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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.

World class FNB Durban Downwind battle looms

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

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.

2016R2HankCity

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.

Fitting finale for majestic 2016 Marine Series

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – The 2016 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series came to an end on Friday evening with the Varsity College FNB South African Schools Surfski Championships taking centre stage as the Mark Keeling and Kyeta Purchase became national champions whilst Hank McGregor took the overall spoils in the series.

2016R10Keeling

Keeling finished second the Bailey de Fondaumiere in 2015 however he was too strong for the rest of the schools field as he cantered to a win by just over a minute whilst Kyeta Purchase repeated her win of 2015 as she outgunned the other girls to take the national championship title.

The overall series title was up for grabs as Euro Steel/Epic Kayak’s Hank McGregor was chasing Matt Bouman for the spoils however it was the former who produced the goods to claim yet another Varsity College FNB Series title.

“It was a perfect evening for racing with a light westerly wind blowing,” McGregor said. “There was a great field there and I knew that I was under a bit of pressure because I needed this result if I was going to win.

“It was an awesome evening for racing and I am really glad that I have another title,” he added.

McGregor always knew that he had to finish at the front of the field if he wanted his sixth and final result to count in his favour so when he started the race he made sure that he got himself in front of the rest of the field early.

“I decided that I wanted to deliver the hurt from the beginning of the race as I needed to get myself away.

“I had a great start and got a substantial lead quickly because I really didn’t want to leave it to the final lap because you never know what can happen.

“When I got ahead I just tried to chase down the doubles and the paddlers in the schools race so I always had a marker to chase.

“It was a fantastic win for me and I am glad that I could get another series win!” he added.

The series has become known for its strong field that it accumulates every week and Friday night’s racing was no different.

“It was good to have the likes of Kenny Rice here which just added the strength of the field.

“Being able to race against some of the best surfski paddlers in the world is such a privilege. Taking them on in my own back yard is something that I have always appreciated,” added a satisfied McGregor.

With the focus of the final race being on the SA School’s championships, Hayley Nixon managed to get her second win of the series despite the fact that Nicole Russell had already wrapped up the women’s series title.

The popular short course was won by Nic Riosa whilst the Wilkinson pair of Travis and Rachel were the quickest double across the line.

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

SUMMARY OF RESULTS – VARSITY COLLEGE SURFSKI CHALLENGE
RACE TEN OF THE 2016 VARSITY COLLEGE FNB MARINE SURFSKI SERIES

LONG COURSE
Overall
1.Hank McGregor 32.41
2.Matt Bouman 34.04
3.Kenneth Rice 34.43
4.Wade Krieger 34.47
5.Charl Massyn 34.49
6.Grant van der Walt 35.00
7.Steve Woods 35.19
8.Gene Prato 35.26
9.Darren Swales 36.30
10.Jean Luc Mauvis 36.56

Women
1.Hayley Nixon 38.29

Doubles
1.Thomas Lovemore/Lee McGregor 33.41

Mixed Doubles
1.Jason Ekstrand/Kerry Segal 35.16
2.Lee Furby/Pippa McGregor 37.07
3.Gareth Miles/Raquel Arcediano 38.22

SHORT COURSE
Singles
1.Nic Riosa 21.55
2.Dave Rees 22.08
3.Dylan Riddle 23.10

Doubles
1.Travis Wilkinson/Rachel Wilkinson 20.24
2.Philip Symons/Lauren Norton 20.31
3.Bruce Pender-Smith/Matthew Pender-Smith 21.40

SUPs
Men
1.Daryl Bartho 26.52
2.Brandon Read 27.45
3.Grantley Read 29.16

VARSITY COLLEGE FNB SOUTH AFRICAN SCHOOLS SURFSKI CHAMPIONSHIPS
Under 18 Boys
1.Mark Keeling 35.00
2.Bailey de Fondaumiere 36.01
3.Zachery Preyser 36.23
4.William Wood 37.32
5.Emanuel Zaloumis 39.04

Under Girls
1.Kyeta Purchase 40.45
2.Teegan Hardwick 49.20
Keli Reynolds 58.34

Under 16 Boys
1.Uli Hast 39.16
2.Hamish Mckenzie 42.43
3.Dante Lahore 45.03

Under 16 Girls
1.Tayla Gilmore 48.09

SA’s young surfski stars ready for national schools champs

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – The 2016 Varsity College FNB South African Schools Surfski Championships take place this Friday, 11 March at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club in Durban with talented youngsters from throughout the country eager to stake a claim for this year’s spoils.

2015R10deFondaumiereKeeling

Adding to the hype of the final race of the ten leg 2016 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series, the national schools champs are set to be a ding-dong battle across both the Under-18 and Under-16 age groups.

Durban’s Bailey de Fondaumiere narrowly edged out Cape Town’s Mark Keeling last year and many expect the pair, now both in their final year of school, to once again go head to head for the title.

Carbonology’s De Fondaumiere has been in fine form throughout this year’s Marine Surfski Series, mixing it up with some of the country’s top senior men and clinching multiple top ten finishes along the way.

Meanwhile, Orka Squad’s Keeling focused much of his recent efforts on his Under-18 boys FNB Dusi title winning effort with his partner Mpilo Zondi (Computershare Change a Life Academy) but has shown great form on the ocean as well, often pushing the likes of Kenny Rice, Brandon van der Walt and Stu Maclaren in the Cape’s weekly ADT SeaDog Paddle Series races.

Keeling’s fellow Western Cape ace Zach Preyser is better known for his flat water sprinting abilities but is another to have strong great for in his surfski of late and represents somewhat of a dark horse contender.

East London’s William Wood finished second in the Under-16 clash in 2015 and, having now graduated into the Under-18 age group, is another out-of-towner eager to take on Durban’s local stars of tomorrow for a place on the podium.

Junior girls flyer Kyeta Purchase (Fenn Kayaks), who claimed the Under-16 girls title in 2014 and Under-18 girls crown last year, goes into this year’s championships as favourite to defend her title and walk away national champion.

The Our Lady of Fatima Convent pupil has been in such strong form throughout this year’s Marine Surfski Series that she is currently locked in a battle for second place overall, despite Durban’s wealth of talented senior women’s competitors, and is likely to push some her male junior counterparts this Friday.

Christie MacKenzie and Sabine Lawrie may well battle it out for the remaining Under-18 girls podium positions while the Under-16 age group is likely to see Oli Hart from Cape town feature strongly together with Durban’s Hamish MacKenzie and Dante Lahore.

The 2016 Varsity College FNB South African Schools Surfski Championships take place over an eight kilometer course that starts and finishes in front of Marine SLC at Durban’s Addington Beach on Friday, 11 March. Racing gets underway at 17h30 and more information can be found at www.marineseries.co.za

Maiden win for Nixon, McGregor revives Marine Surfski Series title hunt

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – The Indian Ocean along KwaZulu-Natal’s East Coast was as flat as a mill pond on Friday evening for the Hi-Q Surfski Challenge, race nine of the 2016 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series, with Hayley Nixon’s unrivalled power handing her a maiden race surfski race victory while Hank McGregor’s fourth victory of the series keeps his title hopes alive.

2016R9Hayley

With no wave or swell in sight and hot, humid and windless conditions to contend with, the clash took on a flat water marathon-like facade with Carbonology’s Nixon (nee Arthur) drawing on the strength and power from both her former national rowing days as well as the endless hours of hard work she has put in during her training of late.

Despite some sublime form already having seen her wrap up the women’s 2016 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series title, Fenn Kayaks’ Nicole Russell had no answer to Arthur’s relentless attacks and intensity, ultimately having to settle for second place with Euro Steel/Fenn Kayaks junior star Kyeta Purchase claiming third.

While the series title race may already be over, Arthur and Purchase find themselves locked in a titanic battle for second place with Friday’s result aiding significantly in Arthur’s claim.

Despite there being just one race left in the series, the men’s series spoils are still very much up for grabs with Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks’ McGregor and Epic Kayaks’ Matthew Bouman once again squaring off for this year’s silverware.

A race win earns paddlers’ 100 points while there are 99 points for second place and 98 for third with competitors’ best six results contributing towards their series points total.

McGregor, having only taken part in five races thus far, goes to 499 points after his most recent win while Bouman, having already achieved the minimum six race scores, has an aggregate of 598 points.

A win for McGregor this coming Friday would see him finish on 599 points while if Bouman were to clinch the final race spoils and McGregor finish second, Bouman would claim the title with a final tally of 599 points with McGregor finishing with one point less.

The doubles racing was no less interesting as Zoog Haynes and Linton Hope clinched yet another race win, edging out Shaun Burgin and Lee Muir while junior boys clash went the way of Luke Criticos who held off Bailey de Fondaumiere.

While Friday 11 March sees the curtain come down on the 2016 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series with the mouthwatering action of the Varsity College Surfski Challenge, the day’s programme will also see some of the country’s finest junior talent go head to head during the 2016 South African Schools Surfski Championships.

Both events take place from 17h30 at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, Addington Beach. More information can be found at www.marineseries.co.za

SUMMARY OF RESULTS – HI-Q SURFSKI CHALLENGE
RACE NINE OF THE 2016 VARSITY COLLEGE FNB MARINE SURFSKI SERIES

LONG COURSE
Overall
1.Hank McGregor 36.21
2.Matthew Bouman 36.34
3.Grant van der Walt 38.05
4.Steve Woods 38.16
5.Wade Krieger 39.41

Women
1.Hayley Nixon 42.37
2.Nicole Russell 42.53
3.Kyeta Purchase (U18) 43.53
4.Jenna Ward 45.04
5.Donna Tutton 46.47

Doubles
1.Zoog Haynes/Linton Hope 38.29
2.Shaun Burgin/Lee Muir 38.48
3.Warren Valentine/Marc 40.42

Mixed Doubles
1.Lee Furby/Pippa McGregor 42.18
2.Sharon Armstrong/Carl 44.50
3.Keith Bennett/Lyn Bennett

Junior Boys
1.Luke Criticos 40.01
2.Bailey de Fondaumiere 40.02
3.Hamish MacKenzie (U16) 46.49

Junior Girls
1.Kyeta Purchase 43.53
2.Christie MacKenzie 51.41

SHORT COURSE
Singles
1.Malec Odendaal 23.26
2.Keaton Riddle 24.54
3.Rochard Hogg 25.18

Doubles
1.Mark Lewin/Keli Reynolds 23.49
2.Philip Symons/Lauren Norton 24.10
3.Graeme Johnston/Alastair 25.07

SUPs
Men
1.Nick Park-Ross 28.42
2.Daryl Bartho 28.49
3.Grantley Read 29.51

Women
1.Danica Bartho 33.07
2.Bianca Groeneveld 37.16
3.Karisa Grace (U16) 38.34

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