Ocean Race: Paddle race honours friend lost at sea

It may be five years coming up since popular young outrigger canoe enthusiast James Moore drowned but the memory of that tragic event lives with Paul Roozendaal.

He was with his late friend James, paddling from Maketu to the Mount, when some freaky fierce winds took him away from the group he was with and he died, at the age of 34.

To mark his mate's passing, since 2009 Roozendaal has organised a 30km race between Maketu and Pilot Bay that has become a special event on the national outrigger canoe circuit.

"What we want to achieve in this race is we want people to come and, if they knew James, it is a bit of time that they can spend on the water and reflect with James, and how they miss him, on that course," Roozendaal said.

"I've had people who didn't even know James come up to me and say they felt like they knew him after racing.

"So we have a lot of talks about him before the race so everyone knows about him, but it is also how to be safe on the water.

"We are expecting around 100 competitors on Saturday, which is more than last year, and it is looking like it will be a southeasterly, which means we will go from Maketu to Pilot Bay.

"That is the course that James and I did before he died, so it always ideal to go in the direction."

The race is much longer than most other ocean events for outriggers, surf skis and paddle boards, which Roozendaal says is because he wanted it to represent James and how he was always pushing hard.

"A lot of people prefer to do it as a team, as it is too hard, but we want people to try and be like James and go by yourself, and go longer and longer to go better and better.

"We make sure everyone has all the safety gear and letting them get experience of going out on the ocean and being in a safer environment.

"We have a good support crew from Kingfisher Boats and the Maketu Sea Rescue help us as well." The Champions Cup race has grown to be what Roozendaal says is the biggest and most popular of its type in the country.

"It seems to be the people's choice, the favourite, and we get a lot of support from the sponsors here who provide a lot of spot prizes.

"I just set up a race day and everyone turns up - its the people that make the race great."

The Champions Cup is expected to finish at Pilot Bay just after 1pm, with the first surf ski and outrigger canoes due about the same time in what will be a spectacular site for spectators.

There will be other craft in the water this weekend with paddle boards, open double outrigger canoes and double surf skis in action.

On Sunday, there is an intermediate standard race, the Maunganui Beach Relay Race, which is better suited to novice paddlers. Competitors will meet from 9am at the James Moore Memorial seat located up on the shore, looking out over the spot where James drowned to the left side of Leisure Island.

Race details:

Saturday, 30km Champions Cup Race

10.45am Stand up paddle boarders start

11.00am Outrigger canoes start

11.15am Surf skis start

Sunday, 12km Maunganui Beach Relay Race

10.30am Surf skis start, followed by outrigger canoes and stand up paddle boards

- Bay of Plenty Times

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