Aussie Rice and Russell strike first blood at Wall and Back

Run Ride Dive News

Durban – With interesting conditions to deal with at the opening leg of the Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back Surfski Series it was visiting Australian Brendan Rice and now Durban local Nicole Russell who dealt with the conditions the best as they powered to wins in the first race of the series on Friday evening.

There was quite a chop as the paddlers headed out and along with this there were a number of boats who spent a bit of time getting behind the backline but it was the general feeling that once you got out past the backline the conditions were good and race winner Brenda Rice echoed that sentiment.

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With some tricky surf to deal with going out and coming in it tested even the most seasoned of surfski professionals but Barry Lewin (pictured) enjoyed the bumpy conditions for Race One of the 2014 Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back Surfski Series on Friday.

“There was a bit of a bump coming in and going out,” the Australian said. “It was a little bit dicey getting out there but that is what makes racing so interesting and once you got out it was pretty flat.”

Having come out to paddle in the Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon the Perth local decided to stay on for a bit longer and take in the surf that the East Coast has to offer and he explained that he enjoyed his race on Friday.

“We don’t get much swell in Perth but we get some good downwind conditions but I really had a good time out there! It was quite tricky but it was a lot of fun and I am chuffed that I was able to come here and win against the local guys,” Rice added.

The ladies race was going to be an interesting affair with Nicole Russell and Jenna Ward both on the start line but it was the former who started well and was able to claim the victory ahead of Ward in what was a good race.

Russell started the series with a win like she started the 2013 series and the race went according to plan despite the tricky conditions.

“It is just really great to get a win in the first race of the season,” the Varsity College/Fenn paddler said. “There was a pretty big break but once you got beyond that it was really flat but getting out there was the fun part!”

Russell had to use all of her experience getting beyond the break and following a disappointing Wall and Back series in 2013 she was just happy that she could get the win and get off the mark early in the series.

“You had to be really good tactically in the beginning with the break but that was really fun because it was testing us which is what you want in a race like this. We have had Lee McGregor coaching us so we are learning a lot more about paddling and following last year when I was sick I am just really glad that I was able to get the win tonight,” a delighted Russell mentioned.

The race for second in the men’s event was interesting with Kyle Friedenstein pipping stalwart Barry Lewin for the runner-up spot and Lewin was quick to appreciate the effort from Friedenstein.

“Kyle definitely produced the race of the day!” Lewin said at the end. “He came from nowhere to finish second; it was a really impressive paddle from him. The surf took its toll on a lot of paddlers but it was a lot of fun and a great way to start the series.”

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Durban resident and Varsity College/Fenn star Nicole Russell started the Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back Surfski Series on Friday. like she did the 2013 edition with a win in tricky surf conditions on Friday evening.


1. Brandon Rice (Aus) 36.06
2. Kyle Friedenstein 36.36
3. Barry Lewin 37.09
1. Nicole Russell 39.54
2. Jenna Ward 41.53
3. Lauren Felgate 53.39

1. Jordan Clausen 39.44
2. Brett Wilkin 42.01

1. Wayne Ashford/Bryan Taylor 38.37
2. Greg Worthington/Malcom Pit 38.51
3. Trevor Wernes/Mark Xanthos 42.00

Mixed Double
1. Ryan Aiken/Julia Cornilius 39.05

Race two of the 2014 Illovo Suncoast Wall and Back Surfski Series takes place on Friday 31 October at 15h15 from Suncoast Pirates SLC, Battery Beach in Durban.

Images: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media


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