Durban – Some the best surfski racers in the world will converge on Durban on the weekend of 25 and 26 June for the 2016 FNB Durban Downwind, setting the stage for another world class duel as the World Surfski Series title event draws top elite ocean racers to Durban idyllic wintery conditions for the 26km clash.
With a two day window period and course flexibility, organisers hope to provide participants with the best possible downwind conditions to enjoy between Marine Surf Lifesaving Club (SLC) at Addington beach and La Mercy, or vice versa depending on the wind direction.
Having had two out-of-town winners – Jasper Mocké (Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks) from Fish Hoek, Western Cape in 2014 and Australia’s Michael Booth last year – since its inception two years ago, the richly talented crop of Durban based paddlers will be eager to see the crown remain in the host city this time around.
With six time Canoe Marathon World Champion, Hank McGregor (Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks), McGregor’s regular local rival, Matt Bouman (Epic Kayaks) and rapidly improving lifesaving convert, Wade Krieger (Epic Kayaks/Falcon World Travel) all from KZN shores, the local challenge is set to be a strong one.
The event has however also enjoyed a prominent presence of classy, experienced surfski paddlers from the Western Cape in the past with the likes of Mocké’s brother, Dawid (Fenn Kayaks/Mocké Paddling), Sean Rice (Think Kayak), Kenny Rice (Think Kayak) and junior flyer Mark Keeling having all claimed top ten finishes previously, setting up another tough task for KZN’s racing snakes should they hope to reign supreme.
It remains to be seen if international contenders such as defending champion Booth and fellow Australian and 2014 Durban Downwind sixth place finisher, Mark Anderson will make the trip out to South Africa for this year’s mouth-watering match-up.
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.
Durban – Sunday saw a moderate field take on the world’s oldest surfski race, the Illovo Pirates Umhlanga Pirates Surfski Race, with paddlers encountering some tough conditions with South African surfski ace Hank McGregor claiming the overall win with Nicole Russell finishing as the first lady home.
The race, first raced in 1957, had both a long and short course as well as incorporating a number of long standing traditions which include an earlier 7am start as well as all paddlers receiving soup at the conclusion of the race. The older members of the Pirates Surf Lifesaving Club were present at Sunday’s shoot-out further entrenching the prestige of the 59 year old race.
“It was a good race today with a good following tail wind all the way to Umhlanga,” Euro Steel/Epic Kayak’s Hank McGregor said after his win. “The wind was against the current so you felt like you were going faster than you actually were and then on the return we were with the current but into the wind which made it a pretty tough day out.”
The race had the potential to be another humdinger between McGregor and fellow Durban ace and Epic Kayak’s Matt Bouman however the race went according to plan for McGregor who managed to get himself ahead early and boss the race until the finish line.
“I managed to get quite a big lead on Matt Bouman early and then I turned with the doubles so that gave me a good incentive into the final leg.
“Myself and the leading double just sat together until the finish.
“It was a really solid day for me and I am really happy to get another win here even though I am still battling with a bit of jet lag,” a satisfied McGregor added following his recent return from the Molokai in Hawaii.
McGregor’s focus now shifts to canoe marathon as he prepares for the South African Marathon Championships in Cape Town next weekend however his immediate calendar is still dominated by surfski races.
“We have the South African Marathon Champs which is also the national trial so I will hopefully be selected to go and defend my world marathon title.
“Despite this my calendar is chock-a-block with surfski races with the Scottburgh to Brighton the following week, then Durban Downwind and the I’m off to Mauritius so my schedule is really busy!” the star mentioned.
Bouman took the second placed position whilst Wade Krieger came home in third with the doubles race spoils going to Steve Woods and Bailey de Fondaumire with Shaun Dias and Matthew Elliot finishing second and Lee Furby and Quinton Rutherford finishing third.
The ladies race was won by Fenn Kayak’s Nicole Russell with the mixed doubles spoils going to Russell’s Fenn Kayak’s team mate Jenna Ward and Brett Hadiaris.
The Illovo Pirates Umhlanga Pirates fell the day after paddlers from around the world united to raise awareness of the environment and the plight of the world’s oceans for a relay event called Paddle for the Planet.
The 59th edition of the Illovo Pirates Umhlanga Pirates is the lead in race to the 2016 FNB Durban Downwind on 25-26 June 2016.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – Illovo Pirates Umhlanga Pirates Surfski Race
1.Steve Woods/Bailey de Fondaumire
2.Shaun Dias/Matthew Elliot
3.Lee Furby/Quinton Rutherford
1.Jenna Ward/Brett Hadiaris
1.Mark Backman/Roger McGregor
Durban – Hank McGregor and Lee Furby clinched the win at the Bay Union Doubles Race at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club on Sunday, bringing down the curtain on the 2016 Bay Union Surfski Series while Kyeta Purchase and Tamryn McKie as well as Jenna Ward and Luke Nisbet won the women’s and mixed race crowns.
After the series’ fourth leg was cancelled due to the torrential rains that ravaged much of KZN’s coastline last weekend, the race – previously planned to be a Team Challenge – was changed to race four’s original doubles format.
McGregor (Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks), along with much of the region’s surfski community, relished the rare S2-orientated opportunity and jumped at the chance to tackle the clash with his buddy and fellow Salt Rock resident, Furby before the pair jet off to Hawaii for the upcoming Maui Kim Molokai Challenge.
“Both Lee and I leave for Molokai on Tuesday,” said McGregor. “This is only a fifteen kilometer race and we’ve got to race 52km over in Hawaii but its nice to leave SA with a win and to have enjoyed a solid race with a great friend like Lee was awesome!”
McGregor and Furby were pushed all the way by Epic Kayaks’ Matthew Bouman and sprint star Louis Hattingh with just the final surge for the line the difference between the pairs in the end.
“There were two boats for the last ten kilometres before we managed to get the upper hand for the last kilometer and a half.
“I thought Matthew, with South African sprinter Louis Hattingh in the back, might have had the gas to come past us.
“They tried to do so for the last kilometer or so but we managed to hold them off and so it came down to a wave at the end.
“We had the lead pulling into it and so we hooked the wave while they came off second best,” said McGregor.
Under-23 paddler Gene Prato and Carbonology Sport junior Bailey de Fondaumiere combined well to clinch third while the first mixed pair – Ward and Nisbet – finished fourth.
Purchase and McKie were unrivalled in the women’s race with the star youngster enjoying the chance to expose the latter to the sharp end of the field for the first time.
“The surf was beautiful, the whole day was beautiful, and it was just great to paddle with Tammy (McKie)!” said Purchase.
“This is the longest distance Tammy has ever raced, so it was great to put her in the back of the double and show her what it is all about.”
Brett Evans and Jarryd Gibson were the first junior crew to complete the 15km long course event while the short course doubles spoils went to Timothy Bouch and AC Lawson with Keaton Riddle again claiming the 7km singles win.
The race’s action concludes the five-leg Autumn series backed by Bay Union Financial Series with the next major event on the KZN surfski calendar being the FNB Durban Downwind – a World Surfski Series title event – which takes place on Saturday, 25 and Sunday, 26 June 2016.
More information can be found at www.pitchandpaddle.co.za.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – BAY UNION DOUBLES CHALLENGE
RACE FIVE OF THE 2016 BAY UNION SURFSKI SERIES
1.Hank McGregor/Lee Furby 1:02.05
2.Matthew Bouman/Louis Hattingh 1:02.15
3.Gene Prato/Bailey de Fondaumiere 1:04.15
4.Jenna Ward/Luke Nisbet (Mixed) 1:06.35
5.Jason Ekstrand/Richard Lowe 1:06.45
1.Jenna Ward/Luke Nisbet 1:06.35
2.Zoog Haynes/Christie MacKenzie 1:13.04
3.Jody Taylor/Kerry Segal
1.Kyeta Purchase/Tamryn McKie
1.Brett Evans/Jarryd Gibson 1:09.56
2.Hamish MacKenzie/Kelly Tarr (U16) 1:16.20
1.Irvin Dixon 1:13.58
2.Neil Evans 1:16.44
3.Michel de Rauville 1:17.03
1.Timothy Bouch/AC Lawson 51.08
2.Hamish Lovemore/Charlotte Lovemore 52.56
3.Neil Greig/Gavin Botha 53.15
1.Keaton Riddle 52.47
2.Chris Walthew 56.25
3.Justin Lucken 56.55
Durban – Matt Bouman grabbed his first win in the Bay Union Surfski Series by taking advantage of superb weather conditions and his ingrained ability handling the surf to win the novel Lion of Africa Surf Challenge, while junior Kyeta Purchase pulled off a stunning come-from-behind move to take the women’s title.
Bouman (Epic Kayaks) had to assert himself early on to get away from team mate Wade Krieger, winner of the first leg of the five race series, with Luke Nisbet snapping at both of their heels throughout.
Bouman ground out a lead on the downwind leg to the turning buoy close to the mouth of the uMgeni River, and then saw that erased as they turned for home.
“I opted for a deep line to the top turn-can, but the can wasn’t where I expected it to be,” said Bouman. “Fortunately Luke (Nisbet) was following me but Wade (Krieger) took his own initiative and went straight to the buoy which nullified any advantage we had earned.”
The organisers of the Lion of Africa Surf Challenge set out to test each paddler’s skills in the surf, and set a course that required them to turn around two markers in the surf zone on South Beach and Addington Beach.
His superior surf skills allowed Bouman to get away from his two chasers to canter home to an impressive minute-and-a-half win.
“It was good fun on the home leg when we had to do some surf slalom around some terrified gentlemen holding the surf turn-flags. I had the luxury of a lead going into the last turn and could watch the other two fighting it out for second.”
Bouman said he thrived on the high standard of surfski racing in the series, saying that Durban boasted some of the world’s best.
“We race at such a high level week in a week out, in this great surfski culture in Durban. That’s the key to why we can produce world-beaters,” he said.
Bouman said the absence of Hank McGregor, who was attending a family wedding, had changed the character of the race.
“Sometimes it is actually harder to paddle without that edge that is always there when you are racing Hank (McGregor),” said Bouman.
Krieger out-sprinted Nisbet to the line to claim second, with Czech Republic marathoner Jakub Adam coming back from a poor start in the surf to claim fourth, ahead of junior Bailey de Fondamiere.
In the women’s race, Nikki Russell (Fenn Kayaks/Mocké Paddling) looked to be controlling the race with schoolgirl Kyeta Purchase (Euro Steel) on her wave throughout race, with team mate Jenna Ward keeping both of them honest.
After doing most of the work in the race, Russell looked to have the upper hand as they turned at the last turn-can and headed back to the beach finish at Addington Beach.
Purchase however latched onto a decent sized wave and rode it beautifully, allowing her first to erase Russell’s lead and then blitz past her to claim the overall women’s spoils.
“The whole race while I was paddling with her I was hoping to be able to leave it to the last wave,” said a relieved Purchase.
“At the first surf turn she dropped me, then she got hit by a wave at the second surf turn and I managed to catch back up to her,” she said.
While elated to have won the overall women’s class Purchase said the elite women contesting the Sunday morning titles were all team mates and training partners.
“We never know who is going to win it every Sunday but at least we know that it will be one of our team mates. That’s really cool,” said Purchase, who’s surfski calendar is part of her preparations for the marathon world Championships in Brandenberg in Germany in September.
Louis Hattingh, the 2014 Junior marathon K2 world champ, won the Worst Wave Award for a novel start that saw him leap straight over his ski during the lifesaving style start, and then repeat that feat in the reverse direction.
A good sized field enjoyed the superb weather and mild ocean conditions for the 12km long course and 6km short races as the province breathed a sigh of relief after the cold front that swept over the region released its grip.
The fourth leg of the series is the Bay Union Dairy Doubles Surfski Challenge based at Dairy Beach on Sunday 8 May 2016.
More information can be found at www.pitchandpaddle.co.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
LION OF AFRICA SURF CHALLENGE
LONG COURSE MEN’S SINGLES
1.Matt Bouman 51:18
2.Wade Krieger 52:41
3.Luke Nisbet 52:46
4.Jakub Adam 53:41
5.Bailey De Fondaumiere 54:08
6.Luke Criticos 54:32
7.Gene Prato 54:55
8.Thomas Lovemore 55:57
9.Irvin Dixon 56:01
10.Louis Hattingh 56:21
LONG COURSE WOMEN’S SINGLES
1.Kyeta Purchase 59:56
2.Nikki Russell 1:00:01
3.Jenna Ward 1:02:22
LONG COURSE DOUBLES
1.Jason Ekstrand/Richard Lowe 52:46
2.Linton Hope/Bruce Wenke 54:13
3.Bryce Hatton/Marc Stanton 55:12
4.Barry Lewin/Carly Davidson 56:30
5.Tyler Wilson/Garnett Wilson 56:34
1.Ian Greig/Neil Greig 31:26
2.Byron Volek/Bridgette Parker 33:40
3.Ken Reynolds/Caitlin Borain 34:03
1.Jon Ivins 44:45
2.Kade Burnett 51:11
Durban – Wade Krieger and Hayley Nixon bagged maximum log points in the series-opening Bay Union Season Starter at Addington Beach on Sunday, making the most of the benign ocean conditions to grind out wins against a big field of surfski enthusiasts.
Krieger was drawn into a tussle with Herman Chalupsky at the front of the men’s single ski race, both eager to take full advantage of the absence of series stalwarts Hank McGregor and Matt Bouman.
Chalupsky took the lead early on in the first lap, consisting of a leg straight out to sea followed by a downwind sector back to eThekwini beach, before Krieger made his move and surged to the front.
“It was a tough race,” said Krieger afterwards. “Herman (Chalupsky) was tactically better in the runs, but I managed to make up that fifteen metres after the turning buoy.
“Then I pulled to the top and I think my surf skills helped in the end and I managed to get onto a wave coming in and run up the beach to the finish to claim the win,” the Team Epic/Falcon World Travel athlete said.
“I like to take it one race at a time,” said Krieger. “I am injury-free at the moment, feeling strong and I can only improve from here.
“Next weekend is the 21km Bay Union King of the Bay, so I will have to taper a bit this week because you can never underestimate that type of distance,” said Krieger.
The women’s title fell to Hayley Nixon in a dominant performance that saw her race to the front early on and consolidate an impressive victory to kick-start a season in which she plans to focus heavily on her surfski racing.
“We had a great tussle on the leg out to the turning can, and as we got into the downwind leg in managed to pull a bit of a gap on Nikki Russell.
“She came back strongly but luckily I was able to maintain the gap and take the win,” said Nixon.
She said that the high standard of racing amongst the elite women who contest the Bay Union Surfski Series was going to make for a very competitive five race programme.
“You are not supposed to come good in the first race of the series because then there is pressure for the rest of the series!” she mused.
The outing was encouraging for Nixon as she sets her sights on a number of international surfski races. It was also a perfect start for her in her new Carbonology team colours, with her team mate Bailey de Foundaumiere adding “Hayley and Bailey” swag to the team haul by winning the junior boys title.
Classy Durban schoolgirl Kyeta Purchase (Fenn Kayaks) romped to a comfortable win the junior girls division, finishing third overall in the women’s race.
Fastest over the 12km long course was the doubles crew of Barry Lewin and Clinton Cook.
The race got the hugely popular winter Sunday morning Bay Union Surfski Series season under way with a bang as a big field of paddlers of all abilities took advantage of the mild surf and gentle ocean conditions to enjoy the series pipe-opener under cool overcast skies.
The race organisers laid on a novel two leg course that took advantage of the prevailing downwind conditions and a novel crossing of Vetch’s Reef on the second lap, as part of a commitment to ensure that each race in the series has unique characteristics and appeal to the regular surfski paddlers.
With an emphasis on fun, there was plenty of friendly banter, with some eager paddlers dressing up in fancy-dress for the occasion.
The second leg of the series is the Bay Union King of the Bay hosted by Stella Canoe Club on Sunday 24 April, which affords surfski paddlers the once-a-year opportunity to paddle across Durban harbour and out through the harbour mouth.
More information can be found at www.pitchandpaddle.co.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
MAY UNION SERIES STARTER
LONG COURSE MEN’S SINGLES
1.Wade Krieger 53:22.31
2.Herman Chalupsky 53:35.37
3.Gene Prato 53:47.88
4.Luke Nisbet 53:48.33
5.Bailey De Fondaumiere 55:03.52
6.Jakub Adam 55:12.82
7.Thomas Lovemore 55:44.65
8.Jason Ekstrand 56:11.97
9.Steve Woods 56:15.87
10.Louis Hattingh 56:33.84
LONG COURSE WOMEN’S SINGLES
1.Hayley Nixon 59:34:13
2.Nikki Russell 1:00:18
3.Kyeta Purchase 1:01:17
LONG COURSE DOUBLES
1.Barry Lewin/Clinton Cook 52:17.22k
2.Linton Hope/Bruce Wenke 55:02.22
3. Zoog Haynes/Christie Mackenzie 55:53.66
4.Bryce Hatton/Marc Stanton 56:03.24
5.Allan Hold/Geoff Thompson 56:13.66
1.Nicholas Horn/D.Bindley 33:38
2.Cameron Hudson 33:49
3.Ian Grieg/Neil Grieg 34:20