Durban – The race for the men’s 2014 Varsity College Marine Surfski Series title has come alive once more after Umhlanga dynamo Matt Bouman clinched his third successive race victory and fourth of the series at Friday evening’s IT-Works Surfski Challenge, while the in-form Nikki Russell claimed her first race win of the series in the women’s category.
With a playful two foot surf and a light North Easterly wind blowing, paddlers were always going to be in for a paddling treat. Not many would quite have expected to have had as much fun as they did though as they were greeted by near perfect conditions.
“When you paddle in Durban you’re paddling against some of the world’s best paddlers so its always tough,” explained Bouman. “Barry (Lewin) changed this up with the course so that was something a little different, there was a good turn out and it was just another fun evening on the water.”
Bouman, having gone head to head with regular rival Hank McGregor of Team Jeep for the past few years, clinched his first race victory of the 2014 series as far back as race two before a charge by McGregor saw the scoreboard shift well in the triple Canoe Marathon World Champ’s favour.
The Epic Kayak’s star however capitalized perfectly on McGregor’s absence from the previous two races and, with McGregor again absent from the start line due to his and Sbonelo Zondi’s victorious efforts in the 2014 Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon earlier in the day, made it three wins in a row and sent the score to four race wins apiece for himself and McGregor.
With paddlers’ six best results of the ten-leg series counting towards the final series standings, there is plenty to play for in the final two standoffs with neither able to afford another ‘no-show’ nor a poor performance over the next two weeks.
History will also undoubtedly provide an extra motivating factor for McGregor as he seeks to claim his fifth consecutive series title, something he has done with a perfect score – six first place finishes – for the past four years.
“It’s always nice to get a couple of wins under the belt,” said Bouman. “Hank has obviously been away for the past few weeks so it would be nice to get these sort of results when he is here and he has won all four races that he’s taken part in.
“I guess you’ve got to be in with a shout if you want to win the series though and these couple of wins at least give me a small chance.
“The ocean is the ocean and lots can happen out there so there’s plenty still to race for in the final two races,” he added.
Grant van der Walt of Varsity College/Team Jeep took another step towards finding his full form again as he claimed another second place while series coordinator and Varsity College/Team Jeep athlete Barry Lewin narrowly edged out wade Krieger for third.
With Fenn/Team Jeep’s Michelle Burn opting to take part in race eight with her husband Oliver in the mixed doubles category after wrapping up the women’s series title last week already, the women’s clash was a tightly fought affair as Varsity College Sport Life programme’s Russell was pushed for much of the clash by rising young star Jenna Ward with Sharon Armstrong claiming the bottom step of the podium.
The doubles battle was another fascinating tussle as a returning Luke Nisbet and his younger brother Adam narrowly edged out the flying mixed doubles crews of the Burns as well as Wayne Wilson and young female talent Kerry Segal.
The junior boys clash again saw Jordan Clauson reign supreme with Keagan Kok and under-16 competitor Brett Wilken following in second and third place respectively.
While filled with newcomers to the sport, a tribute to series’ notable impact of the growth and development of the sport of surfski in the region, the short course’s field also enjoyed the presence of some top athletes.
Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, the host of the popular series, continued its dominance of the shorter race option with their talented development stars surging to the front of the field once more.
Trent Baird and Sandile Shange were the first double across the line while Thando Thusi and Mhlengi Gwala went one, two in the singles division. South African national hockey player and 2012 Olympian Tim Drummond finished third.
The HiQ Surfski Challenge, race nine of the 2014 Varsity College Marine Surfski Series, takes place on Friday 7 March at 17h30 at Marine SLC at Addington Beach. More info can be found atwww.marineseries.co.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – IT-WORKS SURFSKI CHALLENGE
RACE EIGHT OF THE 2014 VARSITY COLLEGE MARINE SURFSKI SERIES
1.Matt Bouman 35.04
2.Grant van der Walt 36.36
3.Barry Lewin 36.53
4.Wade Krieger 37.05
5.Lee McGregor 37.42
1.Nicole Russell 29.10
2.Jenna Ward 31.15
3.Sharon Armstrong 35.20
1.Luke Nisbet/Adam Nisbet 35.42
2.Oliver Burn/Michelle Burn (Mixed) 36.11
3.Wayne Wilson/Kerry Segal (Mixed) 36.40
1.Oliver Burn/Michelle Burn 36.11
2.Wayne Wilson/Kerry Segal 36.40
3.Paul Scruby/Angela Scruby 41.09
1.Jordan Clauson 39.23
2.Keagan Kok 42.26
3.Brett Wilken (U16) 43.31
1.Thando Thusi 23.49
2.Mhlengi Gwala 24.07
3.Tim Drummond 24.18
1.Trent Baird/Sandile Shange 22.33
2.Warrick Mac Nicol/Caryn Mac Nicol 22.36
3.Geoffrey Speirs/Nic Tingle 25.06
Images: Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media