This annual historic surfski marathon sadly signals the end of the winter surfski season in KZN. Held every year after the Durban winter surfski series on our notorious KZN south coast, it is a test of both man and craft. This year was once again no exception. A nasty surf break at all the beaches. A very fresh head wind picked up during the race which was also going to make it very tough to complete the course without having to dig really deep and hurt plenty.
This year the major prizes were for double ski teams. This is where having a good very tough partner comes in. I cannot praise my partner Linton Hope enough. My way of dealing with a strong head wind in a race is to just heads down and tough it out as hard and fast as you can. Not a murmur from him as we chased down boat after boat in the second half of the race. A win for us in the masters category and a top 10 finish overall, (9th), rounded off a great race and a fun season for our pairing. The highlight being a second overall in the one downwind series race. Our hybrid construction APEX 2 double surfski served us well in all the various conditions we raced in.
A further highlight was the progress of the squad of young paddlers from marine SLC that I have been coaching. At the end of the Winter series, 4 of them, including 2 juniors wanted to take on the Scottburgh to Brighton Marathon. They toughed it out real hard, with the senior paring of Sthembiso Mbatha and Mkwaba Banda finishing strongly.
The young juniors Sipho Luthuli and Brendon Sharp, having an epic battle against the elements and the surf, finishing in 8hours 30minutes. A real show of character in not giving up. They left in their wake a number of paddlers that turned away at the start and did not even get on the water and a good few that withdrew during the race.
Hats off to 1) Billy Harker of the surfski series (www.surfski.co.za), for stepping up each year and doing his best to promote this race. 2) To the organisers from the KZN south coast that host the event each year and acknowledges every single paddler that finishes the course. 3) To the great performance from Bevan Mansen and his young partner Kyle Friedenstein for coming up from East London and showing the locals that it takes a bit extra to win this one. 4) The large contingent of paddlers that come down to the race from up in the freezing Gauteng and have to contend with very unfamiliar surf and wind. I never saw any of them moaning after the event. They are a very appreciable bunch of paddlers 5) To all our seconding teams that have to be up at 3am in the morning to get us to the race and follow and support us along the route. 6) To a challenge that hurts like hell for a good few days afterwards, but gives you a warm feeling of accomplishment. 7) GU Energy South Africa for sponsoring the Marine surfski squad with racing fuel and seeing potencial in the surfski future.