Frustrated paddlers eager for start of summer surfski series

With the easing of lockdown restrictions surfski paddlers are eagerly looking forward to the start of the popular annual Friday night Marine Surfski Series that gets under way this Friday, with a range of special plans in place to ensure the paddlers are fully Covid-19 compliant.

The series that was started by Marine Surf Lifesaving Club in 1992 is recognised as the world’s longest running unbroken surfski series, and offers elite and recreational surfski paddlers a chance to enjoy a short or long course race in the Durban bay on a Friday evening to kick-start their weekend.

Series organiser Trevor Martin has confirmed that, in collaboration with Canoeing South Africa (CSA) and the KZN Canoe Union, the series had the green light to go ahead, following a month long freezing of major canoeing events while the country negotiated its way through the second wave of Covid-19 infections.

“CSA has been fantastic in paving the way for the 29th edition of the Series to happen, and from the chatter we are hearing, the paddling community, which has been frustrated by not being able to access the beaches, dams and rivers during this last lockdown, is itching to take part in an event as popular and well established as the Friday night Marine Surfski Series,” he said.

“We are confident that every single paddler will be responsible and adhere to the unusual protocols that are in place for the series this year, to ensure that it is safe and fully compliant,” he added.

Martin said that only online entries would be accepted for the races, and there would be no registration or prize giving that would compromise social distancing.

“The race briefing will all be done by video and distributed across the series social media channels and WhatsApp groups,” he said.

“Every paddler will be expected to arrive wearing a mask or a buff and only remove these when they get onto the water. There will be no mass beach start, but instead paddlers will set off in their own time to be ready for a deep water start behind the backline at every race.

“Similarly, when they finish they are expected to put their mask or buff back on and pack their kit away and head home rather than gather in groups after the paddle,” he said.

In a week that has seen more sporting set-backs, with the cancellation of the Comrades Marathon amongst them, Martin said that he is sure the surfski community would support the series races in a responsible manner.

“Everything about this lockdown is different, and paddlers understand that there will be some big differences to the way the series happens this year. But the big thing is that the series is actually happening.

“As Hank McGregor said this week, it only takes a few selfish, non-compliant individuals to jeopardise the ability for canoeing to stage events like this.

“Friday night will see a big field, and hopefully will set a good example of how to continue events in a safe and responsible manner,” he added.

Updated: February 11, 2021 — 1:23 pm
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