Canoe Marathon World Champion Hank McGregor and South African women’s surfski standout Michelle Burn’s dominance of the 2014 Varsity College Marine Surfski Series continued in Friday’s Bay Union Surfski Challenge, race five of the ten-leg series, as they stormed to their fourth victories of competition.
With the rapid growth of women’s surfski paddling in the region, competition amongst KZN’s female stars has also enjoyed a sharp rise in recent years. This increased level of competition amongst the ladies, coupled with a poor start, did however see Burn having to dig far deeper than she had hoped.
“It was nice to get my fourth win of the series but that was much harder than necessary!” chuckled Burn (Fenn/Team Jeep) afterwards.
“I had the worst start ever! I was the last person off the beach because I just wasn’t ready and so, by the time we got out to the first buoy, the other girls already had about 50 meters on me!
“It was great to see so many girls back on the water again but that also meant I really had to work hard to get back up to them!”
“I’d taken a bit of time off at the start of the year but the other girls have been getting just a little too close recently so I started training again this week. Hopefully that will help in a couple of weeks’ time but I really had to work hard this week,” she added light-heartedly.
A North Easterly wind in the hours leading up to the event meant paddlers had to deal with tricky yet enjoyable conditions however the early exertion meant it wasn’t until the second half of the race that Burn was able to take advantage of the open ocean runs and stamp her authority on the encounter.
“Once I finally managed to catch Nikki (Russell) I decided to just sit on her wave for a while to try and recover and only then did I manage to get ahead a little later in the race,” said Burn.
“The North Easter meant conditions were really fun. It was quite tricky going into the wind but I really enjoyed the stretch back from North Beach to Marine,” she added.
Having led the women’s clash initially, Russell crossed the line to claim second place with Danica Bartho (Fenn/Bartho Fish Co.) finishing third.
Like Burn, McGregor (Fenn/Team Jeep) claimed his fourth victory of the series after he cruised home ahead of Matt Bouman (Epic Kayaks) and Grant van der Walt (Varsity College/Epic Kayaks) and now requires just two more positive results from the remaining five races in order to win yet another series title.
Wayne Wilson and Shaun Dias regained the top step of the podium in the doubles category after they edged out Dusi Canoe Marathon combo Adam Nisbet and Len Jenkins while Ryan Atkins and Julie Cornelius stormed to yet another mixed doubles race win.
With the widely anticipated Dusi Canoe Marathon set to take place from Thursday 13 to Saturday 15 February, race six of the series – the Lettie Paddle Surfski Challenge – will instead take place on Tuesday 11 February at 17h30 at Addington Beach.
The series’ affiliation with Lettie Paddle, an initiative started by Danica Bartho in support of her good friend and fellow paddler Nikki Heynes currently fighting against cancer, is the first charitable cause the series has enjoyed and one series organiser Barry Lewin is extremely excited by.
“The Lettie Paddle initiative is one very close to the hearts of many of our paddlers in KZN and we are really looking forward to welcoming the campaign to the series for the first time on Tuesday,” said Lewin.
“Tuesday is all about paddlers showing their support of others they know who are currently fighting the fight against cancer as well as raising awareness about the deadly disease.
“Paddlers are encouraged to really go to town on Tuesday and dress up in pink paddling gear. Pink Funky Pants paddling shorts can also be purchased ahead of the race which, together with wigs, accessories and anything else pink, will really be great to see out on the water!” he added.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – BAY UNION SURFSKI CHALLENGE
RACE FIVE OF THE VARSITY COLLEGE MARINE SURFSKI SERIES
1.Hank McGregor 33.23
2.Matt Bouman 33.41
3.Grant van der Walt 35.00
4.Barry Lewin 36.17
5.Herman Chalupsky 36.35
1.Michelle Burn 40.21
2.Nicole Russell 41.20
3.Danica Bartho 42.20
1.Jordan Clauson 39.03
2.Keagan Kok 43.06
3.Joshua Evered-Hall 43.59
1.Wayne Wilson/Shaun Dias 34.01
2.Adam Nisbet/Len Jenkins 34.09
3.Brett Bartho/Wayne Thompson 34.11
1.Ryan Atkins/Julie Cornelius 38.47
2.Paul Scruby/Angela Scruby 40.52
3.Bruce Jackson/Lindy Bradshaw 45.04
1.Sipho Luthuli 23.53
2.Mitchel Tees 26.31
3.Christopher Walthew 26.40
1.Craig Stuart/Jon Wiseman 22.20
2.Savannah van Rooyen/Luke 22.56
3.Thando Thusi/Lauren Coleby 24.32
All images Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media