Tough Race in NZ: Mowlem, Clarke Win Again

Sunday, 31 March 2019 18:50 | Written by 
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Andy Mowlem crashes over a wave on the upwind leg of the 2019 Vaikobi King and Queen of the Harbour in Auckland, New Zealand Andy Mowlem crashes over a wave on the upwind leg of the 2019 Vaikobi King and Queen of the Harbour in Auckland, New Zealand Credits: Vaikobi King and Queen of the Harbour

This was one of the toughest races I’ve done in a long time!”. When a campaigner like Oscar Chalupsky says that, you know the conditions must have been challenging. Chalupsky had been in New Zealand for a two-week trip, culminating in the Vaikobi King and Queen of the Harbour race in Auckland.

Tough Course

Given the forecast 20kt Northeaster, the race directors chose a 23km route known to the locals as the “Gnarly Northerner” from Whangaparaoa Peninsula on Auckland’s north shore to finish at Takapuna Boating Club.


The first leg of the course was a flat-out 3km grind into the wind and waves, and any thought of an easy downwind was quickly dashed as the paddlers rounded the buoy.

“Once we turned, I thought it would be an easy downwind,” said Chalupsky. “But I was mistaken!” In fact they were faced with almost side-on wind and waves, extremely testing, technical conditions.

Looking at some of the race tracks on Strava, you can see how they were catching runs by turning right and then working left to stay on course for Takapuna.


Walking away with it

Defending champion Andy Mowlem reached the turn-buoy first and simply paddled away from the rest of the field, finishing in 1:34:54, a massive 3 ½ minutes ahead of second placed Sam Mayhew.

mowlem downwind

Andy Mowlem hurtles downwind...

The real race was for second place; a tremendous dice between Mayhew, Toby Brooke and Oscar Chalupsky.

Takapuna club member Mayhew, with the benefit of local knowledge, took an inside line to the final turn and pipped Brooke by seven seconds with hard charging Chalupsky (“you can see from my heart rate that I pushed my hardest in a long while!”) just two seconds behind.

"Finally cracked the podium!" said an elated Mayhew on Facebook.  "2nd place at the King of the harbour which is also the NZ Ocean Ski Nationals!"

"6 years ago I started falling out of a SLS ski for the first time," he added, "and later that year I did my first king of the harbour. I was near last but I was hooked..."

In the women’s race, Rachel Clarke dominated, coming in 7th overall in the single skis with Rebecca Cole and Danika Mowlem coming in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

“VERY technical conditions out there today,” said Clarke, “… which I loved!”  It was Clarke's seventh win in this iconic event.

rachel clarke start

Rachel Clarke heads out into the chop at the start...

Canoe Racing New Zealand

Two major announcements were made at prize-giving by CRNZ’s CEO Tom Ashley:

  • A new surfski racing series named after KQoH founder Darcy Price was announced. 5-6 races around New Zealand incorporated selections for the ICF World Championships.
  • The next Vaikobi King and Queen of the Harbour will be held on November 30, 2019.

Results Summary - Surfski (Oceanski)

(Click here for the full results)


  1. Rachel Clarke (NZ) 1:41:27
  2. Rebecca Cole (NZ) 1:50:41
  3. Danika Mowlem (NZ) 1:59:25
  4. Lisa Gras (FRA) 2:05:40
  5. Anouk Strohmann (FRA) 2:12:20

women podium


  1. Andrew Mowlem (NZ) 1:34:54
  2. Sam Mayhew (NZ) 1:36:59
  3. Tobias Brooke (NZ) 1:38:33
  4. Oscar Chalupsky (POR) 1:38:35
  5. Samuel Newlands (NZ) 1:40:38

men podium

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