World Triathlon Cup Napier
is not only the opening round of World Triathlon’s 16-stop, second-tier circuit, it’s the first chance of 2024 for athletes to improve their Olympic ranking both in Saturday’s individual sprint (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run) races and Sunday’s mixed relay.

The mixed relay is the penultimate chance (ahead of World Triathlon Championship Series  Abu Dhabi on March 8-9) for nations to lock in a spot for the XXXIII Olympiad – and with it two male and two female slots for the individual races in Paris. As such, the fields for Napier are strong and the racing sure to be fierce from the get-go.

NZL’s mixed relay ranking means they’re already a lock for Paris but there are many individual plot twists to play out, including the fight for the second male spot for the Olympics behind Kiwi No.1 Hayden Wilde. There will certainly be no easing into the season given the mad scramble for Paris points and the chance to impress the Tri NZ selection panel.

In addition to the elites, Napier is playing host to the Oceania Junior (U19) Championships with individual and mixed relay racing to mirror the World Triathlon Cup action.

From 8am on Sunday, the New Zealand Sprint Distance Championships will take centre stage. The Tri NZ Suzuki Series event doubles as a qualifier for October’s World Triathlon Age Group Championships in Malaga.


Race HQ is at Ahuriri Beach with the 750m ocean swim expected to be smooth after an unusual swell greeted athletes earlier in the week. The 20km bike circuit, four laps out to Port of Napier and back around Ahuriri, is fast, flat and technical, as is the two-lap, 5km run circuit. Entry is free.


Saturday, February 24
12:45pm: Oceania Junior (U19) Championship – Women
2:30pm: Oceania Junior (U19) Championship – Men
4:15pm: World Triathlon Cup Napier – Elite women
6:15pm: World Triathlon Cup Napier – Elite men

Sunday, February 25

8am: NZ Sprint Triathlon Championships (Tri NZ Suzuki Series)  – Men (8am), women (8:05am), teams (8:10am)
10:30am: Oceania Junior (U19) Mixed Relay Championships|
12:30pm: World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series Napier (Elite)

How can I watch?
Entry is free for those in the Hawke’s Bay so come along and roar the Kiwis on.
The elite and Oceania races will also be streamed live on TVNZ+ for those unable to attend.
Details of how you can watch all the world class racing can be found HERE.

World Triathlon Cup Napier – Briefing Notes

Wilde one and done
Napier is Hayden Wilde’s only confirmed short course race in New Zealand this season with his next appearance on home soil not till December’s Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Taupo. The Kiwi No.1 won World Cup New Plymouth in a canter 12 months ago and is again an unbackable favourite for Saturday’s race. Expect fireworks on the bike and that trademark run to shine through as the Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist looks to start his push to Paris on a winning note.

Kiwi No.2?
Tayler Reid will make his season bow in Napier and would love to repeat or even better his runner-up finish to Wilde in New Plymouth last season. While NZL hopes to qualify three males for Paris, the Gisborne 27-year-old knows he’s in a scrap with Dylan McCullough for the guaranteed second spot. Napier, then, marks the resumption of their battle within the battle. Will Reid benefit from coming in fresh or is McCullough sharper courtesy of his second placing at Oceania Cup Wanaka last Friday. We’ll have the first answer to a selection conundrum that has been raging for 18 months already by 7pm on Saturday. And then the friendly foes will be back at it on Sunday. More on the Mixed Relay soon. Other Kiwis in the men’s field are Trent Thorpe (11), Janus Staufenberg (16), Saxon Morgan (23), Lachland Haycock (33), Sam Parry (36), Henry McMecking (37), Ivan Abele (39) and James Corbett (40).

Our Hugo hunch
For a fleeting moment, when the World Triathlon start lists were first released, it seemed that Wilde’s great British rival Alex Yee might race in Napier. Sadly, that’s not the case but the man many rate as the ‘next Alex Yee’ will toe the Ahuriri Beach start line. Hugo Milner has made quite the splash since switching from running to swim, bike and run. You may recall the 25-year-old running down McCullough for is maiden World Cup win in Miyazaki last October. In December he returned to his roots to finish an impressive 4th at the European Cross Country Championships in Belgium. The boy can clearly shift so it will be fascinating to see which pack he comes out of the water in and whether he can stick close enough to give Wilde a run for his money.

Another Italian job?
Keep an eye out for Ilaria Zane and Alessio Crociani who made it an Italian double at Oceania Cup Wanaka last Friday. You rarely see Europeans in such impressive early season form but the rules of engagement are different in an Olympic year. To emphasise the step up in quality in Napier, Zane is ranked just fifth behind Gina Sereno (USA), Xinyu Lin (China), Zsanett Kuttor-Bragmayer (Hungary) and Australia’s Natalie van Coevorden. Crociani, meanwhile, is ranked 18th in the 43-strong men’s field. World No.2 Wilde is at the pointy end of a top five that includes Portugal’s Ricardo Batista, out-sprinted to silver by Reid in New Plymouth last year, McCullough, Hungarian Gábor Faldum and Reid.

Thorpe leads Kiwi charge
With New Plymouth 2023 winner and Kiwi No.1 Nicole van der Kaay training under new coach Paulo Sousa in Portugal,  Ainsley Thorpe assumes the top Kiwi ranking in Napier. Thorpe is ranked sixth for the start of what is a huge year as the Aucklander looks to seal her second Olympic selection after frustratingly crashing out in the wet in Tokyo. Southlander Olivia Thornbury, third at Oceania Cup Wanaka despite a rusty T2, will be looking for a clearer race to remind everyone again of her undoubted talent while Cantabrian Brea Roderick will be keen to kick on from her 8th place in Wanaka. There are a total of eight Kiwis in the women’s field of 40 with Eva Goodisson, Olivia Cummings, Hannah Howell, Sarah McClure and Amara Rae also racing.

Mixed Relay
Mixed Team Relay is fast and furious and will be doubly so in Napier on Sunday given it is the penultimate chance for nations to qualify for Paris. New Zealand’s spot for the XXXIII Olympiad is secure but who races in Paris is still up in the air. The Kiwis will also be keen to win a very rare MTR on home soil.
Read our explainer HERE.

Oceania Junior Championships
Check out the fields for the continental U19 championships HERE. Canterbury’s Ben Airey and Aussie Isla Watson are the respective No.1 sees with the highest ranked Kiwi in the women’s field being third-ranked Lucy Evans.

Age group epicness
It’s still not too late to enter the NZ Sprint Triathlon Championships on Sunday and race the same course as the pros. Entry details are available HERE.
If you need further inspiration, check out our story on Promo Joe from MediaWorks who has overcome a swimming phobia to sign up for the Tri NZ Suzuki Series event.

Stay tuned to Triathlon.kiwi for full coverage across the weekend.

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