Durban’s paddlers take on rough sea at Marine Series
Durban – With some tough conditions being the order of the day on Friday evening paddlers had to be keep their wits about them as they took on some rough seas but it was the calm heads of Hank McGregor and the impressive Michelle Burn who manage the sea the best to record wins and with that Burns first win of the series at the Hansa Surfski Challenge.
It was a welcome return to winning way for seven-time series winner Michelle Burn who has been moving up the results sheet over the past few weeks and the surfski star felt that the conditions on Friday were great for her and she exploited them well.
“Coming in and going out was always going to be quite hectic that is why I was quite glad we had a backline start,” Burn said. “With that said when we got out there the wind died down a bit and the conditions were really good with some massive runs coming back!
“The conditions suited me better I think, I enjoy the rougher conditions out there and I think I managed them pretty well,” she added.
Having been on the wrong end of the top two last week Burn was able to turn the tide on her closest rival Jenna Ward on Friday and the race was a reciprocal of the previous Friday as Burn was able to get in front of her young counterpart and stay in front.
“I managed to get ahead of Jen after the first half a lap and then it was a case of keeping myself in front of her and I managed to do that and I knew that I needed to be careful coming in and keep it stable which I did and I’m really happy with my paddle,” a satisfied Burn mentioned.
With a number of Marine Series titles under her belt Burn came into the 2015 series with very little expectation and has not been putting any pressure on herself to get into the contention but after a number of solid performances and a win she might be entertaining the idea of another series win.
“I’ve been trying to take the series one race at a time and every week as it comes because we have been served up with some interesting conditions throughout the series!
“A series win would be great but I am not really looking that far ahead although I do realise that I am in contention to win the overall title. I’m just enjoying my paddling and trying to do the best I can week in and week out.
“With my record and being the defending champion keeping the title would be great but let’s just see how the next couple of races go,” a wary Burn added.
The men’s race was won by Hank McGregor who was pushed hard by Wade Krieger as he claimed the win by only a couple of seconds but with that win the Epic Kayak/Jeep Team star takes the lead in the series log over Matt Bouman who was not at the race on Friday.
With the surf being tricky McGregor knew that the playing field was going to be level with the backline start and it was a ding dong battle for the current marathon world champion against Krieger as he battled with a couple of issues.
“I managed to get away quite early but I got caught up on the shark nets which meant I had to get off my ski and untangle myself and in that time I saw Wade go past me so I had to work to get back to him.
“I got back ahead of Wade but got caught by a wave about 800 metres out that knocked me off my ski and as I was scrambling to get back on Wade went passed me again so it was again a case of working to get ahead!
“After that I managed to regain my thoughts and get back in front where I just maintained and had a solid second lap so I kept ahead of Wade all the way home,” a relieved McGregor mentioned.
With the tough conditions McGregor was questioning his luck but he knew that it was going to be a difficult outing and was able to show his skills in those sorts of conditions.
“I am stoked that I got the win after the race that I had and the sea was in quite an angry mood and it tested us, it really tested all of our skills,” he added.
The top three in the men’s race was rounded out by event organiser Barry Lewin as the Jeep Team/Varsity College athlete just pipped youngster gene Prato to the line on Friday evening.
The Lettie Paddle Surfski Challenge, race seven of the 2015 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Tuesday, 17 February at Addington Beach. More information can be found at www.marineseries.co.za
All images Anthony Grote
RACE SIX OF THE 2015 VARSITY COLLEGE FNB MARINE SURFSKI SERIES
1. Hank McGregor 34.16
2. Wade Krieger 34.44
3. Barry Lewin 35.42
1. Michelle Burn 40.18
2. Jenna Ward 42.32
3. Lauren Coleby 50.14
1. Tristan Wilson 41.15
2. Brett Evans 41.57
1. Wayne Wilson/Charles Heinse 35.19
2. Jason Ekstrand/Richard Lowe 35.42
3. Jasper Mocké/Grant Walker 37.08
1. Gareth Hazell 22.08
2. Thoman Lovemore 22.41
3. Kevin Oliver 32.48
1. Jody Taylor/Matthew Elliot 20.27
2. Wise Mvubu/Nhlanhla Ncayiya 21.20
3. Keaton Riddle/William William Dowsett 28.57