Poor Knights Crossing 2019

Aotearoa’s toughest open ocean downwind race

The 7th Poor Knights crossing is a 30km open ocean downwind race open to surf skis, waka and SUPs. It is Aotearoa’s toughest open ocean downwind race. It runs from the Poor Knights Marine Reserve to Tutukaka, Northland, New Zealand and is hosted by Mitamitaga o le Pasefika Va’a-alo Canoe Club.

The testy waters and unpredictable wind swells make this an event unique on the calendar that will challenge paddling skills and endurance. It’s major sponsors are Zest Brokers and Dive! Tutukaka.

Maitahi entrants this year

This year Maitahi has a number of paddlers competing. Paddling OC1 are Zoe, Julie (2 of the 3 entrants for the Masters Womens), Seb, Sean and Tony (Masters Men), Kereama is paddling an OC2 with Chris Farmer from Christchurch (Open Mens), and Callum from Motueka is paddling either OC1 (Open Mens).

We wish you all the best and look forward to hearing about your adventures up there. Big kudos to Julie who is new to big water and OC1 paddling. Go you Gusty Girls!

This year the race started at Tutukaka Beach and waka, SUPs and surfskis raced out to Poor Knights Islands.

Our very own “Gutsy Girl” Julie

“Poor Knights Crossing – what an epic race! As a newbie to OC1 waka ama paddling, 30km from Tutukaka across to the islands was one hell of a test mentally, as well as physically. I battled with all sorts out there (talked to myself a lot!), didn’t capsize (which was amazing!), ached all over, cried when I got to the finish boat, and it felt bloody amazing!!!! Such an awesome race in truly beautiful deep blue water and surroundings. Loved it and will definitely be back again!

Waka travel logistics – just as amazing as the race! Teamwork at its best!
Julie Marriott

Photos for this year

  • Callum and a SUP paddler during the crossing
  • Start of the race @ Poor Knights Crossing 2019
  • Tony, Zoe & Julie ready to race @ Poor Knights Crossing 2019
  • Kereama & Chris during Poor Knights Crossing 2019
  • Steering required @ Poor Knights Crossing 2019
  • Emma at Poor Knights Crossing in the sinking barracuda OC2
  • Waka waiting to load on the support boats at the end of Poor Knights Crossing 2019
  • Chris Farmer happy to be there
  • Maitahi OC1s waiting to load @ Poor Knights Crossing 2019
  • Zoe getting ready to board safety boat @ Poor Knights Crossing 2019
  • Zoe finishes Poor Knights Crossing 2019
  • Sean waiting his turn to load waka @ Poor Knights Crossing 2019
  • Sean Happy to be back onboard
  • Julie and Tony waiting their turn to board and load the waka
  • Coming along side to load the waka
  • Gutsy Girl Julie happy to finish @ Poor Knights Crossing 2019
  • Safety boats @ Poor Knights Crossing 2019
  • Waka loaded for return trip from Poor Knights after Poor Knights Crossing 2019
  • Safety Boat loaded with waka after Poor Knights Crossing 2019
  • support boats and waka inside the sea cave @ Poor Knights Crossing 2019
  • Sean, Zoe & Seb made it to White Island @ Poor Knights Crossing 2019
  • Unloading the waka after Poor Knights Crossing 2019
  • Julie, Emma, Tony, Seb, Zoe & Sean, Maithais OC1 contingent @ Poor Knights Crossing 2019
  • Emma Fisher and the Barracuda
  • South Island waka trailer loaded and ready

The Details

Callum's details from the race
Callum’s details from the race

About the Race

30km open ocean downwind race

Depending on the wind direction the Waka (SUPs & Surskis) are either all loaded onto launches for the journey out to the cave start line or else they start at Tutukaka Beach and race to the Island. The long distance race starts/ or finishes inside Rikoriko Sea Cave.

Up to 100 paddlers are expected for the long distance event, including competitors from Christchurch, Nelson, Wellington, Tauranga and Auckland. There has also been regular entrants from Australia and through the pacific region.

Matapouri Reef Run (14km course)

This year a short 14km course coastal race has been added to the event for the less experienced competitors who find the prospect of paddling so far off-shore too daunting for their first race. So race director has added a short course race along the Tutukaka Coast in the hope of giving newer ocean paddlers a taste of open ocean elements.

“There has been a bit of work going on in the background examining participation levels and the diversity issues facing the sport at all levels. One of the issues identified was the distance of the events on offer and the barrier that presented to some who are new to the sport of ocean paddling.
Paddling on the open ocean can be very addictive and certainly exhilarating, but it can also be quite challenging. You need experience to master the skills needed, but to master the skills needed you need to experience it. I think the safest way to get experience is doing a race where there are fellow paddlers, safety boats and experienced event marshalls watching.
That’s exactly what the short course race, called the Matapouri Reef Run, will provide.”

Tim Eves – Race Director

“Wow what a ride…… Poor Knights Crossing 2019 was a race that for me tested all realms of my paddling abilities. Testing conditions but rewarded with quite possibly one of the best finish lines in the world!”
Chris Farmer

Emma Fisher attempted the Matapouri Reef Run in Maitahi’s old Barracuda (OC2), but had to pull out as the waka was gradually submerging!

Its never too early or too late to start paddling waka ama

We always welcome new members to the Maitahi Outrigger Canoe Club.
We have social and racing waka ama crews catering for a wide variety of ages and abilities.