Durban – With a major bout of Dusi Canoe Marathon fever doing the rounds, the sixth race of the 2014 Varsity College Marine Surfski Series unfolded in a sea of pink as Durban’s paddlers showed their support for the popular Lettie Paddle campaign on Tuesday 11 February.
The Lettie Paddle Surfski Challenge saw Durban’s summer surfski series affiliate itself with a charitable cause for the first time and saw Epic Kayak’s powerhouse Matt Bouman and series female standout Michelle Burn claim comfortable victories in the men’s and women’s clashes respectively.
The Lettie Paddle campaign was started by surfski paddler Danica Bartho when she tackled the testing Richards Bay to Durban race in support of her good friend and fellow paddler Nikki ‘Lettie’ Heynes who is currently fighting against cancer.
Bartho’s aim was to both funds and awareness of the deadly disease whilst also encouraging fellow paddlers and the general public alike to take up a challenge in support of someone they know battling against cancer.
Clad in pink, the colour now commonly associated with cancer awareness, paddlers took up Bartho’s challenge on Tuesday evening and, fittingly, did so in testing conditions, Mother Nature’s metaphor for the challenge those battling cancer are faced with daily, perhaps.
“It is fantastic to welcome Lettie Paddle to our series and we are honoured to be able to support such a great initiative,” said series organiser Barry Lewin.
“Lettie Paddle is a campaign by a paddler for a paddler and it’s great that some of the rest of the paddling fraternity are able to show their support as well!
“The amount of pink clothing, pink hair spray and pink boat stickers we saw this evening just goes to show how close to the hearts of paddlers the Lettie Paddle campaign is and we look forward to working with the initiative closely in the future,” he added.
With regular men’s star Fenn/Team Jeep’s Hank McGregor absent from the line-up as he turns his focus towards the Dusi temporarily, the Umhlanga powerhouse Bouman claimed a comfortable victory despite the tricky conditions.
“That was fun but definitely quite tough!” said Bouman. “There weren’t really any runs out there that were of much assistance. They kind of all over the place.”
Bouman cruised home ahead of Varsity College/Team Jeep’s Grant van der Walt while Wade Krieger, having recently returned home after many years on the Australian lifesaving Iron Man circuit, finishing third, overcoming the potent combination of huge surf, testing swells and the never-ending threat of bluebottles brought in by the North Easterly.
Fenn/Team Jeep’s Burn claimed her fifth victory of the series and is now just a single positive result away from yet another series title with as many as four opportunities to achieve her desired result.
Nikki Russell fought hard against the elements to clinch second place with Bartho claiming a brave third.
Two of EuroSteel’s countless Dusi K2 combinations enjoyed successfully final pre-race hit-outs with Wayne Wilson and Shaun Dias winning the doubles category, finishing ahead of Mark Mulder and Dave Chaplin while Ryan Atkins and Julie Cornelius’ sublime run continued in the mixed doubles division.
Friday 21 February sees the DionWired Surfski Challenge, race seven of the 2014 Varsity College Marine Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 at Addington Beach.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – LETTIE PADDLE SURFSKI CHALLENGE
RACE SIX OF THE VARSITY COLLEGE MARINE SURFSKI SERIES
1.Matt Bouman 28.14
2.Grant van der Walt 28.48
3.Wade Krieger 29.44
4.Jean Luc Mauvis 29.51
5.Clint Pretorius 30.14
1.Michelle Burn 32.46
2.Nicole Russell 34.16
3.Danica Bartho 36.25
1.Jordan Clauson 34.03
2.Keagan Kok 36.06
3.Brett Wilken (U16) 37.29
1.Wayne Wilson/Shaun Dias 29.40
2.Mark Mulder/Dave Chaplin 30.22
3.Barry Lewin/Lee Furby 30.26
1.Ryan Atkins/Julie Cornelius 33.55
1.Sipho Luthuli 22.47
2.Graham Hooper 25.10
3.Dylan Riddle 26.50
1.Jody Taylor/Duane Taylor 21.28
2.John Cherry/R Rautenbach 22.25
3.Geoffrey Speirs/Nic Tingle 26.44
All images Gameplan Media / Anthony Grote