20-Jun-2018 10:13 a.m.


With paddlers coming from as far afield as Australia to line up against our hot NZ talent, the 3rd annual NZ SUP festival will be an impressive show for beach-goers at the popular white sand beach of Orewa, north of Auckland, next weekend.

First to enter the event online was NZ Olympic gold-medallist sailor Jo Aleh, who has taken up paddle boarding for its tremendous cross-training benefits.  Jo has been picked up by Starboard NZ as a sponsored rider, and has been steadily picking off the competition on the weekly race circuit since her recovery from a broken foot before Christmas.  She and NZ and world series champion paddler Annabel Anderson will present a formidable force in the elimination heats battle on Sunday against top visiting Australian female paddlers Simone Horschfield and Sondra Purser.  The kiwi women should also have a good home advantage with local knowledge of challenging and deceptive conditions in the 15km Magrette downwind ocean race between Army Bay and Orewa Beach on Saturday.

Leading the mens elite race is current NZ title-holder 19-year old Marcus Hansen (Fanatic).  Marcus has had an impressive season to date, and is leading the results boards in two local Auckland race series.  Close rival JP Tobin (Naish) has overseas commitments so will be unable to race at Nationals, and leading 14'0 paddler Jeremy Stephenson (Starboard) is standing down this year due to injury, leaving the battlefield open for young newcomers James Turner (Starboard), Josh Nixon and Aussie Jake Jensen (Naish) alongside 2013 NZ Surf Race Champion Armie Armstrong (Starboard), and champion surfer and waterman Daniel Kereopa (Naish). 

Aside from two days of racing suitable for all levels of paddlers from novice to elite, the festival will also play host to a huge stand up paddle expo with free board demos, have-a-go sessions and public workshops from 8am-3pm on Sunday at Orewa Beach.  All NZ's leading SUP providers will be there, Starboard, Naish, WalkOnWater, SUPCentre, NZ Boardstore, Pau Hana, Red Paddle Co., R&R Sport, Flux, Morris Surfboards and more, and there will be expert tuition at free workshops throughout the day.

"This is the perfect opportunity for anyone at all interested in this explosive new sport to come and get on a board, take advantage of free expert advice on everything from paddle technique to choosing the right gear, and hopefully learn how to catch a wave," says event organiser Victoria Stuart.  "We'll have the tunes pumping, toys to play with and plenty of entertainment with knockout slalom style racing right there in front of the surf club." 

The event's also a fundraiser for the Orewa Surf Lifesaving Club, so there'll be a sausage sizzle, drinks and ice-cream available throughout the day, and at prizegiving we'll be presenting the surf club with a brand new Ocean Rescue Stand Up Paddle board to add to their rescue fleet.

This promises to be a great weekend to head north and checkout the best in NZ SUP. 

Saturday 23 February

15km Downwind Race Army Bay, Shakespear Regional Park to Orewa - 2pm race start

Sunday 24 February

1.5km Knockout heats slalom course racing at Orewa Beach 10am race start

500m Mixed relay 3pm start

Have-a-Go and SUP Expo 8am-3pm

Free Workshops: beginner SUP surfing with Armie Armstrong or Mike Cann, board construction with master-shaper Steve Morris, paddle technique with James Bradshaw, resistance band training to improve your skills with Al Pagel, SUP stances with Bill Dawes, an intro to downwinding with Jeremy Stephenson and more!  Download a full schedule of these 10-15min practical workshops here.

Prizegiving at Orewa Surf Lifesaving Club 5pm-6pm

NZ SUP Champs

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