Hank McGregor signalled his return to the top of the South African Surfski Championship pecking order with victory in both the singles and doubles clash at the Pete Marlin Surfski Race in the Eastern Cape on the weekend while Nikki Russell followed suit in the women’s tussles.
McGregor went into the clash having been conspicuously absent from the top step of the S1 podium at the national ocean racing spectacle for the past two years however the Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks athlete came into the weekend’s showdown full of confidence after a near perfect year’s racing.
Having been unstoppable on flat water, rivers and the ocean alike throughout 2016, the eight time ICF Canoe Marathon World Champion – who was recently announced alongside Wayde van Niekerk and Chad le Clos as a South Africa Sports Awards’ Sportsman of the Year nominee – put in another strong performance to race to victory.
“I’m very stoked to have won the SA Surfski Championships at the Pete Marlin Surfski Race,” McGregor posted on Facebook shortly after his singles victory.
“The standard of paddling in South Africa is at an all-time high at the moment, which makes racing on local waters as tough as ever,” he added.
McGregor narrowly edged out 2015 national champ, Mocké Paddling/Fenn Kayaks’ Dawid Mocké while Epic Kayaks’ Matt Bouman, Think Kayaks/Varsity College’s Kenny Rice and Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks’ Jasper Mocké finished third, fourth and fifth respectively.
“I had to relinquish my SA title today, but not without a fight,” posted a content Dawid Mocké.
McGregor and younger Mocké brother Jasper then successfully combined in Sunday’s doubles clash to claim the S2 title, finishing ahead of Durban surf lifesaving stars Bouman and Wade Krieger (Gravity Sports/Epic Kayaks) while Dawid Mocké and Kyle Friedenstein (Fenn Kayaks/Mocké Paddling) finished third.
In the women’s singles race, Fenn Kayaks/Mocké Paddling’s Russell pipped Euro Steel/Carbonology Sport’s Hayley Nixon in a ding-dong battle up front, handing her a second while Euro Steel/Fenn Kayaks’ Jenna Ward, Euro Steel/Mocké Paddling’s Kyeta Purchase and Chloë Bunnett rounded out the top five.
“This was the most amazing weekend in East London for the Pete Marlin Surfski Race and SA Surfski Champs,” said women’s runner-up, Nixon.
“Nikki (Russell) and I had the most insane neck and neck race for the S1 title – 23kms of fighting it out, right down to backline, but Nikki outclassed me in the surf and took the win.
“I am extremely happy to come away with second place in the best race I’ve ever had!” she added.
Russell and Ward then paired up to clinch the women’s doubles crown on Sunday, outclassing Nixon and Donna Tutton while Purchase and Kerry Segal finished third.
The Pete Marlin Surfski Race also served as the third of five Title events of the 2016 World Surfski Series with a large South African contingent now heading to Hong Kong for this weekend’s Dragon Run, the Series’ fourth Title clash.
1.Hank McGregor 1:20.52
2.Dawid Mocké 1:21.38
3.Matt Bouman 1:22.10
1.Nikki Russell 1:37.20
2.Hayley Nixon 1:38.49
3.Jenna Ward 1:42.30
1.Hank McGregor/Jasper Mocké 1:02.50
2.Matt Bouman/Wade Krieger 1:04.27
3.Dawid Mocké/Kyle Friendenstein 1:05.12
1.Nikki Russell/Jenna Ward 1:14.21
2.Hayley Nixon/Donna Tutton 1:16.59
3.Kyeta Purchase/Kerry Segal 1:20.34
Photos: John Hishin/Gameplan Media