An earlier start, additional race, all-new team challenge and a fresh and exciting online entry portal will see the popular Bay Union Surfski Series’ trend of growth and innovation continue in 2015 when racing gets underway with the Bay Union Grading Race this Sunday, 19 April.
A combination of fresh ideas and the series’ reputation hosting top quality events in idyllic paddling conditions is set to see hundreds of paddlers converge on Marine Surf Lifesaving Club (SLC) at Addington Beach this weekend for the first contest of the popular winter series.
“We are extremely excited to kick start the third edition of the Bay Union Surfski Series this weekend at Marine,” says series coordinator Barry Lewin.
“A lot of work has gone into ensuring we continue from where we left off at the end of last year’s series while we have also looked to keep things fresh, exciting and as user-friendly as possible!” he adds.
The introduction of the Bay Union Dairy Challenge at Durban Surf Lifesaving Club at Dairy Beach on Sunday 10 May will add a new dimension to this year’s calendar and Lewin believes the new event will complement the series’ four existing fixtures.
“Durban’s bay provides the environment in which to stage surfski events that cater for all level of paddlers and so we look forward to two events taking place at Marine and one at PWC [Point Watersports Club] this year.
“The McCarthy Toyota Durban King of the Bay race then presents paddlers with such a unique opportunity to paddle their way across Durban’s harbour and out the harbour mouth.
“Adding the Bay Union Dairy Challenge at Dairy Beach to the calendar this year brings in a whole new element to the series and I’m everyone will enjoy the new venue and the subsequent new challenge that awaits them,” says Lewin.
Through the backing of title sponsors Bay Union Financial Services and major contributors Lion of Africa Insurance, this year’s series is set to introduce another exciting new concept in the shape of the Bay Union Team Challenge.
“We believe it has the potential to go a long way in recognizing the races-within-the-races that go on behind the racing snakes on a weekly basis.
“Paddlers enter a team of four for all five races of the series. Each team member then paddles in each race of the series and is awarded points according to when they finish within their grade.
“Each week their team’s best three scores then contribute to their series points tally and at the end of the series we will be giving away a whopping R20000 to the top teams across the three categories – sponsored, mixed and club/non-sponsored,” explains Lewin.
The choice of going through the traditional on-the-day manual entry process or utilizing ROAG’s online entry portal is something Lewin also believes will further heighten paddlers’ overall experience of the series.
“Once again there isn’t a series entry fee, there aren’t any added late entry fees and now there are multiple ways in which paddlers can enter a race or even the whole series.
“This is all in an effort to make the admin process as cheap, quick and painless as possible for the paddlers.”
While many weekend warriors ready themselves for this Sunday’s charge, the sharp end of the field are also eagerly eyeing out their first clash of the new winter season.
2014’s men’s title was claimed by the now career-focused Grant van der Walt after the youngster’s consistent form throughout and regular men’s front-runners Hank McGregor and Matt Bouman’s busy international calendars.
McGregor (Team Jeep/Epic Kayaks) and Bouman (Epic Kayaks) however enjoyed yet another hard-fought tussle throughout the summer’s Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series and with this year’s winter programme set to commence two weeks earlier, the pair look to set to go head to head once more this winter.
Last year’s Bay Union Surfski Series saw young Jenna Ward (Fenn Kayaks) claim her maiden series crown and the defending champ has been in tremendous form since and will be hoping to stake another solid claim for this year’s spoils.
The darling of Durban’s surfski community, Michelle Burn (Fenn Kayaks) is however back once more having missed much of last year’s series due to the birth of her daughter and the 2013 series title winner will be undoubtedly be eager to prove her class once more.
The Bay Union Grading Race, race one of the 2015 Bay Union Surfski Series, takes place at 09h00 on Sunday 19 April at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club at Addington Beach, Durban. More information can be found at www.pitchandpaddle.co.za