DURBAN WINTER SERIES RACE 10 –DURBAN BEACH FRONT
For the past few weeks the Durban beach front has witnessed some consistent swell and consequently some really good surf. Race 10 of the series has always been on the calendar as a race with surf turns. We had classic sunny clear Durban weather, a clean flat glassy surface offshore and really juicy surf to negotiate at the two more exposed northern surf turns.
I had my fair share of being held up in the surf in the first two surf turns where there was a really tricky shore break. I saw lots of thrills and spills coming in and going out through the surf, but managed to avoid any collisions or dumping in the shore break. I broke my duck of 3 x 11th overall places during the series to finish 8th overall. A top 10 finish in any of the series races is always on my wish list together with holding off a strong challenge from the ever present other masters paddlers.
Having diverted to doing a few double ski races in the series has prevented me from posting a decent enough aggregate to win either my grade or the masters section of the series. Something I always aim at. A cheeky overall win in one of the series races in a double ski was a great compensation though.
SCOTTBURGH TO BRIGHTON MARATHON
There is always so much expectation over this classic traditional race. Every year it attracts some of the countries best. This year was no exception with World Class contenders from the Cape taking part, in Dawid and Jasper Mocke and Sean Rice from Cape Town and Richard von Wilderman from Port Elizabeth. These 4 would make all the running and were unchallenged by anybody from KZN which I felt was very disappointing.
The challenge came from the course itself. The various weather reports kept the field guessing right up until after the start. What during the week and on the beach before the start, gave the impression of a potential flat race, with a slight head wind at the end, got turned on its head with a sudden shift in swell size and direction right from the start at Scottburgh. Within a short time not long after sunrise the surf bared its teeth. An outgoing spring tide did not help either with lots of craft not getting out through the surf and plenty of damaged craft. The same at the halfway stop at Amanzimtoti, and at the finish atBrighton, where the size of surf got progressively bigger.
I commiserate with those who either got their craft damaged or could not get out through the surf. It was just not your day and it could have happened to anybody in the field of paddlers. Almost everybody has a story to tell. I salute all those that did make it to the finish, which in many cases was through their determination not to give up.
Hats off to Dawid Mocke for a great win, showing his class. Sean Rice, Jasper Mocke and Richard von Wilderman followed in that order as predicted. Each with their own share of war stories. I was delighted with last gold medal, sneaking in, in 10th place overall, having a good day on the open water paddling strongly, and my own share of both good and bad luck in the surf. Mark Mulder on our new BULLET paddled incredibly well challenging the top 5 overall, but for a swim at the end, which relegated him to 8th place overall.
Hats off also to paddlers from Abu Dhabi, Thea van der Westhuizen and doubles pair of Nico Smidt and Rebecca Mehew from Dubai, for taking part and finishing the race, in conditions that they are definitely unaccustomed to.
As I reflect over last weekends race and the entire Winter surfski series, a highlight for me was the awesome spread of participation and results on our craft. The first lady in the short course category in the series was the junior development paddler from our squad, Janierah Reddy on our HORIZON. The first junior male in the short course race 10 and first time on the podium for him, was Gareth Hazell on our demo BULLET. Mark Mulder finished second overall on a BULLET Lite in race 10, and I got into the mix on Sunday and throughout the series on a SYNERGY lite. We had wins overall, and in the masters division on the APEX 2 double ski. The BULLET made its mark in its first season. In some races 4 or 5 BULLET’s finishing in the top 10. Barry Lewin finishing third overall in the series on a BULLET Lite, in an incredibly competitive series.
There is lots to come, with the Dolphin Coast Challenge not far off at the end of August. The S.A. surfski champs in Richards Bay in September. The hard core DaReal down wind challenge also in September.
I will keep up with posts on the progress on our new single ski that will be added to our fleet in the next month.
See you on the water.