Durban – Hank McGregor and Michelle Burn brought the curtain down on the popular Bay Union Surfski Series in style as they blitzed their way to victory in the Bay Union Reef Challenge presented by DUC, the third and final leg of the series, earning themselves the overall series spoils before the pair added the men’s Bay Union Shootout title to their collection as well.
The final battle of the series, staged at DUC for the first time ever, was a hard fought one of four short, sharp laps. Despite efforts from Grant van der Walt (Team Jeep/Varsity College), Matt Bouman (Epic Kayaks), Brandon van der Walt (Team Jeep) and Barry Lewin (Team Jeep/Varsity College) it was McGregor who cruised to victory to make it win number three of the three race affair.
Having then eased through the heat and semi-final of the novel Bay Union Shootout, presented by DUC – a surfski sprint type event around Durban’s landmark, Vetchies Reef – McGregor (Team Fenn) then managed to claw his way back from the worst possible start in the final to edge out a determined Bouman and take the Shootout spoils as well.
In the day’s feature race it was Brandon van der Walt who completed the first lap first, claiming the Lion of Africa Insurance Hotspot prize in the process, before back and forth racing between the lead group ultimately saw McGregor claim the spoils.
“I could not believe it when I fell out,” explained a flabbergasted McGregor afterwards. “I hopped in, took my first stroke but my paddle blade was skew so over I went.”
“I hopped back on but the others were gone and I had to work as hard as I possibly could to get back up to them. I also knew I only had until the first turn can to close the gap if I wanted to have a chance of winning because there was just no catching them on the downwind leg.”
“Fortunately I managed to close the gap, stuck with them run for run coming back down and then I had the inside line on the final turn can so I was pretty relieved to take the win in the end!” he added.
The novel idea saw paddlers dice it out over a short, 800m triangular course with winner taking all in the age groups whilst a process of elimination finally saw the top four battle it out in the senior men’s category.
“The Bay Union Shootout is a fantastic idea and I think a day like today – where there is the normal race and then the Shootout – is the perfect way to finish the series off,” explained McGregor.
“The series has been great. It’s been something new for everyone and with the races so spread out it means everyone can do all of the races.
“The Shootout was also lots of fun, especially for us at the front of the field, because this way everyone gets to watch everything from the beach and can see what racing really goes on at the front, whereas the rest of the field usually misses it because they usually still paddling when we’re finishing.
“I think the idea definitely has legs and will grow and grow going forward,” he added.
Having wrapped up second place in the day’s feature race Grant van der Walt was then forced into third place in the Shootout by Bouman although a storming, creative effort from van der Walt’s younger brother, Brandon, tested the judges somewhat.
Having turned the final buoy in fourth place, instead of paddling along the shore line and through the finish line – a route which would have guaranteed he remained behind Bouman and his older brother – Brandon opted to beach early and run the final 150 meters.
Much to the delight of the crowd the youngster’s efforts saw him narrowly edge out the other two, his move was however unfortunately deemed against the rules as paddlers were required to finish in the water, and hence he was relegated to fourth once more.
In the women’s sprint out, it was once again Burn, Danica Bartho and Jenna Ward (Varsity College) who claimed first, second and third place whilst Gene Prato (Glenwood High School) took the juniors title, Quinton Rutherford the over 40 men, Oscar Chalupsky the over 50 men and Oliver Burn and Warren Beuster the doubles title.
“It was great to win the main race and the series title today and then the Shootout was great fun and definitely something I’d love to see more of,” explained Burn.
“I haven’t been in the ski much since the World Surfski Championships in Portugal because I’ve been trying to get ready for the World Marathon Champs in Denmark in a few weeks’ time so it was pretty tough and Danica (Bartho) really pushed me the whole way so I was pretty relieved the course was a bit shorter and I could hang on for the win.
“The series has been great and with the three races being quite spread out it’s caught everyone at different times of their season and their peaks so it’s been really interesting.
Earlier in the day the Wardkiss Paint & Hardware Team Challenge was aptly claimed by hosts DUC with Toti Canoe Club and Kingfisher Canoe Club finishing in second and third respectively.
The event brought down the curtain on Durban’s winter paddling season with many of the region’s paddling now turning their attention towards World Marathon Champs in Copenhagen, Denmark before tackling the Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon in Cradock whilst the next major surfski race in KZN is the Dolphin Coast Challenge on 17 & 18 August.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – BAY UNION SURFSKI SERIES
BAY UNION REEF CHALLENGE, PRESENTED BY DUC
1.Hank McGregor 37.16
2.Grant van der Walt 37.26
3.Matt Bouman 37.44
4.Brandon van der Walt 38.14
5.Barry Lewin 39.43
6.Adam Nisbet 40.11
7.Oscar Chalupsky 40.50
8.Brett Bartho 41.05
9.Gene Prato (U18) 41.23
10.Nic Burden 41.41
1.Michelle Burn 43.38
2.Danica Bartho 46.01
3.Jenna Ward 47.34
1.Lee McGregor/Alan Hold 38.44
2.Oliver Burn/Warren Beuster 39.03
3.Gavin Searle/Linton Hope 39.13
1.Joe Boy/Louisa van Staden 43.55
2.Butch Murray/Julie Cornelius 45.33
3.Clive Hockly/Antje Hockly 50.48
1.Gene Prato 41.23
2.Calvin McKie 41.51
3.Jordan Clauson 43.00
1.Warren Cooper 24.26
2.Sipho Luthuli 24.27
3.Shane Gouldie 25.17
1.Kade Burnett/Coral-Lee Burnett 24.45
2.Bailey de Fondaumiere/Kenton Riddle 24.53
3.Trent Baird/Sandile Shange 25.29
WARDKISS PAINT & HARDWARE TEAM CHALLENGE
1.Durban Underwater Club (DUC)
2.Toti Canoe Club
3.Kingfisher Canoe Club
BAY UNION SHOOTOUT, PRESENTED BY DUC
3.Grant van der Walt
4.Brandon van der Walt
Over 40 Men
Over 50 Men
1.Oliver Burn/Warren Beuster
More info can be found at www.pitchandpaddle.co.za