The mixed doubles crew of Luke Nisbet and Jenna Ward stole the limelight at the HiQ Surfski Challenge on Friday night, as the penultimate leg of the popular FNB Surfski Series had to be modified to suit the heavy cyclone surf conditions in Durban Bay.
Nisbet and Ward won their fourth race of the seven legs raced and in the process defended their series title and won the overall series doubles title as well.
“It feels fantastic to retain our title and to win the doubles series overall,” said an elated Ward.
“It is a wonderful way to start the year, racing on Friday evenings, and it has become an important part of my bigger training plan.
“We get involved in such competitive races with the other guys in the doubles that I race harder than I would if I was in my single,” she explained.
Ward said much credit was due to Nisbet for the manner in which the combination has clicked, and his intuitive ability in technical surf and swell conditions.
“He is amazing! He gets us onto runs that other paddlers don’t even see,” said Ward.
She added that series organiser had made a great call in restructuring the race.
“Barry (Lewin) got it spot on,” she explained. “The cyclone surf was crunching up and down the Durban beach front, but getting out at Vetch’s was fine and once we started at the backline it had flattened out as the wind was dropping.”
Series winner Matt Bouman won the key overall singles race, once again holding off the tenacious Wade Krieger for the top step of the podium, but they were thirty seconds off the fastest time of the evening posted by Nisbet and Ward in winning the double ski race.
The women’s crown went to London Olympics bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley, who raced solidly to finish eighth overall, with youngsters Amy Peckett and Cara Waud taking the spoils for the first womens’ double.
Connor Botha was the quickest of the short course paddlers, sneaking across the line on the beach ahead of Dave Rees and Wise Mvubu.
A swinging South Westerly front influenced by the Indian Ocean cyclone whipped up big surf in the southern corner of the Bay, forcing the event organisers to shift the start from Addington beach, where a heavy mid-break was crunching onto the sandbank, to below the Moyo pier.
Once behind the backline, the racing proved to be as competitive as always, as the series that boasts some of the best of the world’s surfski paddlers, got under way.
With the heavy surf breaking at The mound, a safety-first course saw the field race out to sea and then back inside The Mound to South Beach and back to the revised start venue at Vetch’s Reef.
Race Ten, the Varsity College Surfski Challenge and Varsity College SA Schools Champs, of the 2018 FNB Surfski Series takes place at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club on Friday, 16 March.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS -HiQ SURFSKI CHALLENGE
1 Matthew Bouman 29:01
2 Wade Krieger 29:30
3 Gene Prato 29:53
4 Jordon Clauson 30:54
5 Jason Graham 30:56
6 Brendon Delport 32:17
7 Michel De Rauville 32:49
8 Bridgitte Hartley 32:50
9 Lance Howarth 33:04
10 Gordon Spalding 33:07
1 Luke Nisbet/Jenna Ward 28:35
2 Brent Chiazzari/Travis Slier 28:53
3 Zoog Haynes/Matt Maroun 28:57
4 Tyron Maher/Trevor Maher 29:45
5 Trevor Verness/Skye Prato 31:49
6 Gareth Miles/Raquel Arcediano 32:03
7 Wesley Bench-Capon/Brad Alan 33:05
8 Gary Behn/Claire Behn 33:14
9 Amy Peckett / Cara Waud 36:21
10 Ken Reynolds / Dylan Botha 36:59
1 Bridgitte Hartley 32:50
2 Lyn Bennett 38:07
3 Sharon Armstrong 39:16
1 Amy Peckett / Cara Waud 36:21
1 Connor Botha 18:21
2 Dave Rees 18:39
3 Wise Mvubu 18:50
1 Siobhan Sharp 19:30
2 Tayla Gilmore 19:51
4 Lungelo Shange 20:19
5 Minenhle Ntombela 20:34
6 Kevin Oliver 20:47
7 Allice Whiteedward 20:57
8 Waldo Bekker 21:11
9 Kenny Beukes 22:11
10 Thubelihle Banda 22:26