Looking back at 2017 so far, I haven’t put pen to paper on the blog at all. This isn’t like me, so here I go at getting back to sharing my padding journey. This year hasn’t been one of great results yet, so there hasn’t been much to talk about. It has however been one of my most fun paddling years so far, sharing a lot of my time on the water with my Fiancé Carly.
This weekend marked the start of the winter races in Durban, with the HANSA Surfski Challenge at Dairy Beach. I helped put the race together and set a course straight out into the NE wind that had been blowing for over a week.
Durban’s top paddlers turned out with a strong men’s and ladies field, all keen to kick off the season with a bang. The race was a lot of fun with the different course giving the paddlers a fresh new challenge.
Everyone got away cleanly from the backline start and soon a big front bunch of 7 paddlers formed on the way out to the first turn can on lap 1. Matthew Bouman hit the front and made his presence felt, making everyone (especially me sitting on the back of the bunch) work really hard to stay in contact. Matthew was too strong and opened a solid lead on the first downwind leg, taking the event in fine style.
The rest were left to fight for scraps. A long train of paddlers turned the final turn can 3km from the finish, eager to take the remaining podium spots. The youngest of the group, Bailey De Fondaumiere got the jump on the bunch getting into the runs first and opening up a gap he held to take 2nd, (watch this kid this season, he is training hard) with Luke Nesbit 3rd, Wade Krieger 4th, Myself 5th and Gene Prato 6th. I had a great dice for the line with Gene, who knew I could run? The depth in Durban is always strong and it’s going to be a great season with everyone so close.
In the ladies race the seasoned Michelle Burn came out on top of a strong ladies field, followed by Kyeta Purchase in 2nd and Bridgitte Harley in 3rd.
I have a lot to improve on and looking forward to being more competitive in the bunch in the coming weeks, especially if we see the return of my Jeep Team South Africa, team mate Hank McGregor. Hank will surely lift the pace to another level.
It was the first race outing for my Epic Kayaks V12 and I am certainly getting used to the new boat. It consistently amazes me with its stability and responsiveness. I am lucky to have great kit to race with this season!
Watch out for some video footage from the race later in the week.
Next up is the Bay Union Single Challenge on the 7th of May at Marine SLC, see you there!
Pics by Anthony Grote and Sharon Armstrong
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