideal Conditions

Dogged by a weather bomb in its first year the race was then blessed with ideal ocean racing conditions last year. This year Tim Eves added more race course options to all but guarantee downwind racing and built custom designed craft racks to help ensure the race runs as seamlessly as possible.

“We all learned some valuable lessons when the race fleet was greeted with 40 knot winds and 6 metre seas in year one. We needed what we thought were robust systems to be upgraded even further and have set about doing just that,” Tim said.

Safety Paramount

“Safety is always paramount but the appetite from the paddlers to test themselves in big water was a big factor in our planning. Those who brave the conditions come back exhilarated.”
Mystery and Spiritual Significance

The Poor Knights Islands provides a mythical aspect to the race, including a race start inside the world’s biggest sea cave (Rikoriko Cave), a paddle through massive natural rock archways before the race fleet even start the 24km to the finish line.

The history of the Poor Knights Islands is fascinating - the site of an infamous 1820 Maori massacre, and a place shrouded in mystery and spiritual significance to this day, the Islands act as a focus point for all who live in the area.

Sponsored by Strongarm, Power in the Water, Dive! Tutukaka, Tawapou Coastal Natives, Yachtbot GPS Trackers and Moana Nui, the event is set for Saturday, September 3. Entries close on August 20.

Race Info

Race director Tim Eves, a keen surf ski paddler and multisporter, had long believed a race from the Poor Knights Islands to Tutukaka Harbour could be a successful event. The chance to paddle inside a world-renowned marine reserve and the challenge of a downwind dash across what can be a very moody piece of water were two classic ingredients.

"Paddling there is a privilege for a start, then comes the challenge of making it safely back to Tutukaka."

Paddlers will be ferried out to the start line by Dive! Tutukaka and escorted home by the seven boats in the Dive! Tutukaka fleet.

All paddlers will be vetted before entry is accepted, with evidence of open ocean paddling a requirement for registration. Paddlers can submit their names for registration by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The event has five different course options to ensure a majority of downwind racing, but all efforts will be made to stage the race over the preferred Poor Knights to Tutukaka course or, in a westerly, from Tutukaka Harbour to a finish line inside Rikoriko Cave at the Poor Knights.

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