Following some devastating storms during the week, the Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back Surfski Series got underway in some tricky conditions on Friday that saw the experienced Michelle Burn and Andy Birkett taking home the race one spoils.
The end of winter is typically a quiet time for surfski paddlers but the likes of Fenn Kayaks’ Burn and Euro Steel’s Birkett have been focused mainly on flat-water marathon racing with the world championships last month in Pietermaritzburg.
The spring surfski season is the beginning of a long surfski period with many of the local stars working towards the Ocean Racing World Championships in Hong Kong in November.
Burn, who represented South Africa in the women’s K2 at the recent marathon world championships, was happy to be competing in her surfski again.
“I have had some time off after world champs with a bit of a sinus infection so to be back in my ski was really really cool,” Burn said.
“It was great to be competing again and I felt right back at home in my ski.”
Paddlers were introduced to the tough Pirates shore break and it made for some interesting racing throughout.
“The shore break was quite gnarly and luckily for me I wasn’t the only one that got smashed so I didn’t have any catching up to do when we got through the break.
“Myself and Nikki (Russell) had a good race after she caught me going towards the wall but on the way back we were neck-and-neck and we were coming in to the finish together.
“She unfortunately had a problem in the shore break which gave me the advantage and I got in first!” she added.
With the world surfski championships the final goal for Burn, she is looking to use the Wall and Back Series as an opportunity to hone her skills before she heads off to Hong Kong in the middle of November.
“I want to try and do as many races in the series as possible with world champs coming up next month.
“This series as well as Pete Marlin will give me a good opportunity to see how the other girls are going to Hong Kong.
“We have the Perth Doctor after the World Champs so I will miss those races in the series but I’ll try and paddle in as many races as I can,” she added.
The second race of the 2017 Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back Surfski Series takes place at 17h15 on Friday 20 October. More information can be found at www.wallandback.co.za.