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My eventing started in 2010 when I took over the Marine Surfski Series from the club I had grown up at and since then have grown the series into the biggest of it’s kind in the country.

I now offer a number of eventing services to the water sport community. In 2013 this included branching out into more surfski races in the winter months as the Bay Union Surfski Series and also worked on the World MTB Champs in PMB.

This category on my blog covers news and updates from the events I organise, dont miss out.

FNB Durban Downwind thriller crowns new champions

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – Jasper Mocké hit a triple jackpot in Durban on Saturday afternoon, winning a thrilling dice with Hank McGregor to win the FNB Durban Downwind, and with it he took the SA Single Surfski crown as well as a place in the national team to the ICF Surfski World Champs in Hong Kong later in the year.

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The Capetonian rounded off a tactically astute race that saw him opt for a deep water line with his older brother Dawid and Kenny Rice, while McGregor led the local charge closer inshore, hoping to set a straight line course in the steady North Easterly wind.

McGregor floundered in the surf coming in and had to beach earlier than expected and run to the finish line along the beach while Mocké (Euro Steel/Mocké Paddling) nailed the line in and carefully picked his way through the tricky surf at the finish.

McGregor (Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks) cantered home in second and sealed the other senior men’s slot in the World Champs team, with Dawid Mocké rounding out the podium with an end sprint with Kenny Rice.

“It is such an honour to win the national title against a field like this,” said Jasper Mocké at the finish.

“A week ago when we knew it was going to be an East my brother and I decided that we would go deep, and when we get into a zone racing each other I know we are going fast. I never even thought about the guys on the inside.”

“With about ten kays to go, off Moses Mabhida, I was feeling good, and I decided to set my sights on Addington. I felt that the runs were lining up where I wanted to go and I could surf right into the finish,” he said.

Mocké added that he hadn’t been aware of where defending champ Hank McGregor was until the dying minutes of the race.

“About two kays to go I saw that red cap pop up and I knew I had to race my buddy to the finish. I was happy where I was. I could see Hank running with his ski on the beach and that’s just awkward,” he added.

After winning the SA K1 River title on the Pink Lady Drakenstein race last weekend Jasper Mocké joins a very small group of athletes to hold a river marathon and surfski national title in the same season.

The women’s title race proved to be just as enthralling as Michelle Burn (Fenn Kayaks) needed all her accumulated downwind experience to stave off the challenge from the reigning Surfski World Series champ Hayley Nixon (Euro Steel/Carbonology), with Nikki Russell completing the women’s podium.

“Just after Umhlanga I decided to go deeper, so I waited for Hayley (Nixon) and Nikki (Russell) to go past and I went out to sea. I did notice that Hayley decided to follow me.”

“About six kays from the finish I started to feel tired, but I just put my head down and tried to milk the last few runs into the finish. I wasn’t actually sure that I had won it when I got to the beach,” she added.

The race started with a backline start at La Mercy, where the huge surf made life very difficult for the paddlers trying to get out to the start line.

Nineteen paddlers were forced to withdraw, most of them after breaking their skis in the crunching backline break, including the pedigree likes of Dusi champ Andy Birkett.

Jenna Ward was another casualty of the angry surf, dubbed “No Mercy” by Hank McGregor. Her new ski was damaged and she was forced to swim it ashore. After repairing it with duct tape she got a fellow male paddler to paddle it out through the surf while she took a ride in a rubber duck and rejoined the rest of the field for the deep water start.
“It’s fantastic to see the unbelievable turnout of the competing paddlers and spectators enjoying the incredible experience of taking part in this competition,” said Michael Honeywell, FNB Business Regional Head KZN Coastal.

“Congratulations to all the paddlers for displaying breathtaking and adrenaline packed performances and the supporters who made the event even more electrifying,” he added.

Many of the elite paddlers will now turn their attention to international events in Mauritius, Portugal, Canada and the USA in the coming weeks, while the local seasons shifts to the popular Open Ocean Surfski Challenge series based at Durban Underwater Club, starting on 9 July.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS
FNB DURBAN DOWNWIND
Overall
1 Jasper Mocké 1:29:18.54
2 Hank McGregor 1:29:19.13
3 Dawid Mocké 1:29:55.32
4 Kenneth Rice 1:29:55.99 (U23)
5 Hynard Mackenzie (AUS) 1:31:36.76 (U23)
6 Matthew Bouman 1:31:46.62
7 Kyle Friedenstein 1:31:49.92
8 Zoog Haynes/Lance Howarth 1:32:48.69
9 Stuart Maclaren 1:33:54.56
10 Mark Keeling 1:34:16.64 (U23)
11 Gene Prato 1:34:17.62 (U23)
12 Mark Anderson (AUS) 1:34:19.38
13 Grant Van Der Walt 1:34:36.30
14 Steve Woods 1:34:43.13
15 Bailey De Fondaumiere 1:34:59.55 (U23)
16 Bevan Manson 1:35:16.58
17 Ian Black 1:35:32.40
18 Joshua Fenn 1:36:49.35 (U18)
19 Luke Nisbet 1:36:50.37
20 Tyron Maher 1:36:51.31 (U23)

Double ski
1 Zoog Haynes/Lance Howarth 1:32:48.69
2 Donna Winter/Shaun Burgin 1:37:18.48
3 Bruce Wenke/Justin Wenke 1:42:56.54

Women.
1 Michelle Burn 1:42:58.20
2 Hayley Nixon 1:44:05.68
3 Nikki Russell 1:45:07.59
4 Kyeta Purchase 1:49:13.37 (U23)
5 Bridgitte Hartley 1:54:10.89

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

Bouman and Burn kick-start winter surfski season with wins

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – After a brief break from the surf on the Durban beach front, paddlers returned to take on the first race of the winter and it was stalwarts Matt Bouman and Michelle Burn who claimed wins at the Hansa Surfski Challenge at Dairy Beach on the Worker’s Day public holiday on Monday.

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Despite the long weekend, Durban’s surfski community showed how much they have missed ocean racing as the women’s field attracted some of the top paddlers in the region with Michelle Burn showing that her hard work is paying dividends.

“I tried to use the FNB Surfski Series as a point to get back into paddling and then build on that through the winter,” the Fenn Kayaks’ star said.

“I have been working hard since the summer series and Monday was a great way for me to see whether I have improved – which I think I have.”

The 12km Hansa Surfski Challenge took place on a two-lap, 6km out-and-back course that tested paddlers of all abilities and Burn was happy that she was able to hold off the other women through the two laps.

“On the first lap I was able to hold on to Bridgitte (Hartley) out to the turn can and when we turned I got some good runs and opened up a gap.

“It was vital that I was able to hold them off on the final paddle to the turn can into the wind, and I managed that.

“I was proud of my effort and it was a good example of my improvements that I have made, especially with Bridgitte, Jenna (Ward) and Kyeta (Purchase) on the water,” she added.

The race for second in the women’s race threatened to be an exciting one, however, young Euro Steel ace Kyeta Purchase got a gap on her team mate Bridgitte Hartley and beat her by 40 seconds.

In the men’s race it was SMG/Epic Kayaks’ Bouman who showed his class to claim the overall win ahead of young Bailey de Fondaumiere with Bay Union/Fenn Kayaks’ Luke Nisbet in third place overall.

Bouman was a class apart and managed and mastered the conditions better than anyone else as he finished 25 second ahead of De Fondaumiere with a procession of paddlers following them home.

The doubles racing is always a hard-fought affair and the Hansa Surfski Challenge was no surprise. Shaun Burgin and partner Lee Muir ended up taking the overall win just under a minute ahead of Bruce Wenke and Linton Hope with Eugene Swanepoel and Johann Terblanche in third.

The race also offered a one-lap 6km race and that saw Jasper Gaylard outstrip the rest of the field to win by a mammoth two-and-a-half minutes ahead of Patrick Addis and overall women’s winner Siobhan Sharp third.

In the stand-up paddleboard category, Thomas King was far too strong for the other competitors and finished the 6km course in 40 minutes and 54 seconds. His win was more impressive as he beat Matt Swemmer by five minutes while Jaqueline le Court De Billot took third.

The next race of the winter season is the opening race of the Bay Union Surfski Series – the Bay Union Singles Surfski Challenge on 7 May 2017.

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

SUMMARY OF RESULTS – Hansa Surfski Challenge
RACE FIVE OF THE 2016 BAY UNION SURFSKI SERIES

LONG COURSE
Singles
1.Matthew Bouman 50:52
2.Bailey de Fondaumiere 51:17
3.Luke Nisbet 51:30
4.Wade Krieger 51:52
5.Barry Lewin 52:14
6.Gene Prato 52:14
7.Tyron Maher 53:29
8.Clinton Cook 53:33
9.Richard Burn 54:31
10.Zoog Haynes 55:14

Women
1.Michelle Burn 56:20
2.Kyeta Purchase 57:55
3.Bridgitte Hartley 58:35
4.Jenna Ward 58:44
5.Donna Tutton 1:02:36

Junior Boys
1.Brendon Delport 59:08

Doubles
1.Shaun Burgin/Lee Muir 51:43
2.Bruce Wenke/Linton Hope 52:49
3.Eugene Swanepoel/Johann Terblanche 54:47
4.Skye Prato/Marc Descoins 55:54
5.Mark Lewin/Allan Hold 56:15

SHORT COURSE
Singles
1.Jasper Gaylard 35:29
2.Patrick Addis 38:00
3.Siobhan Sharp 38:01

Doubles
1.Sean Chater/Dylan Riddle 33:30
2.Dean Maclean/Catherine Addis 34:19
3.Stuart Riddle/Gary Bowler 38:25

SUP
1.Thomas King 40:54
2.Matthew Swemmer 46:16
3.Jaqueline le Court De Billot 47:04

Top of the class finish for 2017 FNB Surfski Series

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – The 2017 FNB Surfski Series came to an exciting end with the Varsity College Surfski Challenge and the Varsity College SA Schools Championships taking place at the Marine Surf Lifesaving Club on Friday evening.

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Appropriately, Hank McGregor and Hayley Nixon claimed Race Ten win’s and by doing so they wrapped up the overall men’s and women’s titles for the second year in succession.

Euro Steel/Carbonology’s Nixon had to finish well at the final race of the series to secure the title and with the threat of Bridgitte Hartley racing the final race of the series, the pressure was on. However, Nixon powered her way home to win by just over a minute ahead of Hartley in second with Kyeta Purchase in third.

It was an impressive seventh win of the series for Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks’ Hank McGregor who just pipped Capetonian Kenny Rice to the post while Matt Bouman rounded out the podium.

Much of the focus of the evening was the Varsity College SA Schools Championships which provided some exciting race across the Under 18 and Under 16 divisions with William Wood from Selborne College in East London taking a tight win.

“I have been working really hard for this and when I was behind after the first lap I just put my head down and made sure Hamish (Lovemore) didn’t get away from me,” Wood mentioned after his win.

“It was a proper, hard race and I felt good from the beginning but it was a really good contest throughout the race.”

The race was a ding-dong battle throughout the second lap with both paddlers not giving an inch, however it was Wood who got the slightest of gaps coming into the finish which was just enough to hand him a memorable win.

“On the final downwind leg we were matching each other run for run but I managed get a run ahead of him and he got caught just behind me which gave me the space I needed.

“I just held the gap for a bit and grew it slightly coming into the finish.

“Such a great feeling to be able to win a race that I have been working towards for so long and take back the title to East London!” a satisfied Wood added.

Young Under 16 paddler Ulvard Hart came home in third place in the boys section with Hamish Mackenzie just behind him to take second Under 16 and fourth overall.

In the girls race it was FNB Surfski Series regular Sabina Lawrie who was too strong for the rest of the girls field as she finished eighth overall and just under three minutes ahead of Christie Mackenzie in second.

Zara Wood was the third girl across the finish line and was the first Under 16 girl to finish the 8km course. Cara Waud was second Under 16 and sixth girl to finish.
On another jam-packed Friday evening at Marine SLC Luke Nisbet and Jenna Ward showed their class once again to finish third in the doubles category and claim another mixed doubles win whilst Jason Ekstrand and Clinton Cook took the overall doubles spoils.

Mthebeni Mhkize was the strongest boat in the 4km short course, however the strongest boat in the race was the visiting doubles pair of Andre and Helen Wood.

Carmel Billson was in fine form as she finished the short course as the third single ski and first female ski. She finished ahead of Siobhan Sharp in second and Jenna Nel in third.

In the stand-up paddleboard category Nick Park-Ross once again showed his skills to claim another win. In the ladies SUP category it was Danica Bartho who finished top once again and finished fifth overall.

More information can be found at www.marineseries.co.za.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – Varsity College Surfski Challenge and Varsity College SA Schools Champs
RACE TEN OF THE 2017 FNB SURFSKI SERIES

LONG COURSE
1.Hank McGregor 31.24
2.Kenny Rice 31.42
3.Matt Bouman 31.45
4.Wade Krieger 32.47
5.Gene Prato 33.43
6.Grant van der Walt 33.58
7.Bailey de Fondaumiere 34.12
8.Emil Torstensonn 34.14
9.Tyron Maher 34.16
10.Jordon Clauson 35.10

Women
1.Hayley Nixon 36.39
2.Bridgitte Hartley 37.30
3.Kyeta Purchase 39.08
4.Kerry Segal 39.18
5.Pippa McGregor 40.23

Doubles
1.Jason Ekstrand/Clinton Cook 31.26
2.Thomas Lovemore/Felix Richter 32.52
3.Jenna Ward/Luke Nisbet 33.02

Mixed Doubles
1.Jenna Ward/Luke Nisbet 33.02
2.Raquel Arcediano/Gareth Miles 35.43
3.Rowan Matthews/Jenna Matthews 37.39

Women Doubles
1.Emma Broberg/Emma Andersson 36.26
2.Wilma Deyzel/Lyn Bennett 40:16
3.Sharon Armstrong/Kelly Biljoen 41.52

SHORT COURSE
1.Mthebeni Mkhize 20.09
2.Bruze Jackson 21.16
3.Carmel Bilson 22.48
4.Kevin Oliver 23.00
5.Dave Rees 23.11

Women
1.Carmel Bilson 22.48
2.Siobhan Sharp 23.12
3.Jenna Nel 25.05

Double
1.Andre Wood/Helen Wood 18.56
2.Jody Taylor/Duane Taylor 19.28
3.LAnce Howarth/Jade Howarth 21.18

SUP
1.Nick Park-Ross 25.27
2.Brandon Read 26.34
3.Jon Ivins 28.08
4.Matt Swemmer 28.36
5.Brendon Germaine 29.07

Women
1.Danica Bartho 29.00
2.Lande Williamson 29.28
3.Charlotte Atherton 30.07

VARSITY COLLEGE SA SCHOOLS CHAMPIONSHIPS
OVERALL
1.William Wood 34.14
2.Hamish Lovemore 34.38
3.Ulvard Hart (U16) 36.21
4.Hamish Mackenzie (U16) 36.25
5.Stewart Little 37.15
6.Brendon Delport 37.31
7.Alex Masina 38.08
8.Sabina Lawrie 38.16
9.Kelly Ashton Tarr 39.02
10.Matthew Maroun 39.50

GIRLS
1.Sabina Lawrie 38.16
2.Christie Mackenzie 41.21
3.Zara Wood (U16) 43.20
4.Teegan Hardwick 45.44
5.Alice Edwards 46.19

UNDER 16 BOYS
1.Ulvard Hart 36.21
2.Hamish Mackenzie 36.25
3.James Matthews 43.43
4.Petrus de Klerk 48.03
5.George Edward 1:08.04

UNDER 16 GIRLS
1.Zara Wood 43.20
2.Cara Waud 47.25

Early surprise as Hartley takes first win at FNB Surfski Series

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – With hundreds of excited paddlers lining the Addington Beach for the first race of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series on Friday, the race produced a big surprise as former Olympic bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley beat off the tough ladies competition to claim a maiden win at race one while stalwart Hank McGregor took the honours in the men’s race.

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Paddlers were greeted to some tame conditions as long course, short course and stand-up paddle boarders took some time to work out the rust and Christmas pudding on Friday, however the racing at the sharp end of the field was as tough as ever with paddlers jostling for an early advantage.

Hartley and race favourite and Euro Steel team mate Hayley Nixon spent a lot of the race together however when the paddlers turned into the wind for the final time Hartley came into her own and managed to get ahead all the way to the finish line.

“Tonight was really fun and I was really excited to race with so many other paddlers and against some strong ladies,” Hartley mentioned.

“I really didn’t know what to expect so I was fairly cautious at the start of the race but I managed to catch Hayley just before the first buoy.”

Hartley was going to have her work cut out for her against an experienced paddler like Nixon but she believed that if she turned for home with Nixon she had a chance of winning.

“I tried to interval as much as I could into the wind and we had so much fun trying to catch some runs with the wind!

“It was so much fun and I am really excited that I managed to get a win at the first race of the series,” she added.

The ladies field was rounded out by Euro Steel/Carbonology’s Hayley Nixon in second, who finished 44 seconds behind Hartley, and young Euro Steel/Fenn Kayaks’ star Kyeta Purchase, who came home in third a further two minutes behind Nixon.

Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks’ Hank McGregor managed to pick up where he left off in 2016 with another win at the FNB Surfski Challenge as he eyes an impressive eighth FNB Surfski Series title. McGregor was in a class of his own as he dominated the entire field to win the race by 38 seconds over long-time rival Matt Bouman with Wade Krieger coming home in third.

Clinton Cook and Hamish Lovemore finished second overall in the race just behind McGregor and managed to just pip the pair of Jason Ekstrand and Richard Lowe to the win.

Emanuel Zaloumis was the best placed junior when he finished tenth overall just two seconds ahead of Hamish Mackenzie with Sabine Lawrie being the best placed junior girl.

The short course was dominated by Matthew Maroun who took the overall honours over Shane Maguire in second and Jasper Gaylard in third.

The SUP category was a tough race with Nick Park-Ross taking the race one honours ahead of Brandon Read in second and Robbie de Billot in third. The ladies category was won by Charlotte Anderson ahead of Lande Williamson and Danica Bartho in second and third respectively.

The The Funky Pants Surfski Challenge, Race Two of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday, 13 January at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, Addington Beach. More information can be found at www.marineseries.co.za.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS – FNB SURFSKI CHALLENGE
RACE ONE OF THE 2017 FNB SURFSKI SERIES

LONG COURSE
1.Hank McGregor 32:46
2.Matt Bouman 33:14
3.Wade Krieger 34:20
4.Grant van der Walt 34:21
5.Bailey de Fondaumiere 35:32
6.Gene Prato 35:37
7.Lee McGregor 35:39
8.Tyron Maher 36:34
9.Oliver Burn 37:22
10.Emanuel Zaloumis 37:28

Women
1.Brigitte Hartley 36:50
2.Hayley Nixon 37:34
3.Kyeta Purchase 39:35

Doubles
1.Clinton Cook/Hamish Lovemore 32:58
2.Jason Ekstrand/Richard Lowe 33:09
3.Darly Bartho/Clinton Pretorius 34:27

Mixed Double
1.Jenna Ward/Luke Nisbet 34:41

Junior Boys
1.Emanuel Zaloumis 37:28
2.Hamish Mackenzie 37:30
3.Brendon Delport 39:56

Junior Girls
1.Sabina Lawrie 42:44

SHORT COURSE
1.Matthew Maroun 20:59
2.Shane Maguire 22:17
3.Jasper Gaylard 23:00

Doubles
1.Justin Swart/Stefan Swart 21:21
2.Mark Taylor/Richard Taylor 22:09
3.Jason Ward/Nigel Ward 22:12

SUP
Men
1.Nick Park-Ross 26:26
2.Brandon Read 26:58
3.Robbie de Billot 27:42

Women
1.Charlotte Anderson 30:19
2.Lande Williamson 30:41
3.Danica Bartho 32:26

2017 FNB Surfski Series set for another top-class showdown

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – The Durban surfski fraternity will once again be treated to a spectacle when the coutnry’s best surfski stars battle it out over the 10-leg FNB Surfski Series as world leaders and beginners alike take to the warm Indian Ocean waters from this Friday until March in one of the most popular series on the East Coast.

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The Durban surfski scene has been dominated over the years by two of the world’s leading paddlers – Hank McGregor and Matt Bouman. The two have built up an impressive rivalry that has seen the pair trade series titles, although in recent years McGregor has been the dominant force and will be back to defend the title he won in 2016.

McGregor, who recently took home the overall honours in the World Surfski Series, is in top racing form and will return to the familiar waters of KwaZulu-Natal with his eyes on another overall title at the 2017 FNB Surfski Series.

“I think last year was my seventh title at the series so it really is a series that I enjoy and have done for years,” Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks’ McGregor mentioned.

“Barry (Lewin) always puts on such a great event and through the ten weeks it becomes tradition for my family so we feel a bit lost with what to do on a Friday night when the series is over!

“I’m really looking forward to another tough series against not only some of the best surfski paddlers in KZN, but in the world too.”

McGregor’s long standing battle with Bouman goes back to well before their professional paddling days and he knows that not only Bouman will pose a threat to his title chase.

“Matthew and I have been racing each other since we were about eight years old so we know each other pretty well.

“The likes of Wade Krieger will also be a tough competitor and I am sure that there are going to be some youngsters looking to make an impact on the series,” he added.

The FNB Surfski Series has become a stalwart event in Durban during the early months of the year and with resolutions being made McGregor feels that this adds to the series’ appeal.

“It’s a great way to get back into the swing of things after a good break over the festive season.

“People are looking for events to get themselves back into shape and with a fairly forgiving course it’s an ideal way for people to get into surfski racing.

“I am looking forward to another competitive year of racing and with my river season training in full swing it will be nice to get into a surfski once in a while,” McGregor added.

The women’s series is set to be one of the most competitive yet with the depth of women’s surfski paddling in KZN growing substantially in the past few years. Hayley Nixon, who won the women’s World Surfski Series title in 2016, is one of those hoping to take top honours this year.

“I love being involved in the FNB Surfski Series as it was probably the first series that I ever did in a surfski,” the Euro Steel/Carbonology star mentioned.

“Each week it is always such a great way to start the weekend and this year I am expecting the battle for the women’s title to be really tough!

“There are girls coming across from river racing and with the likes of Bridgitte (Hartley) also getting into a surfski means that there are so many girls with different strengths. It makes the racing really competitive and each week will be just as tough.”

The FNB Surfski Challenge, Race One of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday, 6 January at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, Addington Beach. More information can be found at www.marineseries.co.za

FNB Surfski Series to welcome Durban paddlers to 2017

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – As many preparing for the fast-approaching festive season, the December holidays represent a golden opportunity for KwaZulu-Natal’s paddling fraternity to enjoy spending time on the ocean, brushing up on their surfski skills ahead of the arrival of the much-anticipated 2017 FNB Surfski Series in January.

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The popular ten race series is one of the biggest of its kind globally and attracts hundreds of paddling enthusiasts to Marine Surf Lifesaving Club at Addington Beach each week for the Friday evening contests.

With an 8km or novice-friendly 4km race option, easy surf entry, on-water safety crews and endless lucky draw prizes, the series is the ideal way for beginners to get into the sport while sharing the start line with some of the globe’s top elite racers who also lock horns weekly.

“2017 is set to be another cracking year for the FNB Surfski Series and we’re really looking forward to hosting hundreds of past participants and scores of new faces each week,” says series coordinator, Barry Lewin.

“Coming down to the FNB Surfski Series on a summery Friday evening in Durban and racing with or against your buddies before then swapping a few battle stories and claiming the week’s bragging rights – we don’t believe there is a better way to start the weekend!” he adds.

While much of what has made the series the success it has become remains, one exciting change to the mix sees banking giant First National Bank (FNB) take over as the series’ sole title sponsor having shared this with Varsity College for the past two years.

FNB’s enlarged backing of the series sees them further entrench themselves in South African paddling circles having already established strong ties with the iconic Dusi Canoe Marathon and the Durban Downwind surfski race.

“FNB Business is delighted to be a sponsor of the FNB Surfski Series,” says FNB Business KZN Provincial Head, Howard Arrand.

“At FNB Business, developing and maintaining relationships with our clients forms an integral part of how we do business. The FNB Surfski Series provides us with an exciting platform where we can make a lasting connection with new and existing clients.

“Innovation is central to FNB Business; the annual FNB Surfski event is perfectly aligned to our belief that adventure is the heart of innovation.

“Over and above this, the FNB Surfski Series affirms our commitment to providing an experience for participants through a sport that is ever growing in popularity in the KwaZulu-Natal region.”

Having gone head-to-head during the series’ clashes for the better part of a decade, global surfski stars Hank McGregor and Matt Bouman are again expected to contest the weekly spoils while Wade Krieger, Luke Nisbet, Steve Woods, Gene Prato and Bailey de Fondaumiere add depth to the world class men’s field.

“It is always great to race against a quality field and Durban hosts many of the top ten paddlers in the world, while we also often get some out-of-towners join us too, so you know you’re in for a great race each and every week of the FNB Surfski Series,” says Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks’ McGregor.

“It’s great to be able to test yourself on a Friday evening and the series is a really nice way start the year again after recharging a bit over the festive season.

“With the racing only being over 8km, you don’t exactly have to be the fittest person on earth to complete the race but up front the pace certainly does get quite intense.

“Barry (Lewin) always creates a really safe environment, especially with all the novices often in the field, so while its fast and furious for those that are racing, its friendly as well!”

The women’s title challenge will too be a hard-fought, richly contested affair as the likes of Nicole Russell, Hayley Nixon, Kyeta Purchase and Jenna Ward square off while Michelle Burn and Donna Tutton could add great experience to the mix as well.

The FNB Surfski Challenge, race one of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series, gets proceedings underway on Friday 6 January at 17h30 at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club.

The opening encounter is however preceded by a series registration function at Robsons on Point in Durban’s Point precinct on Thursday 5 January from 16h00-19h00.

While race entry is R100 per paddler, participants are encouraged to take advantage of the series special that gives paddlers 20% discount should they enter all ten races upfront.

Series special purchasers, together with those who complete eight or more races during the series, will also qualify for the series’ loyalty programme giveaway – a limited edition FNB paddle cover.

More information can be found at www.marineseries.co.za as well as on Facebook (www.facebook.com/marinesurfskiseries), Twitter (www.twitter.com/marineseries) or YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/MarineSeries).

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