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Mouth 2 Mouth and 50km Challenge 2016

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

The last two and a half weeks have been, as usual, really busy. With the final tying up of loose ends leading up to the start of the surfski calendar for 2017, life becomes a bit of a whirlwind. And, as always trying to balance work and training is a challenge, and I’m sure, a daily struggle encountered by us all.

It is with great excitement to announce our title sponsors for the 2017 Marine Surfski series! If you haven’t heard by now, we are very pleased to have FNB as the sole title sponsors of the Marine Series for next year. We love what FNB has done for the sport of paddling and look forward to another successful series with FNB. The Marine Surfski series would not be the same without the FNB banners decorating our much-loved Durban beachfront.

Mouth 2 Mouth – Richards Bay

On the odd occasion we need an excuse to drag ourselves away from the crowded coast of Durban and head up the road to the untamed coastline of Richards Bay. Mouth 2 Mouth is another of my favorite surfski events. With too much traveling and not enough training I was sure that this event would be a good opportunity to clock some miles in anticipation of the Pete Marlin (SA Champs) and the Hong Kong Dragon Run later in the year.

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There were a lot of happy paddlers on the start line with the wind blowing 25knots. White caps from the wind covered the water as far as the eye could see across the harbour, signs normally indicating an awesome downwind.

The wind uncharacteristically swung from NE to a more Northerly direction, making the conditions very challenging. The side on chop made catching the swell going down the coast extremely taxing on the body. Every run required massive amounts of concentration and physical power.

My race turned out to be all that I had expected, a test to see if I still knew how to paddle and an opportunity to log some time in the seat. I was happy with my fourth place behind that of Gene Prato in third place, Luke Nesbit in second and Matt Bouman in first.

50km Challenge

With another week of training in the system, my confidence in my fitness was starting to strengthen. I had done a few longer paddles during my training sessions and the body was handling well. In a moment of boldness I decided, very uncharacteristically, to take part in the longest race on the KZN calendar. I would usually avoid these longer events, especially an event that hits the 50km mark. I have not really regarded myself as a long-distance paddler but with the training going well I was excited to have the opportunity to test my endurance levels, which seem to be improving, perhaps with age.

We had favorable wind predictions, which would aid our paddle from Pirates to Tinley. KZN’s hard-core and highly skilled surfski paddlers took to the beach that day to take on the grueling distance.

I got off to a conservative start picking my way through the surf without getting into trouble. The first few kilometers into the race seemed rather slow with not that many runs out of the Durban bay. With the passing of every kilometer however the conditions and swell began to build. By the time we hit La Lucia I was truly surfing.

The leading field, consisting of Luke Nesbit, Gene Prato and Wade Krieger, had attacked the race right at the outset. They had gone out hard. Far harder than I was willing to go in the first 10km of the race. My goal for the day was to ensure I would return to attempt another of these long distances races, I would have to exercise consistency in my pacing. The leaders of the field were all within sight. As the runs built I started to make good ground, picking up Gene about 40 minutes into the race and then, catching up with Wade a further 10 minutes later. I felt good the whole way, and led the bunch for a brief period from around the 20km mark.

I chose to follow my own line, which proved to not be the wisest of choices. Luke went out much wider, which aided him in finding cleaner runs off the Ballito point. My inside line was not so forgiving and I battled with some very bad refraction being too close to the coastline.

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Luke claimed a well-earned win, with Wade in second place and myself in third. To have found myself in the mix in a race of this distance, so soon after my break, was awesome.

The next two weeks are going to be used to sharpen up on some of my week points and I am looking forward to some good racing in November.

Well done to all the paddlers who took part and a huge-thank you to the super-seconds for making sure we all get to do what we love!

Mouth 2 Mouth 2015 – 1st Double – New Course Record – 2h16min22

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

I go up the north coast every year to do the Mouth 2 Mouth for many reasons. It has one of the most untouched coastlines we get to paddle, the people are salt of the earth and my favorite, when the North East blows, it can be one of the funnest downwinds you can find anywhere on the planet.

The race is always well organized by a crew of people from both towns of Richards Bay and Zini, who changed things up a little this year and made it a doubles race, with the plan to alternate with the calendar in KZN.

I love doubles racing as it gives a team vibe to a normally very individual endeavor. The distance of the race suites doubles as well and I was not the only one was excited for the challenge this year.

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I was lucky enough to jump into a boat with Ausi import Brendan Rice, who is out in SA to do the Fish and stayed on for a holiday. We had a warm up Friday evening in the Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back. The boat felt really good as we came back from getting stuck on the shark nets to take the doubles win. More importantly we got comfy in the boat together.

The weather forecast for the weekend was awesome with 2 days of NE. The race decided to hold for the Sunday and we set off out the Richards Bay harbour with a nice 15knot wind at our backs.

Brendan and I had a steady start and worked though the bunch to lead at the harbour wall with a big batch some 50m back lead by the danger crew in the field, good mates Hank McGregor and Lee Furby. We settled into a nice rhythm straight away milking one run to the next across the bay towards new mouth (the first real marker on the course at 8km). This first section is challenging as the runs tempt paddler to head into the bay. I was glad to stick to a straight line aiming for the first point, where the runs would straighten.

The middle section we really went well. It’s hard to see any other boats while going downwind so we just stuck to the game plan of a shallow line all the way down the course. With good conditions I always new there was a chance we could break the race record. I currently own the singles record at around 2h23min and thought we could go 5 min faster in a double at least. We watched the speeds stay high the whole way even though we were into a slight head current.

Near the finish I think my mind wandered as I made two mistakes in the surf coming in that cost us two swims. These things happen but not two in the space of 50m. It cost us some time as well as my pride. We eventually beached with Hank and Lee just behind us, a little too close for comfort after working really hard the whole day to get a lead.

The finish time, even with the swims was enough to get the race record and it’s quite lekker to now own both the singles and doubles times. A big thanks to Brendan for the power in the back of the boat which made my life driving the double downwind so easy. Pity Brendan is going back to Ausi, I could use him in the some of the doubles races here in SA.

A well done to the Zululand crew on another awesome race. Great value for the entry fee, awesome hospitality and of course, some nice wind.

Mouth 2 Mouth Record Under Threat

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

I love the Richards Bay to Zini run in a NE, the coast line angle is just so straight and a lot of fun. Over the last 4 years of doing the race I have got 3 seconds and 1 win along with the course record which still stands. I think with the field on their way to the Mouth 2 Mouth this year that record is definably under threat.

The race has always attracted a very strong field but with the added names from CT and the USA their are some serious bragging rights up for grabs. Dawid and Nikki Mocke from Fish Hoek (Cape Town) have entered and are rearing to go for race. They dont need any introduction with a rap sheet longer than I can remember. Dawid goes out really hard and will push the pace in the first 10km of the 39km race. This will put the field in a good position as a record attempt in the later stages.

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The wild card is Austin Keiffer from the USA. This dude works so hard, I had the privilege of sharing a house with him in December last year in Cape Town and the dude is strong. Austin is out on a 3 month stay in the Cape and decided to come up to Zululand for the weekend as well. With a 5th at the USA champs in a stacked line up I am sure he will be right up there.

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The local boys from Kzn are on fire, Hank McGregor is on a roll with a Double World Marathon Champs Golds followed by his first K1 Fish win. He will be hard to beat and is back in his ski the next couple weeks in Prep for tours to France and Hong Kong. Lining up in Kzn is hectic with so many great paddlers who can all go well in various conditions. Just look at the previous winners list from the last couple years Herman Chalupsky (2010), Barry Lewin (2011, record), Matthew Bouman (2012), Daryl Bartho (2013), all of which will be on the start line.

The young guns who have something to prove, can’t count out ambitions and youth as a deadly combo. Grant Van Der Walt (can I call him a young gun? he has been around so long maybe not but he is young so 50/50) and Kyle Friedenstein (seen him going really well of late) will also be in the mix.

 

The year I won and set the record is 2011 was not the deepest field and I paddled home unchallenged with no one to race me the whole day. I have always said the record could be broken with a couple of the top guys pushing each other and this year I think we have the field to do it.

Mouth 2 Mouth was originally scheduled for 18th October but due to big sea’s the race has been pushed out to the 1 November. I look forward to being in the mixing it up to keep my record in tact. With a really amazing Fenn under me I hope to be in the hunt.

Will the record go down? Will conditions play their roll on the day? Who will arrive with their A game? Only time will tell.

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