Five time Marathon World Champ Hank McGregor returned from his second place finish at last weekend’s Steelcase Dragon Run in Hong Kong to comfortably win the sixth and final leg of the 2014 Illovo Suncoast Wall and Back Surfski Series while Jean Luc Mauvis and Jenna Ward wrapped up the men’s and women’s series titles respectively.
In just his second appearance of the series due to his busy international racing schedule, McGregor (Team Jeep/Epic Kayaks) soared to a massive two and a half minute victory however it was the scrap just behind him that was of real interest as the pre-race series title contenders went head to head.
Prior to the final clash of the 2014 edition of the series getting underway, Mauvis, Gene Prato, Barry Lewin and Wade Krieger all sought a solid final race effort to see the scales tip in their favour for the overall spoils.
Despite a determined effort from the former lifesaving ironman Krieger, in the end Mauvis’ two victories in race four and five and hard-fought third place on Friday evening saw the Fenn Kayaks paddler narrowly edge of series consistent performer Prato and clinch the top step of the podium.
“It’s my first ever series win so I’m really stoked and its particularly pleasing because I started at Pirates Lifesaving Club as a nipper and the series is one of the oldest in the world,” said a pleased Mauvis.
“We always knew Hank (McGregor) was probably going to get the win so it was more about the rest of us racing amongst ourselves.
“Wade (Krieger) and I have enjoyed a great battle all series and he and I went hammer and tongs at each other which probably ended up playing an important role in my series win because it meant we got away from Gene (Prato) and I only realized afterwards just how close it was between Gene and I for the title,” he added.
With other early-series front runner Kyle Friendenstein in Australia for the Perth Doctor surfski race, Lewin managed to charge home in fourth place on the night to secure the same position overall ahead of the ever-present Oliver Burn who wrapped up fifth place on the series’ log.
The women’s clash was a fascinating affair throughout the six-leg competition as Varsity College/Fenn Kayaks’ Nikki Russell clinched victory in the first three races ahead of Fenn Kayaks’ Jenna Ward before Ward then claimed two race victories of her own, including the win in Friday evening’s sixth and final leg, to claim the overall series spoils.
Ward’s success comes off the back of her maiden surfski series win in the Bay Union Surfski Series in Durban this winter as well as a remarkable bronze medal in the under-23 women’s clash of the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Oklahoma City in September.
The young star’s victory was then made even sweeter when her name was drawn as the recipient of the lucky draw prize of a brand new surfski compliments of Fenn Kayaks and Illovo Sugar.
The doubles division has been a hotly contested one throughout the six weeks of racing from Suncoast Pirates Lifesaving Club to the harbour wall and back and in the end Wayne Wilson and Clinton Cook’s race six win had little impact on the overall standings as Greg Worthington and Malcolm Pitt clinched victory from Wayne Ashford and Bryan Taylor.
St Benedicts matriculant Jordan Clauson claimed the Varsity College SA Schools Surfski title in March and a clean sweep in the junior boys category of the Wall and Back Surfski Series saw him add this series title to his list of achievements for the year.
The Durban surfski scene now enjoys a break from competitive racing for the festive season however the FNB Surfski Challenge on 9 January 2015 gets the ten-leg Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series underway early in the new year.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – ILLOVO SUNCOAST WALL AND BACK SURFSKI SERIES
1.Hank McGregor 32.35
2.Wade Krieger 35.17
3.Jean Luc Mauvis 35.19
1.Jenna Ward 45.58
1.Jordan Clauson 38.13
2.Luke Criticos 38.55
3.Brett Evans 39.25
1.Wayne Wilson/Clinton Cook 34.05
2.Jason Ekstrand/Richard Lowe 34.13
3.Greg Worthington/Malcolm Pitt 34.42
1.Rowan Matthews/Stacey Bowley 38.26
2.Russell Sadler/Savannah van Rooyen 39.15
3.Terry Henebrey/Louisa van Staden 44.20
FINAL SERIES LOG
1.Jean Luc Mauvis
3.Bailey de Fondaumiere
1.Greg Worthington/Malcom Pitt
2.Wayne Ashford/Bryan Taylor
3.Russell Sadler/Carmel Billson
1.Russell Sadler/Carmel Billson
2.Rowan Matthews/Stacey Bowley
3.Terry Henebrey/Louisa van Staden
Photos: Anthony Grote