Surf provides fresh challenge for race three participants
Durban – Global paddling icon Hank McGregor clinched his second victory in three races of this year’s Bay Union Surfski Series when he powered to victory in Sunday’s Lion of Africa Surf Challenge at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club while Nicole Russell won the women’s race.
McGregor is currently preparing for the Molokai Challenge that is set to take place in Hawaii at the end of May however the five time Canoe Marathon World Champion still managed to hold a strong men’s field on a course that included three testing surf turns.
“It was another beautiful day in Durban, perfect paddling conditions and just a great day to be down on the beach!” said the Jeep Team/Epic Kayaks athlete afterwards.
“It was great to see another nice turn out at the race and the conditions were just ideal; you could’ve even paddled your canoe out there!
“I’m busy preparing for a 50km plus race so it was more about testing myself and checking my speed than anything else, but it’s always nice to get a win as well.”
A four-man sprint for second eventually saw the consistent Gene Prato edge out Wade Kriger, Steve Woods and Barry Lewin for the runners-up position before McGregor then went on to win the surf lifesaving style Bay Union Spec Ski Challenge as well.
“I managed to get away quite early in the main race and then it was just about making sure I didn’t get caught out at any of the surf turns which definitely serve their purpose with the water being so flat as they added a little bit of a test,” said McGregor.
“I then also managed to get the win in the dash-for-cash around the cans contest so it was a great Sunday morning’s paddle all round!”
Meanwhile Russell continued her strong recent run of form as she too clinched her second victory of the series after her narrow win in Monday’s hard-fought McCarthy Toyota Durban King of the Bay clash.
“It’s so good to get a win in the bank because there is just such stiff competition in the girls’ race at the moment so you really have to work hard to get a win,” said Russell.
“I believe the caliber of the top girls is on a par with the guys at the moment and the depth is just unbelievable!
“There’s Michelle (Burn), Jenna (Ward), Donna (Tutton), Kyeta (Purchase), Hayley (Arthur) and even Danica (Bartho) when she’s able to join us on the water as well so it really is tough racing every single week!”
A clean start and strong early effort saw Russell clinch the victory despite an error on one of the popular surf turns.
“I got away right from start and then the first lap was a bit of a lonely lap.
“Fortunately I was joined by some guys at end of first lap and we managed to work together for a bit before I then had a silly swim at one of the surf turns which ended up with me getting sand in my nose and a double (ski) landing on my head! Luckily it didn’t cost me in the end though.
The doubles category continues to attract some of the province’s top vets and masters talent however it was the youthful Irvin Dixon and Dewald Hattingh who held off junior doubles crew Luke Criticos and Thomas Lovemore.
The newly launched Bay Union Team Challenge – which sees the best three scores of each four-man outfit contribute to each team’s overall points tally each week – has created much excitement and early leaders Freedom Squad look to hold off the chasers of My Gas Lighties, Jeep Team Renegade and My Gas Bullies as they go in search of their share of the R20000 prize pool.
“Lion of Africa Insurance became part of Durban’s surfski community through last year’s Bay Union Surfski Series and it is great to see them not only back again for this year’s series but they have also increased their support of the series even further this time around and we are extremely grateful for their generosity!” said Lewin.
Newcomer to the Bay Union Surfski Series calendar, the Bay Union Dairy Challenge is next up and is set to take place at Durban Surf Lifesaving Club at Dairy Beach on Durban’s Beachfront on Sunday 10 May at 08h00. More information can be found at www.pitchandpaddle.co.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – LION OF AFRICA SURF CHALLENGE
RACE THREE OF THE 2015 BAY UNION SURFSKI SERIES
1.Bailey de Fondaumiere
3.Hamish Lovemore (U16)
1.Irvin Dixon/Dewald Hattingh
2.Thomas Lovemore/Luke Criticos (U18)
3.Bryce Hatton/Mark Stanton
1.Ryan Atkin/Jacqui Boyd
1.Sharon Armstrong/Lynn Hauptfleisch