The 2017 Bay Union Surfski Series got underway with the Bay Union Single Surfski Challenge on Sunday morning, and the cream of KwaZulu-Natal surfski paddling crop rose to the top with Hank McGregor and Michelle Burn opening their series accounts with wins.
In some mild conditions paddlers raced a 12km loop course that took them up the coast to the Mngeni River mouth and back to the Marine Surf Lifesaving Club with a few shorts runs helping the paddlers.
It was Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks’ McGregor who was once again in a class of his own.
“It’s been a couple of weeks since I last raced in a ski so it was great to get back out there,” McGregor mentioned after his win.
“It was great racing against another top-class field as I head into my final preparations for the Moloki Ocean Challenge in Hawaii at the end of the month.
“At the moment I am training really hard and working towards racing a 56km race so it was great to see that my preparation is on track as I just finish testing my equipment and paddles.”
McGregor’s form is a worrying sign for the other paddlers hoping to claim wins in the Bay Union Series, but the current World Surfski Series champion is not slowing down as he looks forward to the other races in the series.
“Racing against a strong field week-in and week-out is the best preparation for me and to get a win over Matthew Bouman, who is going well at the moment, is always a good gauge on my form.
“Next week is the King of the Bay, one of the most unique races in the country in that we get to paddle out of the harbour. It’s always a race that I look forward to and am excited for that one,” added McGregor.
SMG/Epic Kayaks’ Bouman had to settle for second behind a dominant McGregor, however he was also a class apart as he finished over two minutes ahead of Bailey de Fondaumiere in third.
In the ladies race Fenn Kayaks’ Michelle Burn was too strong for the rest of the field as she showed further impressive winter season forrm claiming her second win in as many weekends ahead of Euro Steel’s Kyeta Purchase in second and Nikki Russell in third.
In the junior race, Hilton College’s Hamish Lovemore proved that he can continue to mix it with the best as he finished in seventh overall and beat Under 16 Hamish Mackenzie by three minutes with Brendon Delport finish third in the junior category.
The doubles race saw an unfamiliar face in Euro Steel’s 2017 FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon winner Andy Birkett, who hopped in the back of a ski with his Euro Steel team-mate Hayley Nixon. The pair were dominant as they won the doubles category by a minute and a half over Steve Woods and David Russell in second and Alex Masina and Stewart Little in third.
The short course provided a lot of excitement for novices and experienced paddlers alike as the Mckie duo of Calvin and Tamryn took home the top spot ahead of the single ski of Joshua Giddings in second with Billy and Tracy Harker coming home in third.
The stand-up paddleboarding category continues to get more and more competitive as Matt Swemmer came out on top ahead of Shayne Chipps in second and Jacqueline le Court de Billot in third position.
Race Two of the Bay Union Surfski Challenge, Bay Union King of the Bay, is coming up next week on 14 May 2017.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – Bay Union Singles Surfski Challenge – Race One Bay Union Surfski Series
1.Hank McGregor 50:45
2.Matthew Bouman 51:41
3.Bailey de Fondaumiere (U23) 53:47
4.Gene Prato (U23) 53:51
5.Wade Krieger 54:01
6.Barry Lewin 54:59
7.Hamish Lovemore (U18) 56:22
8.Thomas Lovemore (U23)57:05
9.Richard Lowe 57:12
10.Johann Terblanche 57:56
1.Michelle Burn 59:29
2.Kyeta Purchase 1:01:27
3.Nikki Russell 1:02:21
4.Christie Mackenzie (U18) 1:06:52
5.Lyn Bennett 1:10:23
1.Hamish Lovemore 56:22
2.Hamish Mackenzie (U16) 59:26
3.Brendon Delport 1:00:21
1.Christie Mackenzie 1:06:52
1.Hayley Nixon/Andy Birkett 51:05
2.Steve Woods/David Russell 52:47
3.Alex Masina/Stewart Little 52:53
4.Donna Tutton/Shaun Burgin 53:18
5.Bruce Wenke/Justin Wenke 55:03
1.Calvin Mckie/Tamryn Mckie 34:10
2.Joshua Giddings 34:44
3.Billy Harker/Tracy Harker 34:59
4.Gavin Dundas-Starr/Jade Dundas-Starr 35:21
5.Shane Maguire 36:37
6.Jasper Gaylard 36:46
7.Wally Bodin 36:58
8.Conraad Purchase 38:45
9.Keaton Riddle 39:02
10.Siobhan Sharp 39:10
1.Matthew Swemmer 44:31
2.Shayne Chipps 45:40
3.Jacqueline le Court de Billot 48:01
4.Jon Ivins 50:22
5.Charlotte Atherton 52:17