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King of the Waitemata - Foiling Kites take on 18ft Skiffs over 34km

by Matt Taggart on 15 May 2017
King of the Waitemata Winner Matt Taggart - King of the Waitemata - May 2017 Mike Peffers Photography
The inaugural King of the Waitemata Regatta was held today, based out of the Takapuna Yacht Club.

The regatta is a counter clockwise, 34 kilometre circumnavigation of Auckland’s Rangitoto and Mototapu Islands open to any wind powered vessel. A number of trials had been run over the past 12 months indicating that a time of less than 60 minutes on a foiling kite could be achieved with the right wind conditions.

The regatta had been deferred several weeks due to poor conditions, but with the tail of Cyclone Donna forecast to deliver southerly winds over 20 knots, the decision was made to run it Saturday.

With Foiling Kites being slated as an exhibition event in the 2020 Olympics and a Medal Event in 2024, the regatta attracted New Zealand’s top kite foilers, including current New Zealand Champion, Sam Bullock and World Master’s Champion, and co-founder of Ozone Kites, Matt Taggart. Joining the foilers for the regatta were three high performance skiffs.

The race started at Bean Rock under blue skies with the forecast 20 knot southerly, making for a fast start for the fleet as they headed east towards Browns Island. The fleet quickly broke into several groups but it was clear the foiling kites were the ones to beat. Averaging over 25 knots the leaders quickly made their way around the back of Mototapu Island. On his foil specific Ozone R1 kite, Matt Taggart hit 58kph on the downwind leg.

Once the fleet rounded the lighthouse on the western most end of Rangitoto Island the progress and speed dropped considerably as they went into the southerly head wind, along with the outgoing tide. Some competitors elected to take long tacks out towards Takapuna, with the more the more daring taking lines closer to the lighthouse before tacking away to the west. Matt Taggart took the latter option but was slowed down by a wind shadow allowing Sam Bullock to close the large gap Taggart made on the downwind leg, resulting in a tacking duel between them to the finish line.

First across the line was Matt Taggart at a time of 58 minutes and 42 seconds, not only winning the regatta, but also achieving the sub one hour mark. Sam Bullock came home in second place just over the hour mark. Chris Kitchen rounded out the top three on his Kite Foil, beating veteran Michael Pepper by just one second. Team ASCC were the first Skiff, and crossed the line in a time of one hour and 55 minutes.

Along with the title of The King of Waitemata, the overall winner took home $1,000 kindly donated by Ozone Kite and Paragliding New Zealand, and ASCC won $250 for winning first in the skiff class.

With the sport of Kite Foiling on track to becoming an Olympic event, the sport is growing in New Zealand, and the sub one hour time being broken in the first regatta, next year’s event will be bigger, attracting more classes, and become an iconic fixture in New Zealand’s sailing calendar.

1. Matt Taggart 58min 42sec
2. Sam Bullock 1hr 04min 25sec
3. Chris Kitchen 1hr 13min 11sec
4. Michael Pepper 1hr 13min 12sec
5. Richard Bates 1hr 15min 17sec
6. Grant Payne 1hr 22mins
7. Joshua McCormack 1hr 28mins 50sec
8. Armie Armstrong 1hr 54mins 30sec
9. Glen 2hr 3mins 48sec
10. Darren Kennedy 2hrs 23mins 25sec

1. ASCC 1hr 55mins 0sec
2. Blue Boat 2hrs 24mins 30sec
3. White 2hrs 33mins 38sec

Hyde Sails 2021 - Basic FOOTERPantaenius 2022 - SAIL FOOTER NZBoat Books Australia FOOTER

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