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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.

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

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUMMARY OF RESULTS
RACE TWO – ILLOVO SUNCOAST PIRATES WALL AND BACK SURFSKI SERIES

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

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

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

Junior Girls
1.Kyeta Purchase 46.45

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

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

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

Krieger and Ward draw first blood at Illovo Wall & Back

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUMMARY OF RESULTS
RACE ONE – ILLOVO SUNCOAST PIRATES WALL AND BACK SURFSKI SERIES

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

Women
1.Jenna Ward 53:08

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

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

Illovo Wall and Back returns for exciting 2016 edition

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DURBAN’S BEST LIFESAVERS BATTLE ON THE BEACH FOR HONOURS

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“They’re the real heroes.”

-ends-

SUMMARY OF RESULTS – RED BULL BEACH PATROL 2016

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

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

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

McGregor bags maiden FNB Durban Downwind success

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

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

2016HankMcGregor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUMMARY OF RESULTS
2016 FNB DURBAN DOWNWIND

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

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

Women’s talent storm hits FNB Durban Downwind

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – Defending champion Michelle Burn is excited to see how the 2016 FNB Durban Downwind women’s race unfolds this weekend as KwaZulu-Natal’s renowned quintet of female paddling talent go head to head for the World Surfski Series title race’s women’s title.

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After organisers confirmed on Thursday morning that the event will take place from 13h00 on Sunday, 26 June, Burn is set to be joined on the start line of the 26km clash from La Mercy Beach to Marine Surf Lifesaving Club by fellow elite racers Nicole Russell, Hayley Nixon, Jenna Ward and Kyeta Purchase.

The five’s pedigree speaks for itself with all having bagged race crowns and podium finishes on both the surfski and marathon racing circuit throughout the past eighteen months.

For Amanzimtoti’s Burn though, this weekend’s clash represents a different challenge to many of her previous paddling tasks, with the veteran surfski competitor expecting to have the best seat in the house from which to view the title race unfold rather than competing for victory herself.

“My focus has shifted a little and I was looking forward to giving the recent Ironman 70.3 in Durban a bit of a go so I haven’t really paddled competitively since November,” explains Burn.

“A silly knee injury I picked up a couple of months ago sadly ruled me out of Ironman though, so when I couldn’t ride I thought I might as well paddle and that’s when I decided to do the Durban Downwind.

“Unfortunately I then picked up a really rare virus and was really ‘man down’ for the last little while, so I really am not in great shape at all at the moment,” the highly decorated surfski competitor chuckles somewhat bewilderedly.

While her recent health troubles, together with forecasts of little wind to help push her along on race day, see the 30 year-old Fenn Kayaks athlete heading into Sunday’s race with a conservative personal outlook.

Burn is however confident a storm of action is set to unfold in front of her as the in-form Russell, Ward and Purchase (all Fenn Kayaks) as well as Nixon (Carbonology Sport) give it their all.

“Hayley (Nixon) is very powerful and will be super strong, especially if its flat while Nikki (Russell) is probably the most consistent of the four across all conditions and her win at the SA Marathon Champs recently showed she has what it takes in flat condition too.

“Jenna (Ward) and Kyeta (Purchase) are obviously incredible paddlers as well and I’m sure they’ll be right up there this weekend but I think Hayley and Nikki go into the race as slight favourites.

“If for some reason the wind gods do bless us with some wind on Sunday then perhaps my years of experience and technical skill will mean I stand a bit of a chance but if there’s not much wind and it is flat, like is expected to be, then I think I’ll just be watching from behind as the others battle it out ahead of me.”

While the majority of the focus will be on the singles racing, Durban’s affinity for doubles racing is likely to draw a healthy S2 field as well, an event that will run concurrently to the S1 clash.

Through the generous support of title sponsors FNB, the first 100 online entrants will receive a complimentary moisture management race garment while R40 000 will be up for grabs across all age and gender categories and all participants stand the chance of claiming one of the various sought-after Thule lucky draws prizes at the event’s prize giving.

Online entries, submitted via www.roag.co.za, close at midday on Friday, 24 June with registration taking place at Marine SLC from 17h00-19h00 on the same day while the 2016 FNB Durban Downwind takes place Sunday, 26 June. More information can be found at www.durbandownwind.co.za.

Aussie Anderson adds FNB Durban Downwind to South African safari

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – Top Australian surfski ace Mark Anderson is sizing up this weekend’s FNB Durban Downwind surfski race, determined to make the most of the weather conditions that will define the character of the 26km challenge while at the same time enjoying the company of the local surfski community that has made it easy for him to be a regular visitor to South African shores.

2015MarkAnderson

Having last raced back in April at the King of the Habour race in New Zealand, the 38 year-old flyer from Narrabeen, Sydney will look to this weekend’s clash to reignite his competitive spark before he takes on important assignments in Mauritius and Portugal in the coming weeks.

A lack of racing recently and little indication of strong winds blowing this weekend, Anderson has set himself some conservative goals for this weekend.

However, a sixth place effort at last year’s FNB Durban Downwind – behind fellow Australian, Michael Booth and a powerful South African quartet – proves the Fenn Kayaks/Oceanpaddler athlete has what it takes to mix it up at the front and should forecasts improve, may well be a factor again in 2016.

“There doesn’t seem like there will be much wind on the weekend unfortunately but it is what it is, its just one of those uncontrollables that you can’t get too concerned about.

“I’ll get the whip out and give it a crack but I need all the help I can get so if it’s flat then it’ll be hard to match the pace of guys like Hank (McGregor) and company.

“Having not raced since New Zealand, I have absolutely no idea how I’ll go this weekend, especially given the expected conditions. Either way though, it will be good get some miles in the arms before Mauritius and Portugal!”

Having jetted in on Tuesday, 14 June and only departing for Mauritius on Wednesday after this weekend’s clash, Anderson has made a point of making the most of his time in SA, both on and off the water.

“I first came to South Africa in 2008 to race but it was just so easy to make friends that I was back again in 2009 and 2010 before taking a bit of a break and then returning again last year and again now,” explains Anderson.

“I arrived last Tuesday, everything lined up perfectly for me for the Scottburgh to Brighton race on Thursday, I went for a paddle on Monday, did a downwind from DUC to Umhlanga on Tuesday evening and I’ll paddle again today (Wednesday), so its been good!

“I also always try and do some stuff outside Durban while I’m here – last year I went up Sani Pass, in 2010n I spent a few days in Cape Town – and so it was absolutely amazing to head up the North Coast and spend two nights at the Zululand Rhino Reserve this time.

“My friends are why I’m here really; the race is just an excuse to come back and is just a sideshow,” he laughs.

While the majority of the focus will be on the singles racing, Durban’s affinity for doubles racing is likely to draw a healthy S2 field as well, an event that will run concurrently to the S1 clash.

Through the generous support of title sponsors FNB, the first 100 online entrants will receive a complimentary moisture management race garment while R40 000 will be up for grabs across all age and gender categories and all participants stand the chance of claiming one of the various sought-after Thule lucky draws prizes at the event’s prize giving.

Online entries, submitted via www.roag.co.za, close on Wednesday, 22 June with registration taking place at Marine SLC on Friday, 24 June from 17h00-19h00.

The 2016 FNB Durban Downwind takes place on 25 or 26 June, the final race date and venue will be announced on the series’ Facebook page on Thursday, 23 June. More information can be found at www.durbandownwind.co.za.

McGregor seeks maiden FNB Durban Downwind crown

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – The FNB Durban Downwind is one of the very few paddling titles in South Africa to have eluded Hank McGregor, something the six-time Canoe Marathon World Champion is eager to rectify when this year’s edition of the World Surfski Series title event takes place on either Saturday or Sunday this weekend.

2016R5McGregor

“The Durban Downwind is a race I’d love to win for sure,” confirms McGregor. “It’s going to be pretty tough though; at this stage conditions look like it’s going to be pretty flat plus a lot of the local guys are in really good shape at the moment.”

“Guys like Matt Bouman and Wade Krieger are both very fit while Steve Woods and Luke Nisbet also showed at Thursday’s Scottburgh to Brighton that they’ve got the miles in them too.

“A local youngster or two may just put their hand up on the day as well and I hear there will also be one or two Aussies (Mark Anderson) on the line, which will add another element to the mix as well.”

Organisers and competitors alike continue to keep a close eye on weather forecasts as they try to best prepare for the weekend’s likely conditions with current predictions suggesting there will be a healthy breeze blowing during the latter part of the week, however there appears to be little wind expected this weekend until Sunday afternoon.

“At this stage it looks like it might be a bit of a slog before having to deal with a bit of swell at the end but it doesn’t matter too much what conditions are like on the day really, if you’ve got the right mindset then you’ll adapt accordingly.

“Anything can happen when it comes to the weather; a buster Westerly could suddenly come through and it could be great downwind conditions or current predictions could be correct and it will be a tough, flat paddle from start to finish – who knows?

“Local knowledge will help a bit if the wind does end up blowing and then current and lines become a factor but if it’s a hard slog, then it comes down to who is the fittest guy on the day!” said Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks’ McGregor.

In 2014 – his only appearance at the race previously – McGregor looked well set to clinch the event’s inaugural title as he led from start to 100 metres from the finish.

A stumbling at the final hurdle – getting through the colossal surf shortly before the finish line on the at La Mercy beach – however proved his undoing and handed Jasper Mocké (Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks) the win instead.

“2014 will definitely be playing on my mind as I prepare this week,” admits McGregor, who trains from his Salt Rock home base. “It can be flat and you’re in the lead the whole way but not even that can guarantee you a win as you could take a swim at the finish.”

“There is a bit of swell around at the moment so if there is some surf at the finish again this weekend then to be safe you’ll need to have enough of a lead that you don’t have to take a chance and can afford to take your time and go in on the back of a wave or wait on the sand bank for the set to go through.

“We’ll just have to wait and see how the weather pans out over the next couple of days and then try to plan accordingly.”

The organisers aim to stage the race in the best available downwind conditions and, as such, a two day window period has been set aside with a final decision on the race date, start time and 26km course – either Marine SLC to La Mercy or vice versa – to be made on Thursday morning.

While the majority of the focus will be on the singles racing, Durban’s affinity for doubles racing is likely to draw a healthy S2 field as well, an event that will run concurrently to the S1 clash.

Through the generous support of title sponsors FNB, the first 100 online entrants will receive a complimentary moisture management race garment while R40 000 will be up for grabs across all age and gender categories and all participants stand the chance of claiming one of the various sought-after Thule lucky draws prizes at the event’s prize giving.

Online entries, submitted via www.roag.co.za, close on Wednesday, 22 June with registration taking place at Marine SLC on Friday, 24 June from 17h00-19h00.

The 2016 FNB Durban Downwind takes place on 25 or 26 June, the final race date and venue will be announced on the series’ Facebook page on Thursday, 23 June. More information can be found at www.durbandownwind.co.za.

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