Durban – The race for the men’s 2014 Varsity College Marine Surfski Series title has come alive once more after Umhlanga dynamo Matt Bouman clinched his third successive race victory and fourth of the series at Friday evening’s IT-Works Surfski Challenge, while the in-form Nikki Russell claimed her first race win of the series in the women’s category.
With a playful two foot surf and a light North Easterly wind blowing, paddlers were always going to be in for a paddling treat. Not many would quite have expected to have had as much fun as they did though as they were greeted by near perfect conditions.
“When you paddle in Durban you’re paddling against some of the world’s best paddlers so its always tough,” explained Bouman. “Barry (Lewin) changed this up with the course so that was something a little different, there was a good turn out and it was just another fun evening on the water.”
Bouman, having gone head to head with regular rival Hank McGregor of Team Jeep for the past few years, clinched his first race victory of the 2014 series as far back as race two before a charge by McGregor saw the scoreboard shift well in the triple Canoe Marathon World Champ’s favour.
The Epic Kayak’s star however capitalized perfectly on McGregor’s absence from the previous two races and, with McGregor again absent from the start line due to his and Sbonelo Zondi’s victorious efforts in the 2014 Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon earlier in the day, made it three wins in a row and sent the score to four race wins apiece for himself and McGregor.
With paddlers’ six best results of the ten-leg series counting towards the final series standings, there is plenty to play for in the final two standoffs with neither able to afford another ‘no-show’ nor a poor performance over the next two weeks.
History will also undoubtedly provide an extra motivating factor for McGregor as he seeks to claim his fifth consecutive series title, something he has done with a perfect score – six first place finishes – for the past four years.
“It’s always nice to get a couple of wins under the belt,” said Bouman. “Hank has obviously been away for the past few weeks so it would be nice to get these sort of results when he is here and he has won all four races that he’s taken part in.
“I guess you’ve got to be in with a shout if you want to win the series though and these couple of wins at least give me a small chance.
“The ocean is the ocean and lots can happen out there so there’s plenty still to race for in the final two races,” he added.
Grant van der Walt of Varsity College/Team Jeep took another step towards finding his full form again as he claimed another second place while series coordinator and Varsity College/Team Jeep athlete Barry Lewin narrowly edged out wade Krieger for third.
With Fenn/Team Jeep’s Michelle Burn opting to take part in race eight with her husband Oliver in the mixed doubles category after wrapping up the women’s series title last week already, the women’s clash was a tightly fought affair as Varsity College Sport Life programme’s Russell was pushed for much of the clash by rising young star Jenna Ward with Sharon Armstrong claiming the bottom step of the podium.
The doubles battle was another fascinating tussle as a returning Luke Nisbet and his younger brother Adam narrowly edged out the flying mixed doubles crews of the Burns as well as Wayne Wilson and young female talent Kerry Segal.
The junior boys clash again saw Jordan Clauson reign supreme with Keagan Kok and under-16 competitor Brett Wilken following in second and third place respectively.
While filled with newcomers to the sport, a tribute to series’ notable impact of the growth and development of the sport of surfski in the region, the short course’s field also enjoyed the presence of some top athletes.
Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, the host of the popular series, continued its dominance of the shorter race option with their talented development stars surging to the front of the field once more.
Trent Baird and Sandile Shange were the first double across the line while Thando Thusi and Mhlengi Gwala went one, two in the singles division. South African national hockey player and 2012 Olympian Tim Drummond finished third.
The HiQ Surfski Challenge, race nine of the 2014 Varsity College Marine Surfski Series, takes place on Friday 7 March at 17h30 at Marine SLC at Addington Beach. More info can be found atwww.marineseries.co.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – IT-WORKS SURFSKI CHALLENGE
RACE EIGHT OF THE 2014 VARSITY COLLEGE MARINE SURFSKI SERIES
1.Matt Bouman 35.04
2.Grant van der Walt 36.36
3.Barry Lewin 36.53
4.Wade Krieger 37.05
5.Lee McGregor 37.42
1.Nicole Russell 29.10
2.Jenna Ward 31.15
3.Sharon Armstrong 35.20
1.Luke Nisbet/Adam Nisbet 35.42
2.Oliver Burn/Michelle Burn (Mixed) 36.11
3.Wayne Wilson/Kerry Segal (Mixed) 36.40
1.Oliver Burn/Michelle Burn 36.11
2.Wayne Wilson/Kerry Segal 36.40
3.Paul Scruby/Angela Scruby 41.09
1.Jordan Clauson 39.23
2.Keagan Kok 42.26
3.Brett Wilken (U16) 43.31
1.Thando Thusi 23.49
2.Mhlengi Gwala 24.07
3.Tim Drummond 24.18
1.Trent Baird/Sandile Shange 22.33
2.Warrick Mac Nicol/Caryn Mac Nicol 22.36
3.Geoffrey Speirs/Nic Tingle 25.06
Durban – 2013 Surfski World Championships silver medalist Michelle Burn of Amanzimtoti clinched the women’s title of the 2014 Varsity College Marine Surfski Series when she claimed a narrow victory over Nicole Russell in the DionWired Surfski Challenge, race seven of the ten-leg competition.
With paddlers’ best six results of the series counting towards the final standings Burn’s victory, her sixth of the competition, sees her unbeatable with three races still to take place and hands her the series’ women’s title for the fourth time in five years.
“Unfortunately I could only get five races in last year as the last one clashed with the Argus so I’m really chuffed to have won the series title back again this year!” explained a thrilled Burn.
“Man was it tough tonight though! Nicole (Russell) pushed me the whole way and I only just managed to out sprint her up the beach right at the end!
“I really had to work hard for this sixth race win but I’m really glad I managed get it under the belt and take the title again,” she added.
With series coordinator Barry Lewin a little anxious of the effects of the tropical cyclone lingering in the Mozambican Channel, both he and the paddlers were relieved to be greeted by near flat surf conditions on Friday morning.
“Conditions were still tough though,” said Fenn/Team Jeep’s Burn. “The South Westerly was pumping and the runs were going in completely the opposite direction to the wind so by the time you managed to finally actually get onto a run, you’d already worked so hard and were really tired!”
“I would manage to get away from Nicole on the downwind legs a little but then coming back into the wind she’d manage to catch back up to me.
“We both hit the beach together and fortunately I managed to get out my boat quicker than Nicole did and so got to the line first. Hats off to her though, she really is paddling well at the moment and that was the closest Varsity College Marine Surfski Series I’ve ever had!”
After the hard fought nature of the women’s top ten at the recent Dusi Canoe Marathon, Burn and Russell’s ding-dong battle further emphasizes the belief that women’s paddling in the country is in a very good place at the moment.
With the series title now in the bag Burn is now looking forward to taking advantage of the rare opportunity of competing with husband and fellow top paddler Oliver in the mixed doubles category for the final few races.
“It’s not often Olly and I get to paddle together so we’re looking forward to having some fun together in the next couple of weeks and it will be nice to paddle a little more socially,” said Burn.
“I’ve got KZN Lifesaving Champs this weekend as the next focus and then I’ll have to check the calendar to see what’s next on the cards after that.”
The men’s race saw Epic Kayaks’ Matt Bouman of Umhlanga surge home ahead of Varsity College/Epic Kayaks’ Grant van der Walt and Jean Luc Mauvis while youngster Kyle Friedenstein narrowly held off the charging grandmaster lee McGregor, father of the legendary Hank McGregor.
In the doubles race it was EuroSteel’s Shaun Dias and Wayne Wilson who clinched victory over Dean Chiazzari and Matthew Collins while Ryan Atkins and Julie Cornelius were the first mixed double across the line.
In the 4km short course Sipho Luthuli won the singles category yet again while Mkwaba Banda and Wise Mvubu were victorious in the doubles race.
The IT Works Surfski Challenge, race eight of the 2014 Varsity College Marine Surfski Series, takes place on Friday 28 February at 17h30 at Marine SLC at Addington Beach. More info can be found at www.marineseries.co.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – DIONWIRED SURFSKI CHALLENGE
RACE SEVEN OF THE 2014 VARSITY COLLEGE MARINE SURFSKI SERIES
1.Matt Bouman 37.12
2.Grant van der Walt 37.30
3.Jean-Luc Mauvis 39.21
4.Kyle Friedenstein 39.41
5.Lee McGregor 39.45
1.Michelle Burn 42.44
2.Nicole Russell 42.47
3.Jenna Ward 46.19
1.Shaun Dias/Wayne Wilson 38.54
2.Dean Chiazzari/Matthew Collins 39.50
3.Wayne Ashford/Steven Atkinson 40.39
1.Ryan Atkins/Julie Cornelius 41.19
2.Mark Lewin/Anna Clifford-Arwidi 41.59
1.Jordan Clauson 41.22
2.Brett Wilken (U16) 45.03
3.bailey Michael de Fondaumiere (U16) 45.39
1.Sipho Luthuli 24.12
2.Matthew Moon 24.25
3.Gareth Hazell 25.44
1.Mkwaba Banda/Wise Mvubu 22.08
2.Justin Wenke/Michael Elion 22.54
3.Warrick MacNicol/Carrol Mac 24.50
Durban – With a major bout of Dusi Canoe Marathon fever doing the rounds, the sixth race of the 2014 Varsity College Marine Surfski Series unfolded in a sea of pink as Durban’s paddlers showed their support for the popular Lettie Paddle campaign on Tuesday 11 February.
The Lettie Paddle Surfski Challenge saw Durban’s summer surfski series affiliate itself with a charitable cause for the first time and saw Epic Kayak’s powerhouse Matt Bouman and series female standout Michelle Burn claim comfortable victories in the men’s and women’s clashes respectively.
The Lettie Paddle campaign was started by surfski paddler Danica Bartho when she tackled the testing Richards Bay to Durban race in support of her good friend and fellow paddler Nikki ‘Lettie’ Heynes who is currently fighting against cancer.
Bartho’s aim was to both funds and awareness of the deadly disease whilst also encouraging fellow paddlers and the general public alike to take up a challenge in support of someone they know battling against cancer.
Clad in pink, the colour now commonly associated with cancer awareness, paddlers took up Bartho’s challenge on Tuesday evening and, fittingly, did so in testing conditions, Mother Nature’s metaphor for the challenge those battling cancer are faced with daily, perhaps.
“It is fantastic to welcome Lettie Paddle to our series and we are honoured to be able to support such a great initiative,” said series organiser Barry Lewin.
“Lettie Paddle is a campaign by a paddler for a paddler and it’s great that some of the rest of the paddling fraternity are able to show their support as well!
“The amount of pink clothing, pink hair spray and pink boat stickers we saw this evening just goes to show how close to the hearts of paddlers the Lettie Paddle campaign is and we look forward to working with the initiative closely in the future,” he added.
With regular men’s star Fenn/Team Jeep’s Hank McGregor absent from the line-up as he turns his focus towards the Dusi temporarily, the Umhlanga powerhouse Bouman claimed a comfortable victory despite the tricky conditions.
“That was fun but definitely quite tough!” said Bouman. “There weren’t really any runs out there that were of much assistance. They kind of all over the place.”
Bouman cruised home ahead of Varsity College/Team Jeep’s Grant van der Walt while Wade Krieger, having recently returned home after many years on the Australian lifesaving Iron Man circuit, finishing third, overcoming the potent combination of huge surf, testing swells and the never-ending threat of bluebottles brought in by the North Easterly.
Fenn/Team Jeep’s Burn claimed her fifth victory of the series and is now just a single positive result away from yet another series title with as many as four opportunities to achieve her desired result.
Nikki Russell fought hard against the elements to clinch second place with Bartho claiming a brave third.
Two of EuroSteel’s countless Dusi K2 combinations enjoyed successfully final pre-race hit-outs with Wayne Wilson and Shaun Dias winning the doubles category, finishing ahead of Mark Mulder and Dave Chaplin while Ryan Atkins and Julie Cornelius’ sublime run continued in the mixed doubles division.
Friday 21 February sees the DionWired Surfski Challenge, race seven of the 2014 Varsity College Marine Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 at Addington Beach. More info can be found atwww.marineseries.co.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – LETTIE PADDLE SURFSKI CHALLENGE
RACE SIX OF THE VARSITY COLLEGE MARINE SURFSKI SERIES
1.Matt Bouman 28.14
2.Grant van der Walt 28.48
3.Wade Krieger 29.44
4.Jean Luc Mauvis 29.51
5.Clint Pretorius 30.14
1.Michelle Burn 32.46
2.Nicole Russell 34.16
3.Danica Bartho 36.25
1.Jordan Clauson 34.03
2.Keagan Kok 36.06
3.Brett Wilken (U16) 37.29
1.Wayne Wilson/Shaun Dias 29.40
2.Mark Mulder/Dave Chaplin 30.22
3.Barry Lewin/Lee Furby 30.26
1.Ryan Atkins/Julie Cornelius 33.55
1.Sipho Luthuli 22.47
2.Graham Hooper 25.10
3.Dylan Riddle 26.50
1.Jody Taylor/Duane Taylor 21.28
2.John Cherry/R Rautenbach 22.25
3.Geoffrey Speirs/Nic Tingle 26.44
Durban – Canoe Marathon World Champion Hank McGregor and South African women’s surfski standout Michelle Burn’s dominance of the 2014 Varsity College Marine Surfski Series continued in Friday’s Bay Union Surfski Challenge, race five of the ten-leg series, as they stormed to their fourth victories of competition.
With the rapid growth of women’s surfski paddling in the region, competition amongst KZN’s female stars has also enjoyed a sharp rise in recent years. This increased level of competition amongst the ladies, coupled with a poor start, did however see Burn having to dig far deeper than she had hoped.
“It was nice to get my fourth win of the series but that was much harder than necessary!” chuckled Burn (Fenn/Team Jeep) afterwards.
“I had the worst start ever! I was the last person off the beach because I just wasn’t ready and so, by the time we got out to the first buoy, the other girls already had about 50 meters on me!
“It was great to see so many girls back on the water again but that also meant I really had to work hard to get back up to them!”
“I’d taken a bit of time off at the start of the year but the other girls have been getting just a little too close recently so I started training again this week. Hopefully that will help in a couple of weeks’ time but I really had to work hard this week,” she added light-heartedly.
A North Easterly wind in the hours leading up to the event meant paddlers had to deal with tricky yet enjoyable conditions however the early exertion meant it wasn’t until the second half of the race that Burn was able to take advantage of the open ocean runs and stamp her authority on the encounter.
“Once I finally managed to catch Nikki (Russell) I decided to just sit on her wave for a while to try and recover and only then did I manage to get ahead a little later in the race,” said Burn.
“The North Easter meant conditions were really fun. It was quite tricky going into the wind but I really enjoyed the stretch back from North Beach to Marine,” she added.
Having led the women’s clash initially, Russell crossed the line to claim second place with Danica Bartho (Fenn/Bartho Fish Co.) finishing third.
Like Burn, McGregor (Fenn/Team Jeep) claimed his fourth victory of the series after he cruised home ahead of Matt Bouman (Epic Kayaks) and Grant van der Walt (Varsity College/Epic Kayaks) and now requires just two more positive results from the remaining five races in order to win yet another series title.
Wayne Wilson and Shaun Dias regained the top step of the podium in the doubles category after they edged out Dusi Canoe Marathon combo Adam Nisbet and Len Jenkins while Ryan Atkins and Julie Cornelius stormed to yet another mixed doubles race win.
With the widely anticipated Dusi Canoe Marathon set to take place from Thursday 13 to Saturday 15 February, race six of the series – the Lettie Paddle Surfski Challenge – will instead take place on Tuesday 11 February at 17h30 at Addington Beach.
The series’ affiliation with Lettie Paddle, an initiative started by Danica Bartho in support of her good friend and fellow paddler Nikki Heynes currently fighting against cancer, is the first charitable cause the series has enjoyed and one series organiser Barry Lewin is extremely excited by.
“The Lettie Paddle initiative is one very close to the hearts of many of our paddlers in KZN and we are really looking forward to welcoming the campaign to the series for the first time on Tuesday,” said Lewin.
“Tuesday is all about paddlers showing their support of others they know who are currently fighting the fight against cancer as well as raising awareness about the deadly disease.
“Paddlers are encouraged to really go to town on Tuesday and dress up in pink paddling gear. Pink Funky Pants paddling shorts can also be purchased ahead of the race which, together with wigs, accessories and anything else pink, will really be great to see out on the water!” he added.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – BAY UNION SURFSKI CHALLENGE
RACE FIVE OF THE VARSITY COLLEGE MARINE SURFSKI SERIES
1.Hank McGregor 33.23
2.Matt Bouman 33.41
3.Grant van der Walt 35.00
4.Barry Lewin 36.17
5.Herman Chalupsky 36.35
1.Michelle Burn 40.21
2.Nicole Russell 41.20
3.Danica Bartho 42.20
1.Jordan Clauson 39.03
2.Keagan Kok 43.06
3.Joshua Evered-Hall 43.59
1.Wayne Wilson/Shaun Dias 34.01
2.Adam Nisbet/Len Jenkins 34.09
3.Brett Bartho/Wayne Thompson 34.11
1.Ryan Atkins/Julie Cornelius 38.47
2.Paul Scruby/Angela Scruby 40.52
3.Bruce Jackson/Lindy Bradshaw 45.04
1.Sipho Luthuli 23.53
2.Mitchel Tees 26.31
3.Christopher Walthew 26.40
1.Craig Stuart/Jon Wiseman 22.20
2.Savannah van Rooyen/Luke 22.56
3.Thando Thusi/Lauren Coleby 24.32
Durban – No surf and magnificently flat seas saw Friday evening’s Thule Surfski Challenge, race four of the 2014 Varsity College Marine Surfski Series, turn into a raw, unforgiving 8km sprint which played right into the hands of the remarkably fit Hank McGregor and Michelle Burn as the respective men’s and women’s series defending champions extended their lead at the top of the 2014 standings whilst hundreds of others enjoyed getting back on the water.
With two wins under the belt from the series’ first three races to date, triple Canoe Marathon World Champ Hank McGregor (Fenn/Team Jeep) notched up his third race victory when he narrowly edged out perennial rival Matt Bouman (Epic Kayaks) after a tightly contested affair throughout the two lap dash around Durban’s bay.
The win sees McGregor halfway to achieving yet another series title with paddlers’ best six results from the ten-leg series counting towards the final standings, however there is still plenty to race for for McGregor, particularly as he prepares for the widely spoken about upcoming Dusi Canoe Marathon.
“It’s great to get another win!” said McGregor. “I will obviously have to start taking iot easy for the next couple of weeks before Dusi so it’s nice to be able to get another win under the belt before then.
With no assistance from Mother Nature, McGregor and Bouman were left to square off against one another in the high tempo frenzy where just a single mistake could well end one’s challenge.
“Out there, there were no waves, no swell, no wind. Nothing!” said McGregor. “Not like the last couple of weeks.
“Matthew (Bouman) and I got away from the start so it immediately became a bit of a two horse battle. I then managed to open up a bit of a gap on him at the start of the second lap and by the end had about 150 meters, so I was happy.
“With no assistance from the conditions it was just a good, hard slog the whole way,” he added.
Having been in the mix for his third bottom step of the podium result of the series, series coordinator and Varsity College/Team Jeep athlete Barry Lewin was once again edged out in a hard fought end sprint, this time by Jean-Luc Mauvis while masters star Herman Chalupsky showed why he was regarded as one of the country’s leading paddlers in by-gone years as he crossed the line in fifth just seconds behind Mauvis and Lewin.
Burn (Fenn/Team Jeep) was the shining light in the women’s race once more as she, like McGregor, claimed her third win of the series, finish exactly a minute ahead of Nikki Russell who in turn was a minute ahead of Jenna Ward.
EuroSteel’s Mark Mulder and Dave Chaplin narrowly edged out regular doubles star Wayne Wilson and his partner Shaun Dias in the doubles section, in the process recording their second consecutive victory in the division and giving themselves good confidence ahead of their Dusi assault.
“With the flat conditions out there it was hard to shake someone off your wave. Dave and I felt really good but we just couldn’t get rid of Wayne and Shaun,” explained Mulder.
“It was nice to get the win over them in the end though and now we just can’t wait for Dusi! Bring it on!” he chuckled.
Keagan Kok clinched the junior boys race victory while Ryan Atkins and Julie Cornelius continued their great run of form, claiming yet another mixed doubles race win themselves.
While the conditions created tight, high intensity racing at the front of the field, the respite in the testing surf participants have had to deal with in the first three weeks of the series was welcomed by most and saw numerous novices head out and complete their first 2014 series race, a first race ever for some.
The Bay Union Surfski Challenge, race five of the 2014 Varsity College Marine Surfski Series, takes place at Marine SLC, Addington Beach at 17h30 on Friday 7 February. More info can be found atwww.marineseries.co.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – THULE SURFSKI CHALLENGE
RACE FOUR OF THE 2014 VARSITY COLLEGE MARINE SURFSKI SERIES
1.Hank McGregor 34.30
2.Matt Bouman 34.56
3.Lean-Luc Mauvis 36.53
4.Barry Lewin 36.56
5.Herman Chalupsky 36.59
1.Michelle Burn 40.48
2.Nicole Russell 41.48
3.Jenna Ward 42.50
1.Keagan Kok 40.02
2.Jordan Clauson 40.13
3.Brett Wilken (U16) 42.06
1.Mark Mulder/Dave Chaplin 35.00
2.Wayne Wilson/Shaun Dias 35.06
3.Lee McGregor/Allan Hold 35.46
1.Ryan Atkins/Julie Cornelius 37.55
2.Paul Scruby/Angela Scruby 38.59
3.Derek Hauptfleisch/Lynne Hauptfleisch 44.04
1.Beverley Guest/Louisa van Staden 47.57
1.Sipho Luthuli 22.59
2.Tyron Hudson 23.04
3.Gareth Hazell 23.20
1.Terry McDougall/Michael Lyon 20.48
2.Trent Baird/Sandile Shange 21.39
3.Thando Thusi/Lareun Coleby (Mixed) 22.16