Orcas Join Poor Knights Crossing Race in NZ

Monday, 03 September 2018 11:46 | Written by 
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The stunning southern arch at the Poor Knights Island Marine Reserve provided the backdrop to the race finish. The stunning southern arch at the Poor Knights Island Marine Reserve provided the backdrop to the race finish. Credits: This image Dive! Tutukaka, all others, Poor Knights Crossing 2018

Sam Mayhew might have left it too late in the race to try to catch the eventual winner, Aussie Sam Djoden, but he did experience a proper adrenalin spike when a breaching orca landed right next to him…  The 2018 Zest Brokers Poor Knights Crossing lived up to the paddlers’ expectations – wildlife, exquisite scenery and hard racing…

Aussie Domination

Australian Sam Djodan led from start to finish on his ocean ski at the arrowhead of the 70-strong paddling fleet, showing his class on the 25km course from Tutukaka Harbour to the finish line through the Southern Arch at the Poor Knights Marine Reserve.

Sam Djodan

Aussie Sam Djodan, despite arriving minutes before the start, dominated the race!

Djodan was three minutes clear of the second placed ocean ski competitor, former race champion Simon Longdill of Auckland when he paddled through the stunning natural rock archway.  Sam Mayhew came in third, after his close encounter with the orca.

The orca…  “literally breached right in front and to my left and dived down under me,” said Mayhew. “No time to be afraid or anything, it was just absolute magic. The rest of the pod was 100m to my right but this one was right on me.  It was moving at speed to join the pod I think.”


A pod of orca provided excitement for spectators and paddlers alike!


For the first 45 minutes, the fleet enjoyed a SW tailwind, before it swung WNW, which made the conditions challenging from a technical point of view.  “It was slightly behind to the left,” said Sam Mayhew.  “so you could slide along and chase the bumps.”

Poor Knights Route

The Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve lies 25km off the coast of Northland, North Island, New Zealand


What a stunning venue!

Waka Ama

Kevin Jerusalamy, a highly ranked waka ama paddler from Tahiti, was locked in a titanic battle with Kaitaia’s Tupuria King from start to finish, and only managed to finish less than a minute in front to take the win in the waka ama division.

Kevin Jerusalamy

Kevin Jerusalamy

It was a brave effort from Jerusalamy who had struggled in relatively cold conditions.  He and King were paddling side by side for the entire race until the last 500 metre dash to and through the archway.

Race director Tim Eves said the event had lived up to high expectations with the battle in the waka ama division particularly engaging.

Zest Brokers

Results Summary

Ocean surfski: 

  1. Sam Djodan (Aust) 1h 51m 15s
  2. Simon Longdill (Akld), 1h 54m, 14s
  3. Sam Mayhew (Akld), 1h 54m 54s, 

Waka ama: 

  1. Kevin Jerusalamy (Tahiti), 2h 3m 12s
  2. Tupuria King (Kaitaia), 2h 3m 40s
  3. Stephen Roulton (Whangarei), 2h 4m 7s,


  1. Jan Dunlop (Akld), 2h 35m 55s
  2. Sam Johnson (Whangarei) 2h 36m 32s
  3. Jonno Leonard (Akld), 2h 46m 35s

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