Looking back at 2017 so far, I haven’t put pen to paper on the blog at all. This isn’t like me, so here I go at getting back to sharing my padding journey. This year hasn’t been one of great results yet, so there hasn’t been much to talk about. It has however been one of my most fun paddling years so far, sharing a lot of my time on the water with my Fiancé Carly.
This weekend marked the start of the winter races in Durban, with the HANSA Surfski Challenge at Dairy Beach. I helped put the race together and set a course straight out into the NE wind that had been blowing for over a week.
Durban’s top paddlers turned out with a strong men’s and ladies field, all keen to kick off the season with a bang. The race was a lot of fun with the different course giving the paddlers a fresh new challenge.
Everyone got away cleanly from the backline start and soon a big front bunch of 7 paddlers formed on the way out to the first turn can on lap 1. Matthew Bouman hit the front and made his presence felt, making everyone (especially me sitting on the back of the bunch) work really hard to stay in contact. Matthew was too strong and opened a solid lead on the first downwind leg, taking the event in fine style.
The rest were left to fight for scraps. A long train of paddlers turned the final turn can 3km from the finish, eager to take the remaining podium spots. The youngest of the group, Bailey De Fondaumiere got the jump on the bunch getting into the runs first and opening up a gap he held to take 2nd, (watch this kid this season, he is training hard) with Luke Nesbit 3rd, Wade Krieger 4th, Myself 5th and Gene Prato 6th. I had a great dice for the line with Gene, who knew I could run? The depth in Durban is always strong and it’s going to be a great season with everyone so close.
In the ladies race the seasoned Michelle Burn came out on top of a strong ladies field, followed by Kyeta Purchase in 2nd and Bridgitte Harley in 3rd.
I have a lot to improve on and looking forward to being more competitive in the bunch in the coming weeks, especially if we see the return of my Jeep Team South Africa, team mate Hank McGregor. Hank will surely lift the pace to another level.
It was the first race outing for my Epic Kayaks V12 and I am certainly getting used to the new boat. It consistently amazes me with its stability and responsiveness. I am lucky to have great kit to race with this season!
Watch out for some video footage from the race later in the week.
Next up is the Bay Union Single Challenge on the 7th of May at Marine SLC, see you there!
Pics by Anthony Grote and Sharon Armstrong
Press Release by Jeep Team South Africa, Pic By Anthony Grote
Founded in 2001, Jeep Team South Africa is the most consistent, longest-running Sports, Wellness and Lifestyle Team in South Africa.
With around 300 athletes moving through the team over the past 16 years, Jeep Team SA provides a highly educational, support and motivational platform for athletes to grow, develop and mature into national and International stars.Barry Lewin
International and National paddling star and coach, Barry Lewin, is the longest-standing member of the team, and is an important compass to all new athletes to the team.
With Jeep Team at the helm, international sports events have presented significant opportunities for rising South African athletes to compete on a global stage. These opportunities have proven that local athletes are able to hold their own in the international sporting arena. However, without structures such as Jeep team SA, this newfound success is often curtailed by a lack of effective guidance and management.
Lewin, who joined the team in 2004, now has several local and international titles to his name. Some of his more notable achievements include winning the Liffey Descent in Ireland on his first attempt in 2007, as well as breaking the 25-year-old K1 record a year later at Australia’s Avon Descent.
Says Lewin, “In 2004, I was a student at Varsity College eager to take my sport to the next level. I wanted to race against the best in the world, and in as many places as the sport would take me. With the support of Jeep Team South Africa, I got opportunities to race, firstly, around South Africa, and, in time, around the world, testing myself against some of the best paddlers on the planet. My first breakthrough came in 2005, winning the grading race in Cape Town as the first person to break an hour on the course in a new record time. I also finished 3rd at the Fish River Canoe Marathon in the same year.”
Since joining the team some 13 years ago, Lewin has developed a profound understanding of Jeep Team’s culture, and plays an active role in leading this ethos and the team ethic to both old and new members of the team.
“My highlights have been the amazing places I have paddled and the friends I have made long the way. The results have been a bonus, with wins in South Africa, Ireland, USA, Australia, and the Caribbean. My proudest achievement was captaining the SA National Team to a win at the Southern Shamaal over the strong, favoured Aussie side,” says Lewin.Barry Lewin
Max Cluer, Manager of Jeep Team South Africa says, “The goal of the team has been to encourage, support and assist athletes on their journey as racing athletes. Jeep Team SA also has huge aspirational value by educating athletes on social media, cross-sport socialisation, brand building and the opportunity to be the best and race against the best in the world, on the world stage.”
Jeep Team South Africa, home to a group of top athletes, all at the top of their game, across different sporting disciplines, is driven to become the most successful all-round sports team.
Says Lewin, an accomplished river marathon and Surfski paddler, “Jeep Team SA is quite unique in that it poses a full-service support system to the athletes. They don’t put a couple of stickers on your kit and say good luck. They play an integral part in the athletes’ careers. I have been involved with the team for a long time and understand the family culture. The management of the team has always had the athletes’ best interests at heart, and ensures they are mentored, guided and supported. This will be further supported in 2017 with the addition of SARTORITM Brand Managers to the team.”Barry Lewin
Concludes Max Cluer, “With the current crop of massively-talented Jeep Team athletes, which include the likes of World Champion, Hank McGregor, ‘The Beast’, Thomas Van Tonder, and the newly added trail running champion Christiaan Greyling, combined with the support of the team, they can only go from strength to strength in the future.”
Says Lewin on his future, “I have a new boat sponsor, Epic Kayaks, and will be racing their boats here in SA, as well as in Mauritius, Europe and Hong Kong this year. I’m hoping to retain my top 10 world series ranking. The Jeep Team is a special family of extraordinary people of whom I am proud to be a part of. I am always extremely proud to pull on my Jeep Team kit and represent this awesome group.”
After paddling for most of 2016 without a boat sponsor I am really excited to have joined Epic Kayaks as an ambassador for 2017.
Through most of the last year I paddled an Epic v14 out of choice because of the boats cockpit comfort. I have really battled in the last couple years with fitting into boats with my big frame. Most of my training partners are shocked at the but pads and foam I have to add, just to get into most top end boats.
I have been very lucky to have build a great relationship with the guys from Epic over the last couple months and am super stoked to be partnering with them this year. This has been made even more special with the introduction of the new v12. I have been paddling it the last couple weeks and excited to put it through its paces this season. A full report on the v12 soon!
In the mean time check out the video I did for Epic using my GoPro Hero 5 Session Camera’s Supplied by World Of Heroes
By Olivia Jones Communications
Renowned South African paddler, Barry Lewin, will be returning to Winklespruit Beach on Friday, 16 December to compete in the 2016 Winkle-Toti-Winkle Sea and Sand Marathon.
Last year Lewin, of Varsity College/Jeep Team SA, took the top position in the singles surfski race in a time of 54:17.47 and is looking to beat that time this year.
“I really love this trademark race which is just every paddlers’ dream,” said Lewin. “This section of the South Coast between Winklespruit and Toti Beach has great surf and the hospitality is always amazing.”
Lewin said that, because organisers adapt the race depending on conditions, it always makes for great paddling.
“They change the course according to wind conditions and last year went from Winklespruit to Widenham Beach, downwind, which was ideal. I’m really looking forward to this year’s contest.”
Now in its 44th year, the much-anticipated fundraising event is organised by the Winklespruit Surf Lifesaving Club and sanctioned by both the South African Canoe Union and South African Road Runners’ Association. There are three events including the 12.6km surfski race and the 12.6km beach run, which both start and end at Winklespruit Beach after a journey to Toti Beach. There is also a 4.8km short course beach run and walk goes until Warnadoone Rocks before returning to Winklespruit Beach.
“This is the club’s biggest annual fundraiser,” explained Gary Barber, chairman of the Winklespruit Surf Lifesaving Club. “It’s a very popular event with both locals as well as paddlers and runners from around the province which is great for raising the image of lifesaving. All the funds raised go towards costs related to getting the members to champs which will be in Port Elizabeth for the Nippers and Cape Town for the juniors and seniors.”
Barber said the event also gives the community a chance to go ‘behind the walls’ of the Winkle Lifesaving Clubhouse, often attracting new members.
Categories for the 12.6km run include juniors (18 years and under), seniors (under 40 years) and veterans (40 and over) for in both male and female divisions. For the short course, there will also be a Nippers’ category. Surfski competitors will be able to compete in junior, senior and veteran categories in either the single or doubles’ division.
The beach run and walk is open to everyone while entry to the surfski event is limited to lifesaving members as well as those of the South African Canoe Union because of the risks involved.
“Over the years the format has changed from a ‘beach festival’ to a more streamlined ‘sea and sand marathon’ focusing on the two primary activities; surfski and running,” explained Monique Botha, chairman of Sapphire Coast Tourism. “As the event is held in the middle of the high tourism season it is a perfect opportunity to market our spectacular beaches to the visiting public.”
Ensuring public safety throughout, there will be qualified lifesavers every 2kms for the beach run and walk as well as a support vehicle and paramedics on hand. Two rescue boats will be dispatched for the surfski race with professional lifeguards at Toti Main Beach on standby to assist if necessary. There is also a third rescue boat available depending on weather conditions.
All entries will be taken on the day at Winkelspruit Surf Lifesaving Club from 7.30am at a cost of R100 for the long course and R60 for the short course, with every entrant receiving a free hamburger on the day. Participants are encouraged to be at Winklespruit Beach in time for the 9am start with prizegiving taking place at the clubhouse after final event completion at about 11.45am.
The last two and a half weeks have been, as usual, really busy. With the final tying up of loose ends leading up to the start of the surfski calendar for 2017, life becomes a bit of a whirlwind. And, as always trying to balance work and training is a challenge, and I’m sure, a daily struggle encountered by us all.
It is with great excitement to announce our title sponsors for the 2017 Marine Surfski series! If you haven’t heard by now, we are very pleased to have FNB as the sole title sponsors of the Marine Series for next year. We love what FNB has done for the sport of paddling and look forward to another successful series with FNB. The Marine Surfski series would not be the same without the FNB banners decorating our much-loved Durban beachfront.
Mouth 2 Mouth – Richards Bay
On the odd occasion we need an excuse to drag ourselves away from the crowded coast of Durban and head up the road to the untamed coastline of Richards Bay. Mouth 2 Mouth is another of my favorite surfski events. With too much traveling and not enough training I was sure that this event would be a good opportunity to clock some miles in anticipation of the Pete Marlin (SA Champs) and the Hong Kong Dragon Run later in the year.
There were a lot of happy paddlers on the start line with the wind blowing 25knots. White caps from the wind covered the water as far as the eye could see across the harbour, signs normally indicating an awesome downwind.
The wind uncharacteristically swung from NE to a more Northerly direction, making the conditions very challenging. The side on chop made catching the swell going down the coast extremely taxing on the body. Every run required massive amounts of concentration and physical power.
My race turned out to be all that I had expected, a test to see if I still knew how to paddle and an opportunity to log some time in the seat. I was happy with my fourth place behind that of Gene Prato in third place, Luke Nesbit in second and Matt Bouman in first.
With another week of training in the system, my confidence in my fitness was starting to strengthen. I had done a few longer paddles during my training sessions and the body was handling well. In a moment of boldness I decided, very uncharacteristically, to take part in the longest race on the KZN calendar. I would usually avoid these longer events, especially an event that hits the 50km mark. I have not really regarded myself as a long-distance paddler but with the training going well I was excited to have the opportunity to test my endurance levels, which seem to be improving, perhaps with age.
We had favorable wind predictions, which would aid our paddle from Pirates to Tinley. KZN’s hard-core and highly skilled surfski paddlers took to the beach that day to take on the grueling distance.
I got off to a conservative start picking my way through the surf without getting into trouble. The first few kilometers into the race seemed rather slow with not that many runs out of the Durban bay. With the passing of every kilometer however the conditions and swell began to build. By the time we hit La Lucia I was truly surfing.
The leading field, consisting of Luke Nesbit, Gene Prato and Wade Krieger, had attacked the race right at the outset. They had gone out hard. Far harder than I was willing to go in the first 10km of the race. My goal for the day was to ensure I would return to attempt another of these long distances races, I would have to exercise consistency in my pacing. The leaders of the field were all within sight. As the runs built I started to make good ground, picking up Gene about 40 minutes into the race and then, catching up with Wade a further 10 minutes later. I felt good the whole way, and led the bunch for a brief period from around the 20km mark.
I chose to follow my own line, which proved to not be the wisest of choices. Luke went out much wider, which aided him in finding cleaner runs off the Ballito point. My inside line was not so forgiving and I battled with some very bad refraction being too close to the coastline.
Luke claimed a well-earned win, with Wade in second place and myself in third. To have found myself in the mix in a race of this distance, so soon after my break, was awesome.
The next two weeks are going to be used to sharpen up on some of my week points and I am looking forward to some good racing in November.
Well done to all the paddlers who took part and a huge-thank you to the super-seconds for making sure we all get to do what we love!
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.