The 2016 Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back Surfski Series began in dramatic fashion on Friday evening as tricky surf and tough conditions greeted paddlers with Wade Krieger and Jenna Ward claiming wins handing them the upper hand after the first of six legs.
The opening salvo of the demanding series was missing defending champion Hank McGregor, however the competition between winner Krieger and Matt Bouman was always going to be an interesting one and it played out to script.
“It was a tough race especially taking on Matt (Bouman) who is a really tough rival and fierce competitor,” Herbalife/Epic Kayak’s Krieger said after his win.
“The surf was tricky and we had to do some hard turns early to avoid the sets as well as a couple of doubles but it was well worth it in the end.”
The first race of the 2015 series followed a very similar pattern with Krieger and Bouman fighting it out for the honours. Krieger took the honours in 2015 and repeated the achievement again in 2016.
“The race got really intense on the way back with Matthew and I going head to head but I have been in that situation before with Hank (McGregor) so I knew that I couldn’t give up.
“I decided to turn in early instead of continuing the extra few metres deeper and got to the shore with a 200 metre run for the line.
“It paid off as I made the right decision and got to the finish line first which I am really stoked about!” a satisfied Krieger added.
SMG/Epic Kayak’s Bouman was pipped to the line by just three seconds with Steve Woods completing the podium, finishing just under three minutes behind the winner.
Owing in part to the difficulty of the conditions Euro Steel/Fenn Kayak’s Jenna Ward was the only female paddler to take on the first race of the 2016 Wall and Back series finishing fourteenth overall.
“It was really fun to be back in the sea racing despite the big surf and choppy water,” Ward mentioned.
“I am hoping for a series win but all the girls are so it is going to be really interesting racing for the series title.
“There will be some strong girls on the start line next week so I am just really looking forward to some good, hard racing,” added Ward.
The young dup of Clinton Cook and Thomas Lovemore were the first double to cross the line ahead of Lee Muir and Shaun Burgin in second and Irvin Dixon and Byron McKie in third.
More information can be found at www.wallandback.co.za
1.Wade Krieger 36:56
2.Matt Bouman 36:59
3.Steve Woods 39:42
1.Jenna Ward 53:08
1.Brendon Delport 01:03:13
1.Clinton Cook/Thomas Lovemore 39:46
2.Lee Muir/Shaun Burgin 44:07
3.Irvin Dixon/Byron McKie 45:54
Images: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media