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Purchase wins tough ladies Marine head-to-head

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – Young paddling sensation Kyeta Purchase showed her temperament in difficult conditions after she took advantage of a Nicole Russel blunder to take her second win of the 2016 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series with victory at the Hansa Surfski Challenge on Friday evening.


The north-easterly wind reared its head providing some testing conditions for the big field that turned up however a mistake from Fenn Kayak’s Russell on the way in paved the way from Purchase to sneak home and secure another win.

“The race was quite difficult and I was a bit tired going into it but it went well which was good,” the Euro Steel star mentioned.

“I didn’t see Nicole coming in and I saw a break so I went hard and then I saw her swimming so I knew that I had to go hard to get up the beach and across the line first.

“Conditions were good, quite rough and a bit up and down getting to the third buoy but I enjoyed it,” Purchase explained.

Despite a swim when the race was in her grasp, Russell was very diplomatic about the outcome.

“The finish was a bit of a disaster for me because after my swim I lost my boat which meant that Kyeta passed me in the surf but it happens in paddling, I guess,” she mentioned.

The men’s race was won by Durban paddling stalwart Wade Krieger who managed to pull away from Barry Lewin on the second lap to give himself his first win of the series.

Despite a watered down field Krieger was still happy with the win and with that he has opened his account for 2016 with six of your best results to count.

“Very stoked to get my first win of the series ,” Krieger said. “Even if a few guys are absent and the field is a little bit weaker it is still good to get a win.”

The race at the front was tight as Jeep Team’s Barry Lewin managed to reign in Krieger however the latter put in a good surge to pull clear of Lewin on the second lap handing him an advantage that he would not relinquish.

“I had a great start and was in the right place off the start with the water being a little bit deeper and got out first.

“I managed to work the runners well across the beach and then Barry managed to catch me on the first lap and on the last lap I decided to focus on myself and put my head down,” he added.

Despite his win and the chance of an overall title Krieger does not see the overall title as his main priority with getting back to top form being a major goal of his and the series win would be a positive by-product.

“ think that I am in with a shout at the overall title but n even higher priority is to try and get that spark back – I wasn’t feeling 100% today and I know that if I get that spark back then I will be happy,” mentioned Krieger.

The Thule Surfski Challenge, race four of the 2016 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday 29 January Marine SLC, Addington Beach. More information can be found at www.marineseries.co.za


1.Wade Krieger 35.42
2.Barry Lewin 36.35
3.Luke Nisbet 36.50
4.Jason Ekstrand 37.29
5.Brett Bartho 38.41
6.Oliver Burn 39.01
7.Nic Burden 39.28
8.Paul Rabinonitz 40.05
9.Jordan Clauson 40.07
10.Richard Lowe 40.46

1.Kyeta Purchase 41.59
2.Nicole Russell 42.14
3.Vanessa Mayhew 54.04

Junior Boys
1.Luke Criticos 41.11

Junior Girls
1.Kyeta Purchase 41.59

1.Zoog Haynes/Linton Hope 36.07
2.Shaun Burgin/Lee Muir 36.58
3.Brice Hatton/Marc Stanton 36.59

Mixed Doubles
1.Lee McGregor/Sabina Lawrie 38.05
2.Ian Marais/Taneal Marais 43.44
3.Mark Xantho/Lyn Bennett 44.03

1.Keaton Riddle 25.10
2.Brendan Sharp 25.26
3.Jeffrey Maingard 25.33

1.Calvin Mckie/Tamryn Mckie 23.15
2.Bruce Pender-Smith/Matthew Pender-Smith 26.01
3.Patrick Palmer/Brandon Palmer 28.34

1.Daryl Bartho 31.26
2.Brandon Read 31.28
3.Nick Pack-Ross 32.47

1.Jackie de Billot 35.28
2.Lande Williamson 45.35
3.Angela Whittle 53.29

Durban arrives in numbers for 2016 Marine Surfski Series opener

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – The much anticipated 2016 surfski season on the KwaZulu-Natal coast got underway on Friday evening when 275 of Durban’s eager surfski community tackled the FNB Surfski Challenge, race one of the Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series, a clash that also saw Matt Bouman and Kyeta Purchase open their accounts with early season race victories.


A string of strong showings in the final few clashes of the Western Cape season in late December and a return to his favoured Indian Ocean waters, Epic Kayaks’ Bouman was full of confidence ahead of the commencement of the Durban season and made light work of his nearest rivals in the idyllically flat and novice-friendly conditions.

Bouman charged home ahead of former surf lifesaving sensation and ever-improving surfski ace Wade Krieger and Gene Prato while Jason Ekstrand secured fourth position and Grand Master flyer Lee McGregor secured yet another remarkable result as he rounded out the top five.

The women’s clash was another display of the extraordinary depth of ladies paddling talent in Durban with the race signaling another significant milestone in the series’ history as the growth in depth in women’s paddling in the region of late saw the series offer a dedicated ladies batch for the first time ever.

Up front, junior sensation Purchase edged out Fenn Kayaks team Jenna Ward for victory while emerging star Hayley Arthur claimed third place ahead of Donna Tutton and Sabina Lawrie while Sharon Armstrong and Lynne Hauptfleisch edged out Kelly Biljoen and Wilma Deysel in the women’s doubles race.

“Conditions were absolutely perfect, you couldn’t have asked for better!” said Purchase. “There was a small wave on the way out and then a slight bump – which you had to work quite hard to catch – on the way down to the bottom can, and then very manageable surf on the way in again.”

“I’m training with the seniors every day so it’s nice to be able to mix it up with them and compare where I am against them in the races too.

“I’ve been training really hard during the festive season – twice a day, every day – so I’ve got a good base, even if I am a little tired, coming into the series!

“The Marine Surfski Series is my favourite series of them all, the one I enjoy the most, so it would be nice to try win it this year, even though I am still a junior!” she added.

Durban’s legendary doubles racing scene served up yet another tough contest as the mixed crew of Brandon van der Walt, now based in Cape Town, and Ward’s 2016 FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon partner, Vanda Kiszli of Hungary held of the veteran pairs of Linton Hope and Zoog Haynes and Lee Muir and Shaun Burgin.

Van der Walt’s older brother Grant, himself a former Marine Surfski Series top contender, was another familiar face making a welcome to the mix return via the mixed doubles category as he and girlfriend Heidi Bird tackled the 8km challenge while former surfski stars Daryl and Danica Bartho also enjoyed a share of the action when they tackled the stand up paddleboard (SUP) contest.

The 4km short course also saw some tight racing unfold with Patrick McNeill clinching the win in the singles race while Bruce and Matthew Pender-Smith were the first double across the line.

The Borland Surfski Challenge presented by Marriott, race two of the 2016 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday, 15 January at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, Addington Beach. More information can be found at www.marineseries.co.za


1.Matt Bouman 35.45
2.Wade Krieger 36.18
3.Gene Prato 38.01
4.Jason Ekstrand 38.28
5.Lee McGregor 39.05
6.Irvin Dixon 39.09
7.Luke Criticos (U18) 39.11
8.Oliver Burn 39.49
9.Bailey de Fondaumiere 40.02 (U18)
10.Clinton Cook 40.14

1.Kyeta Purchase (U18) 42.09
2.Jenna Ward 42.13
3.Hayley Arthur 42.38
4.Donna Tutton 43.58
5.Sabina Lawrie 48.06

1.Brandon van der Walt/Vanda Kiszli (HUN) (Mixed) 36.48
2.Linton Hope/Zoog Haynes 37.21
3.Lee Muir/Shaun Burgin 38.45
4.Derek Holmes/Gavin Searle 39.07
5.Matthew Elliott/Jody Taylor 39.19

Mixed Doubles
1.Brandon van der Walt/Vanda Kiszli (HUN) 36.48
2.Shaun Dias/Anke Malan 41.54
3.Thando Thusi/Lauren Coleby 42.18
4.Grant van der Walt/Heidi Bird 43.55
5.Yohan Keulder/Louisa van Staden 44.21

Women’s Doubles
1.Sharon Armstrong/Lynne Hauptfleisch 49.41
2.Kelly Biljoen/Wilma Deysel 51.09

1.Patrick McNeill 24.36
2.Keaton Riddle 25.26
3.Lucky Mabuya 25.43

1.Bruce Pender-Smith/Matthew Pender-Smith 24.01
2.Bruce Robertson/Kim Robertson 26.46
3.Patrick Palmer/Brandon Palmer 27.16

International flavour savours Durban Downwind Series finale

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – The final race of the 2015 FNB Durban Downwind Series saw some fantastic downwind conditions as paddlers made their way from La Mercy on the North Coast to the Marine Surf Lifesaving Club on Saturday with Australian Michael Booth narrowly claiming a beach sprint over Matt Bouman with Michelle Burn showing her class to claim victory in the women’s race on Saturday.


In what were epic conditions the men’s race was a tightly contested affair all the way to Marine however it was the young Australian who managed to hold his nerve and just pip Bouman with Western Cape surfski hero Dawid Mocké finishing in third.

“It was great to beat the ‘Saffas’ on their home turf,” Booth chuckled. “Getting a win here is a great step forward to me as it was my first international win so I am really happy.

“The race was really good and it was a straight dice up the beach which was exciting,” he added.

Booth has been a serious follower of the World Surfski Series and so getting those all important points was the main goal when coming to South Africa however the young Australian got more than he bargained for and thoroughly enjoyed his race.

“The conditions were fantastic out there, exactly what you want from a downwind actually.

“Some good swells and some favourable winds meant that we could really have a good go and it was anyones race right up to the beach but I heard Matt injured his calf a few months back so that gave me an advantage.

“Who knows what would have happened if he was fit!” Booth concluded.

With some World Surfski Series points on the line Fenn Kayak’s Michelle Burn once again proved that she is in the form of her life as she pulled off her second masterclass race in two weeks to back up her win in Mauritius last weekend however she was quick to say that the conditions were in her favour.

“The conditions in the past two weeks have definitely given me a bit of an advantage considering that I enjoy a bit of a bump and I am sure that if it had been flatter we could have seen different results.

“I haven’t had as much time in the boat as a lot of the other girls so being able to use my wave riding skills was something that I could rely on and not just pure fitness so that was good for me,” she explained.

Although she was well clear of Nikki Russell, who finished second, Burn did not see the race as that straight forward and spent quite a bit of the race having to battle to pick up some runs as well as getting in a good enough position for the run in to Marine.

“It was not as simple as it could have been,” she chuckled. “It was some hard work out there but it seemed like it was hard for a lot of paddlers.

“I had a little swim at the beginning but it wasn’t a problem and I’m just really happy with the win!” she said.

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


1.Michael Booth (AUS) 1:28.47
2.Matthew Bouman 1:28.50
3.Dawid Mocké 1:29.38
4.Jasper Mocké 1:30.36
5.Tom Schilperoot 1:30.49
6.Mark Anderson (AUS) 1:31.24
7.Herman Chalupsky 1:34.05
8.Wade Krieger 1:34.31
9.Gene Prato 1:36.17
10.Mark Keeling 1.:38.57

1.Michelle Burn 1:46.26
2.Nikki Russell 1:49.50
3.Danica Bartho 1:54.12
4.Sharon Armstrong 1:58.00

1.Ross Fountain/Brett Hadiaris 1:34.38
2.Bryce Hatton/Marc Stanton 1:35.34
3.Matthew Collins/Carl Folscher 1:38.51

Krieger & Arthur rule the roost in Winklespruit

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Winklespruit – The ET Security/Andre’s Electrical Winkle Surfski Challenge, the penultimate race of the five leg 2015 FNB Durban Downwind Surfski Series, saw the fourth race winner crowned in as many races when Wade Krieger claimed his maiden victory of this year’s series while Hayley Arthur secured a second consecutive race win in the women’s clash.


Krieger made the transition from surf lifesaving to surfski relatively recently however his consistency and willingness to learn has seen him become a regular presence amidst KZN’s world class field of elite paddlers.

With many of the province’s top athletes absent from Winklespruit’s start line due to their participation in the weekend’s Mauritius Ocean Classic and having seen victory slip through his finger two weekends ago at the Seabreeze Build it 5 Beaches, Krieger wasn’t about to miss out on his first race win of this year’s series this time despite Winklespruit local Gene Prato breathing down his neck throughout.

“It was really nice to get the win!” said Krieger. “Other than a four to five foot wave at the start, it was quite a long, hard grind out there.”

“The organisers opted for a backline start and the junior double (Brett Evans and Jarryd Gibson) got away really quickly so Gene (Prato) and I tucked in behind them and sat in the slipstream for a bit before I then took the initiative and took up the pull for most of the rest of the way.

“I made a bit of a mistake coming in to the finish though and went a bit wide which meant Gene could come through on my inside which forced me to take a bit of a risk.

“Fortunately it paid off though and I managed to get a fifteen meter gap on him right at the end but as I got to the beach I had extreme dead-leg which resulted in a sprint up the beach that thankfully I managed to win by a meter in the end,” he added.

On top of his enjoyment for competition, Krieger has relished the fresh challenge the FNB Durban Downwind Surfski Series has presented and paid tribute to the organisers of the series’ South Coast clashes in particular.

“I see every race as an opportunity to become a better paddler and I’ve really enjoyed the different challenge that racing on the south Coast brings,” he said.

“The people on the South Coast have really taken the initiative and put on some really great races and hats off to them for putting the effort for us!”

For Arthur, her back-to-back victories in the women’s race will give her good confidence ahead of next weekend’s series feature race – the FNB Durban Downwind – as she looks to take on some of the sport’s top female competitors, including a resurgent Michelle Burn (Fenn Kayaks) who claimed a win of her own this weekend when she reigned supreme in Mauritius.


Young Evans and Gibson make light work of the rest of the doubles pairings to claim the category’s victory over Ross and Bruce Poacher while Skye Prato – father of singles runner-up Gene Prato – and Alastair Caddick finished third.

All the attention now turns to the series fifth and final race, the FNB Durban Downwind, next weekend with racing set to take place on either Saturday 11 or Sunday 12 July depending on when the wind is expected to be most suitable. The final race date and venue will be announced on the series’ Facebook page on Thursday while more information can be found at www.durbandownwind.co.za


1.Wade Krieger 1:07.10
2.Gene Prato 1:07.11
3.Greg Worthington 1:13.55
4.Neil Evans 1:14.29
5.Ross Fountain 1:15.42

1.Hayley Arthur 1:17.37

1.Brett Evans/Jarryd Gibson (U18) 1:07.24
2.Ross Poacher/Bruce Poacher 1:14.22
3.Skye Prato/Alastair Caddick 1:20.50

1.Roy Carty 50.40

McGregor gets onto 2015 Durban Downwind scoreboard

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – South African paddling great Hank McGregor notched up his first win of the 2015 FNB Durban Downwind Surfski Series on Saturday when clinched victory in the Zurich Pirates Umhlanga Pirates clash while rowing convert Hayley Arthur claimed the women’s spoils.


Having missed the five-leg series’ first two encounters on KZN’s South Coast McGregor was eager to put in a strong showing at the world oldest ever surfski race across Durban’s bay and back.

“Pirates Umhlanga Pirates is such an iconic race so it was great to come down and be a part of this year’s race!” said the Jeep Team/Epic Kayaks ace.

“I took it quite easy on the way to Umhlanga and Matthew (Bouman), my dad (Lee McGregor) and I turned about a minute behind Steve (Woods) and Wade (Krieger).

“On the way back I looked to push the pace a little more and it was nice to get the win in the end!” he added.

While the second half of the year’s calendar includes some major obstacles such as the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Hungary, the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships in Taihiti and the Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon in the Eastern Cape, the Mauritius Ocean Classic is McGregor’s immediate focus.

McGregor believes his Pirates Umhlanga Pirates effort will aid in his preparation for the upcoming island assignment however making the journey with his wife Pippa and young son Thorsten is something he paddling sensation is looking forward to as well.

“On Monday I leave for the Mauritius Classic with the whole family. It will be Thor’s first international trip and our first real trip as a family so Pippa and I really excited and looking forward to a good week over there!”

Throughout the return leg from Umhlanga McGregor was chased hard by Epic Kayaks/SMG’s Matt Bouman however in the end the Salt Rock resident was too strong for his Umhlanga counterpart.

Bouman crossed the line in second ahead of Epic Kayaks’ Wade Krieger while Steve Woods and great-grandmaster competitor Lee McGregor rounded out the top five while young Bailey de Fondaumiere claimed yet another junior boys’ race victory.

With Fenn Kayaks’ Jenna Ward and young Kyeta Purchase opting to get some invaluable time in the boat together ahead of the Marathon World Champs pairing, Arthur sailed home to clinch the women’s race spoils.

“I didn’t have a great start as I fell out my ski in the surf and then just could not get back in,” chuckled Arthur afterwards. “Once I finally got going then I absolutely loved it, the conditions really suited me in the sense that there was a slight headwind going there and then a light tail wind coming back.”

“I paddled a lot of the way on my own but was then very lucky to find a bunch of doubles and just worked our way towards the finish line.

“I absolutely loved the race and very glad we came down today; it was great preparation for not only the FNB Durban Downwind in a couple of weeks’ time, but Marathon World Champs a little later in the year as well!” added the Fenn Kayaks/Carbonology Sport paddler.

Ward and Purchase went on to win the women’s doubles category and Ryan Atkin and Louisa van Staden the mixed doubles while the overall doubles spoils went to under-18 pair Luke Criticos and Thomas Lovemore who edged out Bruce Wenke and Linton Hope.

Race organiser and chairman of host club Suncoast Pirates, Anton Fouche, deemed the day was another great memorable chapter in the race’s age-old history.

“The Pirates Umhlanga Pirates is the oldest surfski race in the world. It started in 1957 and it was lovely to be able to run the traditional route once more this year,” said Fouche.

“Gawie Botha always used to provide soup and rolls at the finish and we’ve looked to continue that tradition here today, which appears to have been really well received by the paddlers.

“We’re really stoked to have had Zurich – a well-established brand in the insurance game – come on board as race sponsor and support us so generously. Their support has enabled us to put on a really good show again here today,” he added.

The ET Security Winkle Challenge, race four of the 2015 FNB Durban Downwind Surfski Series, takes place on 4 or 5 July. The final race date and venue will be announced on the series’ Facebook page on Thursday while more information can be found at www.durbandownwind.co.za


1.Hank McGregor 1:54.28
2.Matt Bouman 1:55.07
3.Wade Krieger 1:57.05
4.Steve Woods 1:59.18
5.Lee McGregor 1:59.51

1.Hayley Arthur 2:18.02

Junior Boys
1.Bailey de Fondaumiere 2:06.01

1.Luke Criticos/Thomas Lovemore (U18) 1:56.30
2.Bruce Wenke/Linton Hope 1:58.18
3.Bryce Hatton/Marc Stanton 1:58.45

Mixed Doubles
1.Ryan Atkins/Louisa van Staden 2:13.52
2.Anton Fouche/Thea van der Westhuizen 2:25.50

1.Jenna Ward/Kyeta Pruchase 2:01.13

1.Mweli Hlongwane 45.37
2.Gavin Botha 49.11
3.Taine Buys (U16) 51.29

Scottburgh kick starts all-new FNB Durban Downwind Surfski Series

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – Surfski paddlers the province over are excitedly readying themselves for this weekend’s Halfway Toyota Scottburgh Classic as the South Coast race signals the start of the newly launched five-race FNB Durban Downwind Surfski Series.


Renowned for its pristine winter ocean paddling conditions, KwaZulu-Natal is considered by many to be the surfski mecca of the world with the newly formed series set to further this reputation.

“2014 saw us launch the Durban Downwind as a standalone race that played host to last year’s memorable SA Surfski Championships,” explains series coordinator Barry Lewin.

“We are very excited by the expansion of the Durban Downwind into a five race series this year thanks to FNB’s increased support of the surfski community.”

The emergence of the Bay Union Surfski Series in 2013 saw five Durban beachfront-based events brought together under one umbrella and now this year’s launch of the FNB Durban Downwind Surfski Series signals the formalising of the remaining five races of KZN’s age-old winter events.

“We looked to pool events that were similar in format and venue into the Bay Union Surfski Series.

“The FNB Durban Downwind Surfski Series has now done a similar thing for KZN’s remaining five winter races that are also quite similar in that they are all more adventurous, downwind-suited races,” says Lewin.

Conditions permitting, races will be staged as downwind clashes that will see paddlers head from point to point with the wind at their backs and in order to offer paddlers the best possible conditions. Each event has a two day window period with the exact race day to be announced on the Thursday before.

This weekend’s Halfway Toyota Scottburgh Classic is the first of three South Coast based events – the other two being the Seebreeze Build it 5 Beaches on 20/21 June and the ET Security Winkle Challenge on 4/5 July – while Durban will play host to the Zurich Pirates Umhlanga Pirates on 27/28 June.

“This series is what I have been waiting for the entire year!” explains an enthusiastic Michelle Burn.

“There is a little bit of surf involved, some great runs – everything we actually paddle for.

“Being from Toti it is also great to be a part of races that take place down here!

“A few paddlers have a fear of the surf on the South Coast but often the surf is very, very manageable for intermediate paddlers so I really hope we do see a whole lot more people coming down to the series’ races, especially the South Coast ones” adds KZN’s women’s stand-out of the past half-decade.

The series’ feature race – the FNB Durban Downwind – then wraps things up on 11/12 July with the fifth and final clash also doubling as a priority race on the 2015 World Surfski Series which promises to serve as an added attraction for many of the country’s top competitors.

“It’s great to see Durban finally has a race on the World Surfski Series calendar,” says Fenn Kayaks’ Burn.

“Hopefully this will be another step in the process of Durban proving that it is a great location for and is more than capable of hosting the Surfski World Champs sometime in the near future!” she adds.

On the back of their fresh involvement in the summer’s Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series at the start of the year, banking giants First National Bank were excited by the opportunity to further their involvement in the sport through the Durban Downwind’s series expansion.

“FNB is delighted to be a sponsor of the Durban Downwind for the second year running and to be able to support its growth from a standalone event to a five race series,” says Preggie Pillay, FNB KZN Provincial Head.

“We are committed to promoting local and community events that focus on healthy lifestyles and family participation and the Durban Downwind Surfski Series is aligned to our belief that adventure is at the heart of innovation – one of many platforms on which we seek to make a lasting connection with our clients,” he adds.

The Halfway Toyota Scottburgh Classic, race one of the 2015 FNB Durban Downwind Surfski Series, takes place on either 13 or 14 June at Scottburgh Main Beach. More information can be found at www.durbandownwind.co.za