Olympic flavour wraps up 2016 Wall & Back Series

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After Wade Krieger and Jenna Ward wrapped up overall Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back Surfski Series titles, Friday night saw Matt Bouman and 2012 London Olympic sprint bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley claim race wins in favourable conditions at the sixth and final race of the 2016 series.

Having missed out on an overall title shot when Krieger’s series lead became unassailable last week, SMG/Epic Kayaks’ Bouman was dominant as he powered his way to his second win in his fourth outing meaning he finished the series in second place overall.

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In favourable conditions it was the pair of Byron McKie and Irvin Dixon who were the strongest at Race 6, the final race of the 2016 Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back Surfski Series, on Friday evening.

With four races counting towards the overall series standings, Jenna Ward’s second place finish at race 6 meant that she took home the spoils and with it her second Wall and Back series title following her 2014 series win.

“It has been a long year for all of us but it is always great coming out on a Friday night and having fun in the surf,” Euro Steel’s Ward mentioned.

“We have missed a few of the girls but it was great having Bridgitte (Hartley) here in the ocean and I really enjoyed the whole series!

“It’s great to get another series win and I think the series is always a great way to end the season in Durban but I am now shifting my focus to the Cape Point Challenge soon so it isn’t quite time to relax yet!”

Euro Steel star Hartley is not familiar with the conditions at Pirates SLC, and despite their gnarly reputation she was grateful that she was greeted by some tame surf and some gentle off-shore conditions for her Wall and Back debut.

“I think it must have been some beginners luck because we had some pretty calm conditions!” Hartley said with a smile.

“Having some good conditions made it a lot easier for me as I managed to get out past the backline safely and was fifth overall. After that I just put my head down and followed Matt’s (Bouman) lead as he decided to paddle a bit deeper than others.

“We managed to get a few sets on the way back which was exciting and I really enjoyed my time in the ocean.

Despite an Olympic medal to her name Hartley is still an ocean racing novice and with her push towards the 2017 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships she is branching out into other paddling codes.

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In what was unfamiliar territory, Euro Steel’s Bridgitte Hartley showed her versatility when she won the women’s race at Race 6, the final race of the 2016 Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back Surfski Series, on Friday evening.

“I used to paddle a bit in the ocean but never seriously so I still think I am a beginner and I think that I am more comfortable in a river boat than a surfski!” she chuckled. “Unfortunately I missed the weekly dice so I decided that I would take on a Friday night surfski race and I really enjoyed it.”

The men’s podium was rounded out by Steve Woods with Irvin Dixon and Byron McKie dominating the doubles encounter as they led the mixed pair of Oliver and Michelle Burn, who were the first mixed double home, across the line.

1.Matt Bouman 35.00
2.Wade Krieger 35.15
3.Steve Woods 35.18

1.Bridgitte Hartley 40.04
2.Jenna Ward 42.53
3.Thea van der Westhuizen 52.31

Junior Men
1.Bailey de Foundemiere 37.02
2.Brendon Delport 43.12

1.Byron McKie/Irvin Dixon 36.27
2.Oliver Burn/Michelle Burn 37.19
3.Thomas Lovemore/Tayla Walkeling 42.10

1.Oliver Burn/Michelle Burn 37.19
2.Thomas Lovemore/Tayla Walkeling 42.10
3.John-Craig Springate/Olivia Springate 48.37

1.Savannah van Rooyen/Siobhan Sharp 47.44

Images: Top Foto/Gameplan Media

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