The toughest ocean paddling event on Aotearoa's racing calendar has got a significant boost with Zest Brokers Insurance and Mortgages company signing on as the naming rights sponsor, and it could be a deal that ensures the event has a strong future.
Under the terms of the partnership, Zest Brokers will be the headline sponsor of the Poor Knights Crossing event joining long term event supporters Dive! Tutukaka, Strongarm and Moana Nui.
For Zest Brokers director Tim Anderson the event was an ideal vehicle to promote his business. After being introduced to the world of ocean paddling he has become intrigued by the challenges the race presents.
"When the opportunity came up to be involved with such a prestigious event we jumped at it," Anderson said.
"We love supporting local events, in particular those that are active and outdoorsy. Obviously we'd be thrilled if the paddling fraternity chose to use us for their insurance, mortgage and banking requirements! So please don't be shy about asking us for help."
It is a coup for race director Tim Eves, who has a passion for ocean paddling and was eager to cement a naming rights sponsor for the race now in its fifth year.
"I have got to know the team at Zest Brokers quite well and they share our values in relation to creating opportunities, healthy competition, integrity and respect. So the signing of the Zest Brokers contract as the naming rights sponsor of the series was a cool fit for both parties," Eves said.
"The aim with this race is not just to highlight to the general public just how exciting offshore racing is but give paddlers and supporters to experience the jewel in the crown of this event, the Poor Knights Islands," he said.
This year's event will be held on Saturday, September 1 and will once more include all three major ocean paddling disciplines, surf ski, waka ama and stand up paddle boards (SUP).
In ideal conditions, competitors and race craft are ferried out to the Poor Knights Marine Reserve on board Dive! Tutukaka boats and race a 30km course back to the finish line inside Tutukaka Harbour.
But as the weather and sea state are unpredictable beasts on the picturesque Tutukaka Coast, there are several race course options depending on the prevailing winds.
Paddlers could end up paddle out to the Poor Knights and get ferried back or may even get to experience other secluded parts of the Northland coastline if conditions dictate a different game plan on race day.
"Whatever happens, there are a myriad of options no matter what Tawhirimatea and Tangaroa throw at us on the day," Eves said.
Race entries are now open.