Multiple marathon world champion Hank McGregor underscored his ocean racing class by claiming his fourth back-to-back win in the FNB Surfski Series, while Hayley Nixon, recently crowned women’s World Surfski Series champion, powering home to take the ladies spoils.
In the men’s race McGregor revelled in the light Easterly onshore conditions, powering away from his nearest challenger Grant van der Walt over the two laps, with Wade Krieger making up the rest of the men’s singles podium.
“The conditions gave us some really nice runs on the downwind leg coming into the beach,” said the EuroSteel/Epic Kayaks athlete.
“I managed to get a gap on the first lap and then managed to hold off a charging Grant van der Walt on the second lap to claim the win,” he added.
After missing the start of the series, McGregor has taken a stranglehold on the men’s title race with his unbeaten run since he re-joined the weekly showdowns. It will be interesting to see whether he maintains his presence in the next two races, squeezed into five days before the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon.
Nixon was thrilled with her win in the women’s race in the moderate downwind conditions, adding real intrigue to a women’s series that has seen the top three places juggled regularly amongst the world class field of female surfski paddlers contesting the Durban Bay Friday night hit-outs.
“The ladies race started with quite a charge. Donna Winter and Michelle Burn shot out of the blocks,” said Euro Steel/Carbonology Sports’ Nixon.
“Bridgitte Hartley and I had some serious work to do to catch up to those two rocket ships, but we managed to be all together by the first turn can. Then Bridgitte and I got away, racing stroke for stroke, pushing each other to see who would fall off the pace,” said Nixon.
Hartley opened up a hundred metre lead on the outbound leg, and looked to have a vital race win in her grasp. But Nixon retooled her race plan, as she did in her recent Perth Doctor win, and by the end of the first lap she had caught Hartley as they turned into the tricky leg that was being battered by the side swell.
“In those conditions, it can be quite hard because your boat is being thrown around quite a bit, I focused on taking those hits and keeping my rhythm and managed to get away from her,” said Nixon.
She powered away on the second downwind leg, pacing herself against fellow male paddlers, always aware that Hartley’s speed and fitness were a threat behind her.
Her win throws the women’s series title race wide open, with Michelle Burn having won in big sea conditions last week, and the tenacious Bridgitte Hartley consistently racing to vital wins and podium places in the first half of the series.
The form doubles crew of Jason Eckstrand and Richard Lowe once again laid down a scorching marker, posting the quickest time of the evening, with Lee McGregor and Tyrone Maher taking second and Travis Wilson and Bruce Wenke the third doubles prize.
Kyeta Purchase and Tamryn McKie romped home to take the women’s doubles scalp.
Short course honours went to Matt Maroun, with the young doubles crew of Tayla Wakeling and Thomas Lovemore impressing with the fastest short course time of the evening.
Brandon Read was the first stand-up paddle boarder to cross the finish line on the beach outside Marine SLC.
The Borland Surfski Challenge presented by Marriott, Race Six of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday, 10 February at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, Addington Beach.
1 Hank McGregor 39:08
2 Grant Van Der Walt 39:51
3 Wade Krieger 40:26
4 Hamish Lovemore 40:50
5 Steve Woods 41:00
1 Hayley Nixon 44:58
2 Bridgitte Hartley 45:13
3 Michelle Burn 46:53
4 Donna Winter 49:05
5 Pippa McGregor 49:15
1 Jason Ekstrand/Richard Lowe 38:57
2 Tyron Maher/Lee McGregor 40:19
3 Travis Wilson/Justin Wenke 41:46
1 Kyeta Purchase/Tamryn McKie 46:30
2 Louisa Van Staaden/Wilma Deyzel 50:06
1 Jenna Ward/Luke Nisbet 39:36
2 Raquel Arcediano/Gareth Miles 46:53
3 Lynn3 Hauptfleisch/Derek Hauptfleisch 49:05
1 Hamish Lovemore 40:50
2 Brendon Delport 42:58
3 Sabina Lawrie 5:55
1 Matthew Maroun 26:03
2 Bruce Jackson 27:13
3 Jasper Gaylard 28:07
1 Tayla Wakeling/Thomas Lovemore 23:575
2 Keaton Riddle/Aston Lawson 24:38
3 Zoog Haynes/Ty Haynes 24:46
1 Brandon Read 38:05
2 Matt Swemmer 40:06
3 Robbie de Billot 40:09
images: Anthony Grote