It was a battle of tactics at the first instalment of the McCarthy Toyota Umhlanga King of the Bay on Sunday as Epic Kayak/Team Jeep’s Grant van der Walt outsmarted the rest of the field to power to a substantial win in the third leg of the 2014 Bay Union Surfski Series with Fenn Kayaks Jenna Ward claiming the ‘Queen of the Bay’ crown after she beat a determined Hayley Arthur to the shore.
It was a long, steady slog for the paddlers as they felt each other out over the 9km from the Stella Canoe Club clubhouse to the mouth of the harbour and that is where the racing started with a number of boats falling off the back of the leading bunch.
Van der Walt and Epic Kayaks’ Matt Bouman opened up a fairly extensive lead over the rest of the field and both chose to take different lines towards the turning can at the uMngeni river mouth and the varying tactics seemed to be the difference between the two.
“It was really flat out there today which made it so much fun,” an elated Van der Walt said following his win. “There was a little bit of a bump and the wind picked up on the way back and it was quite difficult coming back into the wind but it was super fun!”
Having been in the bunch through the harbour Van der Walt decided to stick closer to the shore than the other paddlers once they got out of the harbour and that seemed to give him a slight edge but he was feeling good following the first nine kilometre pull.
“I was feeling really good when we got out of the harbour and I was nice and fresh so I just kept up the tempo.
“I saw that Matt (Bouman) had decided to take a deeper line and I stayed shallower and when I got to the can I had a 25 metre lead and I just put my head down from there and just went and it worked out well for me in the end!” a satisfied Van der Walt added.
Bouman’s charge was unfortunately impeded after he picked up a long piece of fishing line on his rudder but he was not looking to that as an excuse and was happy with his race but was gracious in defeat to an impressive Van der Walt.
“I didn’t feel that great today but Grant (Van der Walt) was really strong and I had a bit of trouble but I don’t know if that would have made much of a difference to the result because Grant was looking so good,” Bouman said graciously.
Being on top form every race is a necessity in order to win these days and Bouman realises that the quality of racing is high so the pressure is always on to perform. Tactically, Bouman was unable to match Van der Walt and misjudged the position of the turning buoy which did not help his cause.
“You have to be on top of your game all the time because the guys in Durban are all good paddlers!” he mentioned. “I stayed deeper than Grant because I got the impression that the buoy was going to be quite far out but it wasn’t the case and I was fighting the ocean in order to stay right but when I got to the buoy I realised that my advantage suddenly became a disadvantage.”
Bouman was very diplomatic about his race and was not disappointed with how he went and understood that his problems were not through any of his own doing.
“It was a really fun race and I got some good runs but I can’t blame myself for what happened out there, you can only control what you can control at the end of the day,” he concluded.
The ladies race was hotly contested with Hayley Arthur proving to be a more than worthy opponent for the eventual winner Jenna Ward. Ward has claimed her third win of the Bay Union Surfski Series and leads the women’s standings by some margin after a challenging race.
“It was really difficult out there!” an exhausted Ward said. “When we turned at the can and headed back into the wind it made it really difficult and the last six kilometres were really tough and it was harder for me because paddling into the wind is definitely a weakness of mine.”
It was a case of keeping her head down and pushing for the finish for Ward who was unsure about where the chasing ladies were in relation to her but once she got a glimpse of them she put the hammer down and managed to hold of a chasing Arthur to take the win.
“Not knowing where the other girls were made it quite difficult but when I turned at the can I saw Hayley (Arthur) and Kerry (Segal) and seeing them just behind me made me work harder which was quite good actually.
“Hayley is new to the sea and she did really well and she is going to be stiff competition for the rest of the series!” a wary Ward mentioned.
The Short Course was a shootout over 11km and it was Hilton College pupil Thomas Lovemore who claimed the victory over Steve Botha and Luke Chalupsky and Mark Spencer claimed the doubles prize in the shorter race.
The final event of the 2014 Bay Union Surfski Series is the Bay Union Reef Challenge, presented by Point Watersports Club (incorporating the Wardkiss Club Challenge) and the Bay Union Surfski Shootout that takes place at the Durban Undersea Club on Sunday, 25 May. More info can be found at www.pitchandpaddle.co.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – BAY UNION SURFSKI SERIES
McCarthy Toyota Umhlanga King of the Bay
1. Grant van der Walt 1.31.05
2. Matt Bouman 1.32.27
3. Barry Lewin 1.36.06
4. Herman Chalupsky 1.36.13
5. Martin Mauvis 1.36.20
6. Wayne Wilson 1.38.06
7. Jason Ekstrand 1.38.12
8. Irvin Dixon 1.38.26
9. Gene Prato 1.39.59
10. Nic Burden 1.40.41
1. Jenna Ward 1.52.22
2. Hayley Arthur 1.54.38
3. Kerry Segal 1.56.33
1. Gavin Searle/Linton Hope 1.30.55
2. Warren Valentine/Marc Germiquet 1.32.27
3. Lee McGregor/Allan Hold 1.32.40
1. Jacqui Boyd/Ryan Aikins 1.41.11
2. Bruce Jackson/Lindy Bradshaw 1.56.59
3. Jacques Labuschagne/Carin Schmidt 2.02.40
1. Antje Manfroni/Anna Clifford Arwidi 1.52.15
1. Keagan Kok 1.42.22
2. Jordan Clauson 1.46.28
3. Bailey De Fondaumiere (U16) 1.48.24
1. Thomas Lovemore (U18) 42.19
2. Steve Botha 42.37
3. Ian Greig 43.34
1. Luke Chalupsky/Mark Spencer 37.48
2. Rory McNeill/Patrick McNeill 39.17
3. Werner Holtzhausen/Greg Bennett 39.51
All photos: Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media