While there were roses handed out to all the mothers before the start, there was no love lost on the water at the Bay Union Dairy Challenge on Sunday as lifesaving Iron Man Wade Krieger showed that he is hitting top form my winning his first title in the popular Bay Union Surfski Series.
While series leader Hank McGregor was away in Germany to receive his World Paddle Award for the Sportsman of the Year, Krieger was eager to take full advantage of the opportunities, and was quickly drawn into a ferocious tussle with Steve Woods and Barry Lewin.
Lewin was quickest out of the blocks, racing away in small surf from Dairy beach and in mild ocean conditions flattened out by the overnight Westerly winds that passed through Durban.
However Krieger soon took charge, energised by rest after the SA Lifesaving Championships and being able to tailor his training more towards his paddling.
“Since lifesaving champs I have been able to back off on my swimming and as a result I feel a lot stronger,” said Krieger. “I have had time to do more gym and the whole way during the race I felt like I was connecting right.
“For the first time in about a year I can say that things are definitely coming together,” he added.
“Today I just focussed on myself. I felt that there was no point in getting distracted by the other athletes. It is important to have a mentality to go out there and win, and even if you are winning, to try and win by further.”
He coasted through the small surf to claim the title by thirty seconds from Woods, with Lewin (Team Jeep) taking the last spot on the podium.
Meanwhile the women’s race produced the closest finish of the series to date, with four Team Fenn Kayaks paddlers racing on the same wave into the finish together.
Michelle Burn broadsided in the shorebreak, upending Nikki Russell, and Jenna Ward was the quickest upon the short stretch of beach to take the title by the slimmest of margins from Hayley Arthur.
“Everyone was pulling, trying to get away, and the speed was up the whole time,” said a visibly elated Ward, who is part of the province’s Elite Athlete Development Programme training at Prime HPI.
“It is so exciting that the girl’s racing is this close. It shows that our training is paying off and we are right up there with the guys,” she added.
“The class that we are racing against in these races is just incredible. It’s like having a world champs every weekend here in Durban.”
Richard Lowe and Shaun Burgin took the double ski title with a solid third place overall, thirty seconds clear of Dewalt Hattingh and Irvin Dixon.
The double ski field included former Dusi winner Thulani Mbanjwa, who made a rare appearance at a surfski race, paddling with Ian Marais.
The fifth and final race of the Bay Union Surfski Series, the Lion Of Africa Reef Challenge and
Bay Union Graded Shootout takes places at Durban Underwater Club on Sunday 17 May.
More information can be found at www.pitchandpaddle.co.za
BAY UNION GRADING RACE
1 Wade Krieger 1:00:02.63
2 Steve Woods 1:00:35.86
3 Barry Lewin 1:01:41.37
4 Wayne Wilson 1:02:07.35
5 Clinton Cook 1:02:12.87
1 Richard Lowe/Shaun Burgin 1:01:18.98
2 Dewald Hattingh/Irvine Dixon 1:01:45.07
3 Luke Criticos/Thomas Lovemore 1:01:46.56
4 Bryce Hatton/Marc Stanton 1:02:14.42
5 Gustav Kriese/Neil Evans 1:02:21.23
1 Jenna Ward 1:08:36.75
2 Hayley Arthur 1:08:37.50
3 Michelle Burn 1:08:38.51
4 Nikki Russell 1:08:45.73
5 Kyeta Purchase 1:10:56.26
1 Donald Brierley 42:09.66
2 Mthembeni Mkhize 44:13.02
3 Keaton Riddle/William Dowsett 44:15.48
4 Bruce Pender-0Smith/Matthew Pender-Smith 44:47.37
5 Paul Nixon 45:13.68
1 Teegan Hardwick/Caroline Dosett 47:35.85
2 Vanessa Mayhew 49:11.89
18 Lynne Hauptfleisch 57:31.91
Images: Kevin Sawyer