In brief: Tahiti’s Niuhiti Buillard and hometown world number one Annabel Anderson have taken out the 2016 King & Queen of the Harbour race in Auckland, New Zealand.
The annual SUP and surfski race is billed as a downwinder, however this year the water was almost dead flat, making it an absolute grind along the 23km course between Auckland and Waiheke Island (though it was probably a km or two shorter judging by the times).
Niuhiti crossed the line in 1:47:32, just half a minute ahead of JP Tobin, while Sam Thom rounded out the podium a further minute adrift.
Annabel comfortably took out the women’s, finishing 10 minutes clear of runner-up and fellow Molokai podium-getter Penelope Strickland. However just like she’s done so many times before, Annabel also beat home most of the men. Her time of 1:49:38 was just half a minute shy of the men’s top three, and it was only two minutes off the winning pace. For a near-two hour race, that’s mighty impressive.
There was also another in-form stand up paddler on the podium, only in a different division; Michael Booth, the Aussie dark horse that’s been on an unstoppable run lately, finished second in the men’s surfski race (just seconds behind the winner). Boothy has a strong background in ocean ski racing, which helps explain the Starboard team rider’s meteoric rise through the ranks of the SUP racing world.
2016 King & Queen of the Harbour: Overall Top 10
Boards: 14′ for both men and women
1st: Niuhiti Buillard (1:47:32)
2nd: JP Tobin (1:48:01)
3rd: Sam Thom (1:49:02)
4th: Annabel Anderson (1:49:39) *Women’s champ
5th: Graeme Sutherland (1:49:59)
6th: Marcus Hansen (1:52:39)
7th: Troy Huston (1:56:48)
8th: Penelope Strickland (2:00:57) *Women’s runner-up
9th: Matt Anderson (2:02:55) *12’6
10th: Blake Richardson (2:03:41)
Below: Annabel Anderson with the biggest SUP trophy I’ve ever seen…