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Back-to-back Illovo Wall and Back wins for Krieger & Ward

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – A warm evening greeted participants of Friday’s second race of the 2016 Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back Surfski Series at Suncoast Pirates Lifesaving Club on Durban’s beachfront, a clash ultimately won by Wade Krieger and Jenna Ward respectively.


With another richly talented field on the start line, race one winners Krieger and Ward were in for a tough tussle at the front of the men’s and women’s race respectively however the pair overcame the conditions and their rivals to each claim their second victories of the six-leg series.

“I’m really happy with the way I’m paddling at the moment and I felt really good on the day, so it was nice to get another win and it’s been pleasing to start the Wall and Back series strongly,” said Gravity Sports/Epic Kayaks’ Krieger.

In the testing conditions, Krieger edged out evergreen powerhouse and regular top performer, Epic Kayaks’ Matt Bouman while Pirates local lad and Bay Union/Fenn Kayaks athlete Luke Nisbet charged home to collect third place.

“The surf was up so you had to be really focused and pick your line through the wavezone quite carefully,” explained Krieger. “Fortunately I managed to get out first, about twenty metres ahead of Matt.”

“He then closed that gap on the leg down to the harbour wall and it was even as we turned.

“As we went around the buoy though, Matt got stuck on the buoy’s rope and fell out, so I stopped to help him get his paddle back.

“On the way home we had the wind behind us and I knew Matt would be dominant in those conditions, but I managed to keep up with him.

“When we came around the last can before the finish, Matt got onto a wave first and so I committed to a pretty big wave, which helped me catch back up to Matt.”

While the vastly experienced trio of lifesaving and surfski stars battled it out up front for the podium places, two talented young juniors were locked in a race of their own a little further back.

Carbonology Sport’s Bailey de Fondaumiere went on to clinch the Junior Boys’ spoils and fourth place overall while second place Junior, Hamish Lovemore followed him home in fifth position nineteen seconds later.

Having spent much of her year focusing on the river and flatwater marathon scenes, Euro Steel/Fenn Kayaks’ Ward recently made a welcome return to her surfski and is relishing being back in the sea’s salty water once more.

“After the Fish River Canoe Marathon I got back into my ski and it has been great to be back on the ocean again!

“I’ve been spending as much time as I can trying to get used to the surf and catching runs again so its nice that some of that has paid off at these first two Wall and Back races while it was also great to have Kyeta (Purchase) and Donna (Tutton) on the water again too!

“Wall and Back is all part of my build up to the upcoming SA Surfski Champs at Pete Marlin in the Eastern Cape on the first weekend of November as well as the Dragon Run in Hong Kong the weekend after that, so in that sense its nice that things are going well for me at the moment too.”

Ward’s Euro Steel/Fenn Kayaks team mate, Kyeta Purchase finished second while Donna Tutton claimed third place.

In the double clash Clinton Cook and Tom Lovemore raced home ahead of Irvin Dixon and Byron McKie while Shaun Dias and Kerry were the first mixed double across the line and Savannah van Rooyen and Siobhan Sharp claimed the women’s doubles spoils.

Race three of the 2016 Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back Surfski Series takes place at 15h15 at Suncoast Pirates on Friday 28 October. More information can be found at www.wallandback.co.za


1.Wade Krieger 36.22
2.Matthew Bouman 36.45
3.Luke Nisbet 38.08
4.Bailey de Fondaumiere (U18) 39.08
5.Hamish Lovemore (U18) 39.50

1.Jenna Ward 44.20
2.Kyeta Purchase (U18) 46.45
3.Donna Tutton 53.33

Junior Boys
1.Bailey de Fondaumiere 39.08
2.Hamish Lovemore 39.50
3.Emanuel Zaloumis 45.53

Junior Girls
1.Kyeta Purchase 46.45

1.Clinton Cook/Tom Lovemore 37.06
2.Irvin Dixon/Byron McKie 37.20
3.Travis Wilson/Tyler Wilson 38.53

Mixed Doubles
1.Shaun Dias/Kerry Segal 40.04
2.Lee Furby/Pippa McGregor 41.57
3.Jordon Clauson/Vanessa Mayhew 43.11

Women’s Doubles
1.Savannah van Rooyen/Siobhan Sharp 56.10

Krieger and Ward draw first blood at Illovo Wall & Back

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – The 2016 Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back Surfski Series began in dramatic fashion on Friday evening as tricky surf and tough conditions greeted paddlers with Wade Krieger and Jenna Ward claiming wins handing them the upper hand after the first of six legs.


The opening salvo of the demanding series was missing defending champion Hank McGregor, however the competition between winner Krieger and Matt Bouman was always going to be an interesting one and it played out to script.

“It was a tough race especially taking on Matt (Bouman) who is a really tough rival and fierce competitor,” Herbalife/Epic Kayak’s Krieger said after his win.

“The surf was tricky and we had to do some hard turns early to avoid the sets as well as a couple of doubles but it was well worth it in the end.”

The first race of the 2015 series followed a very similar pattern with Krieger and Bouman fighting it out for the honours. Krieger took the honours in 2015 and repeated the achievement again in 2016.

“The race got really intense on the way back with Matthew and I going head to head but I have been in that situation before with Hank (McGregor) so I knew that I couldn’t give up.

“I decided to turn in early instead of continuing the extra few metres deeper and got to the shore with a 200 metre run for the line.

“It paid off as I made the right decision and got to the finish line first which I am really stoked about!” a satisfied Krieger added.

SMG/Epic Kayak’s Bouman was pipped to the line by just three seconds with Steve Woods completing the podium, finishing just under three minutes behind the winner.

Owing in part to the difficulty of the conditions Euro Steel/Fenn Kayak’s Jenna Ward was the only female paddler to take on the first race of the 2016 Wall and Back series finishing fourteenth overall.

“It was really fun to be back in the sea racing despite the big surf and choppy water,” Ward mentioned.

“I am hoping for a series win but all the girls are so it is going to be really interesting racing for the series title.

“There will be some strong girls on the start line next week so I am just really looking forward to some good, hard racing,” added Ward.

The young dup of Clinton Cook and Thomas Lovemore were the first double to cross the line ahead of Lee Muir and Shaun Burgin in second and Irvin Dixon and Byron McKie in third.

More information can be found at www.wallandback.co.za


1.Wade Krieger 36:56
2.Matt Bouman 36:59
3.Steve Woods 39:42
4.Konrad Karcz 43:33
5.Greg Worthington 44:07

1.Jenna Ward 53:08

Men’s Junior
1.Brendon Delport 01:03:13

1.Clinton Cook/Thomas Lovemore 39:46
2.Lee Muir/Shaun Burgin 44:07
3.Irvin Dixon/Byron McKie 45:54

Varsity College Claim Double Gold at USSA Canoeing Champs

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

Students gathered from around the country to take part in the USSA Canoeing Championships at the Hansa Fish Canoe Marathon over the weekend, which also doubled as the National K1 Championship. The USSA championships happens on the great fish river every year in October, where student paddlers don their university colours for the iconic 84km canoe marathon from Grassridge Dam to Cradock.


Varsity College have been coming through the student canoeing ranks in recent years and showed their dominance this year by claiming the elusive double, winning the mens and ladies divisions for the USSA Canoeing Championships.

The Varsity College mens team, led by Tom Lovemore from the Durban North Campus, who finished an amazing 30th overall, took charge of the leader board from Day 1. This was backed up by a great second day performance by his Durban North team mate Irvin Dixon, finishing 46th overall. The VC team was rounded up with 49th place finish by Cape Town student and surfski star Dom Notten and 51rd place Stuart Bristow who is also an SA flat water sprinter.

With 4 very consistent scores, Varsity College edged out as strong challenge from UCT into 2nd and defending champions Stellenbosch University coming home 3rd, despite their captain Andrew Houston, having finished in 4th place overall.

The Varsity College ladies team of Dee Kotze (PE) and Kelly Billion (Durban North), had great races with very little issues on the challenging river, shooting the big rapids and weirs on their way to finishing 19th and 21st in the ladies race. It was Kotze’s flawless race that allowed her to be the first female student to Cradock and in turn claimed Varsity College their second win of the weekend.

A very proud Carole Adam from Varsity College commented on the team’s performance as they reached the top step of the podium, “It is great to see the student’s hard work come to fruition because they have been putting in long hours both on the river and in the lecture room. The sports life vision at VC is to encourage the students to strike a healthy work life balance and it is clearly evident in this result” said Carole Adam, Varsity College National Sports Manager.

This is the first time Varsity College has taken both the mens and ladies titles at the USSA Canoeing Champs. “I am really proud of the team for backing up their training with solid performances all round in the big water of the Fish River. I am sure this will motivate the team to come back and defend their title in 2017” said Varsity College ambassador and team captain Barry Lewin.

This win for the Varsity College Sports Club follows on from fantastic results at the recent USSA winter champs that took place in July this year; where VC won gold in both men and ladies divisions at surfing champs in Vic Bay, in addition to, the mens hockey team finishing in the top 4 of the USSA Hockey Champs knocking out UJ who are the Varsity Sports champions.

Illovo Wall and Back returns for exciting 2016 edition

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – As the summer months approach, the surf at Pirates SLC becomes the home of the six-leg 2016 Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back Surfski Series which will be kicking off on Friday, 14 October for another edition of the action-packed, drama-laden series that takes paddlers from Suncoast Pirates Lifesaving Club to the harbour wall and back.


The famous surfski series is one of the tougher series on the East Coast’s calendar as the tricky surf at Pirates makes the exit and entry difficult.

That, however, won’t stop droves of paddlers taking on the eight kilometre course to the harbour and back every Friday evening for the next six weeks.

The series’ testing conditions has meant it attracts the crème de la crème of surfski paddlers in the Durban region and the 2016 series will be no different as the intense rivalry between 2015 series winner Hank McGregor and his regular opponent, Matthew Bouman (Epic Kayaks) resumes with the challenge for the ladies title set to be just as competitive.

“It is a great series and I will definitely try and race in as many of the legs of the series as I can this year,” Euro Steel/Epic Kayak’s McGregor mentioned.

“The surf is definitely the most challenging part of the race and as far as surfski races go, it is definitely one of the trickier races as it is not over until you have got through the surf and are back on the beach.

“That element of nature that you have to contend with is one of the main components that makes the Wall and Back series so unique.

“The series ups the skill levels of everyone who takes part and is a proper test for all, setting it apart from the other Durban series.”

A chocker-block international surfski schedule may well curtail McGregor’s march towards another Wall and Back Surfski Series title however he has committed himself to as many races as he can do as he looks to meet the series’ minimum criteria that requires paddlers to complete four of the six races to be in line for the series’ spoils.

“I am off to France next week for a surfski race and I am busy until the end of the year, but I will be at Pirates every Friday that I am available!

“The competition is always so good and it gives me a chance to sharpen up and take on some of the best surfski paddlers in the world on a weekly basis.

“We have conditions here in Durban that international paddlers have never experienced, so it gives us the edge in international competition.

“The high quality of racing also means that I have to be on top of my game week in and week out,” he stressed.

The ladies series honours will be just as exciting with a number of high-class paddlers in the running for the overall title. Training partners Jenna Ward (Euro Steel), Kyeta Purchase (Euro Steel/Mocké Paddling) and Nikki Russell will lead the charge, however others, such as Hayley Nixon (Euro Steel/Carbonology Sport), will be chomping at the bit for a chance at success.

Purchase won the overall women’s title in 2015 however she will have her work cut out for her this year with a stellar field expected to be contesting for the honours.

More information can be found at www.wallandback.co.za

GoPro Video – Day in the Life of a Varsity College Student

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Coaching

I just love this video, using GoPro’s to tell a cool story of what life is like as a Varsity College student. 8 students were given GoPro’s to film their average day and this is the result.

Varsity College students live the slogan “take life to the next level” in every way, from adding to their skill in the lecture rooms, living a balanced life with the SportsLife program and networking with their peers.

I love how the VC Sport Life Program is so prominent in the video, with students using sports like paddling and surfing to opens so many doors, keep healthy and meet like minded people.


Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

The second edition of Red Bull Beach Patrol on Durban’s famous North Beach produced non-stop action for more than 900 spectators who gathered on the beachfront as prominent Durban Lifesaver Luke Nisbet took the title.


DURBAN (KwaZulu-Natal) – Usually the spot of many a surf rescue, North Beach played host to lifesaving professionals and enthusiasts as Red Bull Beach Patrol saw competitors take to the warm waters of Durban, testing their overall fitness in four gruelling rounds. Local boy Luke Nisbet fought off initial favourite Wade Krieger to claim the overall title.

The starting field of over 80 participants whittled down over the three preliminary legs, with only 33 making it to the traditional lifesaving ‘iron-man’ final.

“It was a great day all-round even though paddling conditions were a bit flat,” Nisbet said after his win. “I really started feeling it during the run after the surfski leg of the final – the support on the pier was awesome and really pushed me on to the end.”

Krieger, though dominant in the preliminary rounds, couldn’t hold off Nisbet who starting the final with a strong swim and increased his gap over the field through the finale.

“It’s great to win an event like this against such a top class field. This event is great for the local lifesavers because it gives guys the chance to showcase their skills over a format that is so unique to the sport.”

The typically warm Durban winter weather provided the ideal environment for action-packed racing as top lifesavers tested their mettle against a variety of other athletes in an exciting format.

The format’s preliminary rounds consisted of surfski, Malibu board and surf swim legs which narrowed down the field with the fastest athletes qualifying for the iron man final which included the three preliminary disciplines as well as a run down the North Beach pier and a swim to shore.

Dusi Canoe Marathon winner and third place finisher in 2016, Sbonelo Khwela, took a step out of his comfort zone as he competed in the day’s action: “What the professional lifeguards do on a daily basis is amazing. They have to be so fit to be able to save lives day after day. I was certainly humbled sitting amongst them in the field.”

“They’re the real heroes.”



1.Luke Nisbet 00:19:51
2.Wade Krieger 00:20:20
3.Donald Brierley 00:21:42

1.Carmel Billson 00:22:52
2.Ayanda Maphumulo 00:24:55
3.Tamryn Montgomery 00:25:05

For more information, head to www.redbull.co.za/beachpatrol.

McGregor bags maiden FNB Durban Downwind success

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – South African paddling icon Hank McGregor overcame sickness, flat conditions as well as a strong local field to clinch his maiden FNB Durban Downwind win on Sunday while the in-form Nicole Russell claimed the World Surfski Series title event’s women’s crown.


Despite organisers’ best efforts to stage the race in the best available wind conditions of the weekend, Mother Nature didn’t come to the party as hoped and the 26km journey from La Mercy Beach to Marine Surf Lifesaving Club at Addington Beach was a testing one for all.

McGregor, having come close to victory in the race’s debut in 2014, had little hassle second time around as he claimed a commanding triumph, racing home one minute and four seconds ahead of Matt Bouman.

“I’m glad to take the win this time around,” said McGregor. “I narrowly lost it two years ago so it’s nice to win the Durban Downwind for the first time.”

“Conditions were pretty tough; there was hardly any assistance really so it was a hard slog for 26kms.

“I managed to get out in front early and then kept the guys behind me for the rest of the race – there weren’t too many tactics involved really.

“I was in hospital on Friday so it was a hit and miss whether I was going to race but I’m glad I was able to get out there and it’s nice to have gotten the win,” added the Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks athlete.

Bouman echoed McGregor’s sentiments regarding the conditions while sang the praises of the victor and the organisers alike.

“It’s sad that it was as flat as it was because there aren’t many races where the organisers genuinely search for the best downwind conditions and the Durban Downwind is one of them where they do.

“This was one of only a few opportunities where the guys use the whole two day window period to try to find the wind but when Mother Nature says there’s no wind then there simply is no wind.

“I’m not unhappy with how I performed; it was good for me personally but the person who puts in the most work is the guy who wins and it’s something you’ve got to give people credit for.

“Hank was just too strong today and well done to him for that. The man’s commitment to sport and the amount of work he does is one hell of a thing,” added Bouman graciously.

Australia’s Mark Anderson (Fenn Kayaks/Oceanpaddler Sydney) claimed the bottom step of the podium while Gene Prato and Barry Lewin (Jeep Team) claimed positions four and five.

Carbonology Sport’s Bailey de Fondaumiere was the first junior across the line, finishing seventh overall, while birthday boy, Wade Krieger (Epic Kayaks/Falcon World Travel) rounded out the top ten.

In the women’s charge, Russell and Hayley Nixon went head to head from the get-go, the former edging out the latter by thirty three seconds in the end.

“I love the Durban Downwind and it’s great to win again,” said Russell. “Winning SA Marathon Champs a couple of weeks ago definitely gave me a bit of confidence in these flat conditions because I do normally prefer the bumps, runs and a bit of swell.”

“I knew it was going to be a grind but it was even tougher than I was expecting.

“Haylz (Nixon) was there the whole way and it was a ding-dong battle between us. I went deep early on and I didn’t see Hayley until we met up at about halfway. I then went on the inside and she stuck to the middle, which worked out for me in the end but it was very close.”

Nixon was pleased with her effort. “It was an awesome race and a titanic battle. I’m stoked with second place and well done to Nikki on her win,” the Carbonology Sport competitor said.

While a predominantly local field, eleven paddlers from Gauteng and one each from Western and Eastern Cape made the journey to Durban for the race with Johannesburg’s Anna Clifford Arwidi rounding out the women’s podium while Durbanville Hills’ Anton Holtzhausen was the first Masters competitor home.

Through the support of title sponsors FNB, a prize money purse of R40000 was given away across all age groups and categories while all finishers stood the chance winning various Thule and Funky Pants lucky draws prizes.

“KwaZulu-Natal is South Africa’s second largest economy and is well positioned in the tourism and sporting sectors,” commented Howard Arrand, FNB Business – KZN Provincial Head.

“We relish the opportunity to be involved with the Durban Downwind event as the sport continues to grow in popularity as one of the key activities in the province and the South African sporting calendar.

“Congratulations to all those who took part in the race as well as the families, spectators and the various communities who showed their support,” he added.

More information can be found at www.durbandownwind.co.za.


1.Hank McGregor 1:44.50
2.Matt Bouman 1:45.54
3.Mark Anderson (AUS) 1:48.54
4.Gene Prato 1:49.27
5.Barry Lewin 1:50.40
6.Luke Nisbet 1:50.52
7.Bailey de Fondaumiere (U18) 1:52.35
8.Jason Ekstrand 1:53.06
9.Steve Woods 1:53.43
10.Wade Krieger 1:54.10

1.Nicole Russell 2:01.32
2.Hayley Nixon 2:02.05
3.Anna Clifford Arwidi 2:27.49