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.
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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