A field of 90 ocean paddlers from throughout New Zealand and as far away as Australia hit challenging water conditions in an epic showdown over the weekend.

The paddlers encountered tailwinds of up to 30 knots during the Zest Brokers Poor Knights Crossing paddle race in Tutukaka on Saturday.

They started inside Tutukaka Harbour and raced to the finish line at the Poor Knights Islands.

Race director Tim Eves has a word with a member of the Coastguard Rescue before the races began.
Race director Tim Eves has a word with a member of the Coastguard Rescue before the races began.

This year's entry list included paddlers from Australia, Christchurch, Wellington, Gisborne, Tauranga, Raglan, Auckland and Northland.

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Richard Pehi finalising preparations before getting his waka ama into the water.
Richard Pehi finalising preparations before getting his waka ama into the water.

The event included a short-course option (14km) for the first time to help foster a new generation of paddlers who find the full course a bit daunting. The short course started at Matapouri and sent racers south to Wellington's Bay.

Coastguard members Karl Johnston, left, and Craig Walker keep a close eye on the water to ensure safety messages are followed.
Coastguard members Karl Johnston, left, and Craig Walker keep a close eye on the water to ensure safety messages are followed.

The long course event is also the first race in the new Darcy Price Memorial National series launched by Canoe Racing New Zealand last month. The Darcy Price series involves five ocean races around the country.

Guy Bowden on water patrol to ensure the race is incident-free in blustery conditions.
Guy Bowden on water patrol to ensure the race is incident-free in blustery conditions.

Northern Advocate chief photographer John Stone arrived early on Saturday and snapped a few photos.

Mike Williams from Tauranga was among 70 paddlers who pitted their skills against the challenging conditions on the water.
Mike Williams from Tauranga was among 70 paddlers who pitted their skills against the challenging conditions on the water.
The first lot of paddlers making their way to the race venue.
The first lot of paddlers making their way to the race venue.
Paddler Roz Barber from Hobart in Australia doing final checks on her waka ama.
Paddler Roz Barber from Hobart in Australia doing final checks on her waka ama.