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Scottburgh To Brighton 2016 – 3rd

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

The events that lead to the date change of the annual Scottburgh to Brighton Surfski race just show the true heart of our sport is on the right track. Through a local whattapp group, paddlers simply got talking and the power of the community started to rally together.


The sentiments were all the same, “our sport is about downwind paddling and we need to have the race in downwind conditions”.

Some calls and the race organizers (south coast lifesaving association) managed to get the permits to run on a public holiday Thursday. A untraditional move for a somewhat traditional race (second oldest race in the world).

No matter the results, surfski paddling and specifically, downwind surfski paddling was the winner. This was all due to the strong community around our sport and the great people I like to call my peers. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to all involved in retaining the true essence of why we paddle.

I wasn’t planning on doing the race. Its long, hard and not really my thing. The lure of downwind conditions was just too much and I did a last min team up with a good friend Lee Furby.

There were little nerves on the beach at the start, with more a vibe of joy, happy paddling about to do what they love. With not planning on doing the race my prep was less than ideal, I had done gym on Monday / Tuesday with my fiancé Carly and the body was stiff. It didn’t bother me with the excitement of what was to come.

We got away well through the surf, which can be very challenging at Scottburgh without any issues and set course for the halfway stop at Toti. Lee and I have paddled a lot together and found a nice rhythm quite quickly. I hurt in the first 10km with tight muscles but we were able to sit comfortably with the leaders Matthew Bouman and Wade Krieger for the first hour. The body loosened as the runs started to flow, the freedom of flying downwind warmed the heart.

I think my line was to shallow off the points with the top 2 boats getting away from us before Toti, unbeknown to us there was a titanic battle going on for line honors which came down to a sprint finish. The finish line officials couldn’t make out a winner and the race was called a tie. Matthew Bouman/Wade Krieger and Luke Nisbet/Gene Prato broke the old record for the race by 16 plus min in a new record time of 2h40.59. The old record had been set in 1998 so was about time we had conditions that the race deserves.


We had a solid paddle all round with no mistakes or issues. The feeling of pulling into some really great runs in the second half with a good mate hooting with joy behind you is something I will remember for a long time. Lee’s stoke for the sport only taking it up later in life is infectious, a bug I hope he passes on to many more. We gel really well in a boat together and came home in a very happy 3rd spot. The first 6 boats breaking the old record on the day.


I am looking forward to even more downwind paddling to come with the next event in Durban being the FNB Durban Downwind on the 25/26 of June. With the 2 day window for the event I hope we get similar conditions and can again share in what the sport is all about.


Illovo Pirates Umhlanga Pirates 2016 – 5th

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

Where did all start? In 1957 a group of Pirates SLC member put out a notice to the other clubs in Durban, a challenge was made and a tribe born. In those days the surfski’s never had rudders or pedals. I love the simplicity of that time, lets just paddle to the next town and back.


Some 59 years later a like-minded bunch of nutter surfski paddlers lines up at Pirates to follow in the footsteps of the sports pioneers.

The race course is 27km and this the light SW wind on the day the second half of the paddle was going to be very tough, paddling half the way into the wind. As a surfski paddler I avoid paddling into the wind at all cost and actually haven’t done this race in a couple years.

I didn’t have a great start after playing it safe in the wave zone going out, getting to the turn at backline in around 10th. I was passing a lot of boats in the first km and settles into a line I felt was straight to the turn point.


Looking at the GPS speeds it was obvious we were heading straight into a hectic head current, surfing down a run at 13km/h. I chose to head in a little to get out the current which worked in the first half but in the latter part of the outbound leg there just weren’t the bumps needed to keep the speeds consistent.

I got to the turn can in 4th feeling good that I had some left in the tank to get me home into the wind. By this stage Hank McGregor had forged a big lead on the field, with Matthew Bouman and Wade Krieger in 2nd and 3rd. I probably should have been with Matt and Wade after a downwind let and my shallow line cost me a little time.

The return leg would be a mental battle. I really don’t like the headwind and to keep concentration would be imperative. I hooked into a double and just focused on keeping the stroke rate even, holding my form well and not looking the back of the boat in front. After 20min another faster double caught us with Luke Nesbit in tow. The current helped a big in keeping speeds up and the bunch came home together. Luke and I had a nice race off near the end, we came down the same wave and he outran me up the beach leaving me in 5th.


The result may not be the best but I take a lot of positives away. I would normally not even do this event as it doesn’t suit me and finishing physically strong at the end of a head wind is a break through of sorts. Its part of eliminating my weaknesses and challenging myself to be a more all round paddler. It is often the paddler that can adapt the best, who does well. This is a good confidence boost, as I haven’t ever paddled that well into the wind and I hope to add this into the bank of skills for the future.

As much as I was not looking forward to this race (I really hate headwind), it turned out to be one awesome paddle. The overcast sky and sunrise peaking through the clouds on the early start, was pure magic. The morning light shimmering off the water and feeling of pulling into a run, flying down its face, having the salt water splash in your face, makes one realize that they are truly living, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Next stop is the 5 Beaches on the south coast this weekend, which I won in a tight race with Wade last year. It’s one of my favorites and look forward to some wild coastline and good hospitality.

Durban’s paddlers take on world’s oldest surfski race

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – Sunday saw a moderate field take on the world’s oldest surfski race, the Illovo Pirates Umhlanga Pirates Surfski Race, with paddlers encountering some tough conditions with South African surfski ace Hank McGregor claiming the overall win with Nicole Russell finishing as the first lady home.


The race, first raced in 1957, had both a long and short course as well as incorporating a number of long standing traditions which include an earlier 7am start as well as all paddlers receiving soup at the conclusion of the race. The older members of the Pirates Surf Lifesaving Club were present at Sunday’s shoot-out further entrenching the prestige of the 59 year old race.

“It was a good race today with a good following tail wind all the way to Umhlanga,” Euro Steel/Epic Kayak’s Hank McGregor said after his win. “The wind was against the current so you felt like you were going faster than you actually were and then on the return we were with the current but into the wind which made it a pretty tough day out.”

The race had the potential to be another humdinger between McGregor and fellow Durban ace and Epic Kayak’s Matt Bouman however the race went according to plan for McGregor who managed to get himself ahead early and boss the race until the finish line.

“I managed to get quite a big lead on Matt Bouman early and then I turned with the doubles so that gave me a good incentive into the final leg.

“Myself and the leading double just sat together until the finish.

“It was a really solid day for me and I am really happy to get another win here even though I am still battling with a bit of jet lag,” a satisfied McGregor added following his recent return from the Molokai in Hawaii.

McGregor’s focus now shifts to canoe marathon as he prepares for the South African Marathon Championships in Cape Town next weekend however his immediate calendar is still dominated by surfski races.

“We have the South African Marathon Champs which is also the national trial so I will hopefully be selected to go and defend my world marathon title.

“Despite this my calendar is chock-a-block with surfski races with the Scottburgh to Brighton the following week, then Durban Downwind and the I’m off to Mauritius so my schedule is really busy!” the star mentioned.

Bouman took the second placed position whilst Wade Krieger came home in third with the doubles race spoils going to Steve Woods and Bailey de Fondaumire with Shaun Dias and Matthew Elliot finishing second and Lee Furby and Quinton Rutherford finishing third.

The ladies race was won by Fenn Kayak’s Nicole Russell with the mixed doubles spoils going to Russell’s Fenn Kayak’s team mate Jenna Ward and Brett Hadiaris.

The Illovo Pirates Umhlanga Pirates fell the day after paddlers from around the world united to raise awareness of the environment and the plight of the world’s oceans for a relay event called Paddle for the Planet.
The 59th edition of the Illovo Pirates Umhlanga Pirates is the lead in race to the 2016 FNB Durban Downwind on 25-26 June 2016.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS – Illovo Pirates Umhlanga Pirates Surfski Race
1.Hank McGregor
2.Matt Bouman
3.Wade Krieger

1.Nicole Russell

1.Steve Woods/Bailey de Fondaumire
2.Shaun Dias/Matthew Elliot
3.Lee Furby/Quinton Rutherford

1.Jenna Ward/Brett Hadiaris
1.Brad Pearse

1.Mark Backman/Roger McGregor

Winkle Surfski Challenge – 3rd

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

A small but very elite field line up behind the surf for the Winkle race this year. Some of Durban’s best surfski paddlers drove south to support the south coast races, which are always a stand out of the season with raw ocean conditions and great hospitality.


Everyone got through the surf without any issues for the back line start. The pace was set by double, Bailey De Fondaumiere and Steve Woods. They were using the race as a practice run for the Scottburgh to Brighton in a couple weeks time. The towering Matthew Bouman showed great for to stay with the double for the first section of the race.

I knew that double pace was to hot to handle for myself so I dropped off to work with Wade Krieger as the second bunch. We were still holding nice speeds and was happy with the work rate. We were closed chased by the in form Luke Nesbit and south coast local Gene Prato showing the depth of the field.

Turning at chain rocks for the longest section of the race, each paddler opted for their own line. I could see Matthew attack the double to get a small lead but this was short lived with Bailey/Steve countered back to be the first boat in at the finish. Watch out for them at the S-B this year.

Matthew was in a class of his own in the singles finishing with a great lead. He is a great athlete to watch race as he gives his all and often has drool plaster down his face out of pure effort, you can just see he love the hurt box.


Wade got away from me through the middle section of the race with a great grind in the milky flat conditions. I managed to keep the gap to just 100m or so, which I was really stoked with, in the process holding of some chasers to claim 3rd single.

I have been in a double recently (as I don’t own a single) and it was great to be back in the action in such a class field. I love racing and this result just motivates me to put in more effort ahead of the FNB Durban Downwind as well as the Mauritius Ocean Classic at the end of June.

Thanks to Wade Krieger for the loan of the boat for the race and to Winkle SLC for putting on a great event. The heart and soul in these small clubs is amazing and will be back on the coast for their next race for sure.

This weekends Pirates Umhlanga Pirates has been moved to Sunday and looking forward to another tough outing.


Doubles dice concludes 2016 Bay Union Surfski Series

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in SurfSki Events

Durban – Hank McGregor and Lee Furby clinched the win at the Bay Union Doubles Race at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club on Sunday, bringing down the curtain on the 2016 Bay Union Surfski Series while Kyeta Purchase and Tamryn McKie as well as Jenna Ward and Luke Nisbet won the women’s and mixed race crowns.


After the series’ fourth leg was cancelled due to the torrential rains that ravaged much of KZN’s coastline last weekend, the race – previously planned to be a Team Challenge – was changed to race four’s original doubles format.

McGregor (Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks), along with much of the region’s surfski community, relished the rare S2-orientated opportunity and jumped at the chance to tackle the clash with his buddy and fellow Salt Rock resident, Furby before the pair jet off to Hawaii for the upcoming Maui Kim Molokai Challenge.

“Both Lee and I leave for Molokai on Tuesday,” said McGregor. “This is only a fifteen kilometer race and we’ve got to race 52km over in Hawaii but its nice to leave SA with a win and to have enjoyed a solid race with a great friend like Lee was awesome!”

McGregor and Furby were pushed all the way by Epic Kayaks’ Matthew Bouman and sprint star Louis Hattingh with just the final surge for the line the difference between the pairs in the end.

“There were two boats for the last ten kilometres before we managed to get the upper hand for the last kilometer and a half.

“I thought Matthew, with South African sprinter Louis Hattingh in the back, might have had the gas to come past us.

“They tried to do so for the last kilometer or so but we managed to hold them off and so it came down to a wave at the end.

“We had the lead pulling into it and so we hooked the wave while they came off second best,” said McGregor.

Under-23 paddler Gene Prato and Carbonology Sport junior Bailey de Fondaumiere combined well to clinch third while the first mixed pair – Ward and Nisbet – finished fourth.

Purchase and McKie were unrivalled in the women’s race with the star youngster enjoying the chance to expose the latter to the sharp end of the field for the first time.

“The surf was beautiful, the whole day was beautiful, and it was just great to paddle with Tammy (McKie)!” said Purchase.

“This is the longest distance Tammy has ever raced, so it was great to put her in the back of the double and show her what it is all about.”


Brett Evans and Jarryd Gibson were the first junior crew to complete the 15km long course event while the short course doubles spoils went to Timothy Bouch and AC Lawson with Keaton Riddle again claiming the 7km singles win.

The race’s action concludes the five-leg Autumn series backed by Bay Union Financial Series with the next major event on the KZN surfski calendar being the FNB Durban Downwind – a World Surfski Series title event – which takes place on Saturday, 25 and Sunday, 26 June 2016.

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


1.Hank McGregor/Lee Furby 1:02.05
2.Matthew Bouman/Louis Hattingh 1:02.15
3.Gene Prato/Bailey de Fondaumiere 1:04.15
4.Jenna Ward/Luke Nisbet (Mixed) 1:06.35
5.Jason Ekstrand/Richard Lowe 1:06.45

1.Jenna Ward/Luke Nisbet 1:06.35
2.Zoog Haynes/Christie MacKenzie 1:13.04
3.Jody Taylor/Kerry Segal

1.Kyeta Purchase/Tamryn McKie

Juniors Boys
1.Brett Evans/Jarryd Gibson 1:09.56
2.Hamish MacKenzie/Kelly Tarr (U16) 1:16.20

1.Irvin Dixon 1:13.58
2.Neil Evans 1:16.44
3.Michel de Rauville 1:17.03

1.Timothy Bouch/AC Lawson 51.08
2.Hamish Lovemore/Charlotte Lovemore 52.56
3.Neil Greig/Gavin Botha 53.15

1.Keaton Riddle 52.47
2.Chris Walthew 56.25
3.Justin Lucken 56.55

Varsity College SportLife Practice Video

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Coaching

Durban has a very strong water sports culture and it is no wonder that the paddling clubs on the Varsity College Campuses are really taking off. I have taken a number of sessions getting the surfski club going and it is awesome to see the current SportsLife captains continuing the fun of being active on their campuses today.

One of the Durban North Students Tom Lovemore put this video together of their surfski practice last week and it just inspires me to go paddling. Nice work Tom!

If you would like to get involved in the surfski club on a Varsity College Campus get hold of me on barry@barrylewin.co.za and I can point you in the right direction or check out www.varsitycollege.co.za