Jamo Porter, Danika Mowlem win Poor Knights Crossing in NZ

Tuesday, 10 September 2019 18:50 | Written by 
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Paddlers approach the Poor Knights islands - in what has become one of New Zealand's iconic ocean races Paddlers approach the Poor Knights islands - in what has become one of New Zealand's iconic ocean races

An angry sea and some supercharged paddlers gave the 2019 Zest Brokers Poor Knights Crossing ocean paddle race a dramatic edge with race records tumbling thanks to strong tailwind conditions for the event held in Tutukaka, Aotearoa.

In steady 15 knot winds and boosted by following sea that started as a gentle assisting wind swell but finished in a confusing array of white capping waves, a collection of the best open ocean athletes in Australasia were in their element.


Line Honours

James Porter, an ocean ski paddler based on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, took line honours for the 28km course in 1:38:51, just a whisker short of claiming the course record set five years ago.


But the most impressive performance of the day came from Pawarenga’s waka ama paddler Conan Herbert who won out in a three way duel with his younger brothers Sean and Chase to set a new record of 1:50:56.

The Herbert brothers were locked in a fascinating tussle from the halfway mark, where the conditions were prime for downwind paddling. Conan managed to skip away with some impressive surfing skills, cruising up the field to finish in the top 20 overall.

Sean Herbert finished second, Aucklander Mark Malaki Williams third and Chase Herbert fourth.

Porter v Mowlem

Porter was virtually unchallenged at the front of the race though and displayed solid technique and fitness to power away from pre-race favourite, Andrew Mowlem who is New Zealand’s No.1 ranked oceanski athlete.

Porter put 600 metres on Mowlem in the final push to the finish line.


James "Jamo" Porter

“That was the best downwind race conditions I have ever experienced. I tried to pace myself at the start but the runners soon started jumping up and it was just great paddling from then on,” Porter said.

“I might have lost a little bit of time looking for the right route in the last kilometre too, so maybe I could have pushed that race record,” he said.

Porter and Mowlem are sure to clash again at The Doctor in Perth in November, a 27km race renowned for providing prime downwind conditions.

Women’s Race

Danika Mowlem revelled in the conditions, taking the win convincingly in the absence of two of the big names in NZ women’s paddling: Rachel Clarke and Teneale Hatton are both in France to compete in the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships.

“I had such a fun paddle,” she said. “It was my first time doing this race and it was awesome conditions that just got better and better, I was having a blast.”

It was Mowlem’s first Poor Knight’s Crossing.

danika Mowlem

Danika Mowlem - race face on!

Record Field

This year’s race, with a record field of 85 paddlers, started inside Tutukaka harbour and sent the competitors on a 28km journey out to a finish line on the eastern side of the Poor Knights Islands.


The event was not without drama though with several paddlers extracted from the ocean by the safety fleet following the race and one disorientated paddler plucked from the ocean after losing his oceanski.

Summary Results

Men's Surfski

1 James Porter 1h 38m 10s
2 Andrew Mowlem 1h 40m 5s
3 Andrew Newton 1h 42m 11s
4 Garth Spencer 1h 44m 25s
5 Sam Newlands 1h 45m 33s
6 Jeremy Kuggeleijn 1h 45m 36s
7 Tim McLaren 1h 48m 09s
8 Kees Ursem 1h 50m 23s
9 Reid Forrest 1h 50m 36s
10 Tom Ashley 1h 51m 52s


1 Conan Herbert 1h 50m 56s
2 Sean Herbert 1h 55m 12s
3 Mark Malaki-Williams 1h 59m 35s
4 Chase Herbert 2h 00m 07s
5 Poara Monk 2h 00m 43s
6 Lance Hibbert 2h 01m 17s
7 Kier Henry 2h 02m 09s
8 Mark Cresswell 2h 03m 20s
9 Jamille Ruka 2h 04m 00s
10 Rich & Ngaire Pehi 2h 04m 43s

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