Raglan kite foiler Matt Taggart was crowned King of the Waitemata last Saturday after beating New Zealand’s current foiling champion to win the inaugural regatta in Auckland’s North Shore.
The King of the Waitemata Regatta, a counter clockwise, 34 kilometre circumnavigation of Rangitoto and Mototapu Islands, was open to any wind-powered vessel and attracted New Zealand’s top kite foilers.
Taggart, owner and co-founder of Ozone Kites and a world masters kite foiling champion, was the only competitor to complete the course in under one hour.
A number of trials run over the past 12 months had indicated that a time of less than 60 minutes on a foiling kite could be achieved with the right wind conditions, and the regatta had been postponed by several weeks due to poor conditions.
Joining the foilers for the regatta were three high performance skiffs.
A 20 knot southerly made for a quick start in the race, and the fleet quickly broke into several groups.
It was clear that 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, Taggart hit 58kmh on the downwind leg.
But, rounding the western most end of Rangitoto Island, progress and speed dropped considerably for the competitors as they went into a head wind and contended with the outgoing tide.
Some competitors took long tacks out towards Takapuna, with more daring taking lines closer to the island before tacking away to the west.
Taggart took the brave option but was slowed down by a wind shadow allowing current New Zealand champion kite foiler Sam Bullock to close the large gap between them, resulting in a tacking duel to the finish line.
Taggart crossed the line first in 58 minutes and 42 seconds, achieving the sub one hour mark.
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 was the first skiff, and crossed the line in one hour and 55 minutes.
Kite foiling is on track to become an Olympic event and the sport is growing in New Zealand.
Hence, the King of Waitemata organisers expect next year’s event will be even bigger, attracting more classes, and become an iconic fixture in New Zealand’s sailing calendar.