Winklespruit – The ET Security/Andre’s Electrical Winkle Surfski Challenge, the penultimate race of the five leg 2015 FNB Durban Downwind Surfski Series, saw the fourth race winner crowned in as many races when Wade Krieger claimed his maiden victory of this year’s series while Hayley Arthur secured a second consecutive race win in the women’s clash.
Krieger made the transition from surf lifesaving to surfski relatively recently however his consistency and willingness to learn has seen him become a regular presence amidst KZN’s world class field of elite paddlers.
With many of the province’s top athletes absent from Winklespruit’s start line due to their participation in the weekend’s Mauritius Ocean Classic and having seen victory slip through his finger two weekends ago at the Seabreeze Build it 5 Beaches, Krieger wasn’t about to miss out on his first race win of this year’s series this time despite Winklespruit local Gene Prato breathing down his neck throughout.
“It was really nice to get the win!” said Krieger. “Other than a four to five foot wave at the start, it was quite a long, hard grind out there.”
“The organisers opted for a backline start and the junior double (Brett Evans and Jarryd Gibson) got away really quickly so Gene (Prato) and I tucked in behind them and sat in the slipstream for a bit before I then took the initiative and took up the pull for most of the rest of the way.
“I made a bit of a mistake coming in to the finish though and went a bit wide which meant Gene could come through on my inside which forced me to take a bit of a risk.
“Fortunately it paid off though and I managed to get a fifteen meter gap on him right at the end but as I got to the beach I had extreme dead-leg which resulted in a sprint up the beach that thankfully I managed to win by a meter in the end,” he added.
On top of his enjoyment for competition, Krieger has relished the fresh challenge the FNB Durban Downwind Surfski Series has presented and paid tribute to the organisers of the series’ South Coast clashes in particular.
“I see every race as an opportunity to become a better paddler and I’ve really enjoyed the different challenge that racing on the south Coast brings,” he said.
“The people on the South Coast have really taken the initiative and put on some really great races and hats off to them for putting the effort for us!”
For Arthur, her back-to-back victories in the women’s race will give her good confidence ahead of next weekend’s series feature race – the FNB Durban Downwind – as she looks to take on some of the sport’s top female competitors, including a resurgent Michelle Burn (Fenn Kayaks) who claimed a win of her own this weekend when she reigned supreme in Mauritius.
Young Evans and Gibson make light work of the rest of the doubles pairings to claim the category’s victory over Ross and Bruce Poacher while Skye Prato – father of singles runner-up Gene Prato – and Alastair Caddick finished third.
All the attention now turns to the series fifth and final race, the FNB Durban Downwind, next weekend with racing set to take place on either Saturday 11 or Sunday 12 July depending on when the wind is expected to be most suitable. The final race date and venue will be announced on the series’ Facebook page on Thursday while more information can be found at www.durbandownwind.co.za
1.Wade Krieger 1:07.10
2.Gene Prato 1:07.11
3.Greg Worthington 1:13.55
4.Neil Evans 1:14.29
5.Ross Fountain 1:15.42
1.Hayley Arthur 1:17.37
1.Brett Evans/Jarryd Gibson (U18) 1:07.24
2.Ross Poacher/Bruce Poacher 1:14.22
3.Skye Prato/Alastair Caddick 1:20.50
1.Roy Carty 50.40
Photos: Topfoto/Gameplan Media