Marine Surfski Series paddlers take advantage of playful conditions

Friday evening’s Thule Surfski Challenge saw Matthew Bouman and Jenna Ward clinch their second victory of the 2015 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series respectively  in contrasting styles, firming up their positions at the top of the overall series’ log.

2015R4Matt450With five time Marathon World Champ and fellow 2014 series winner Hank McGregor (Team Jeep/Epic Kayaks) in Gauteng for the SA K1 River Championships, Bouman made light work of the rest of the field despite a spirited effort from Ironman lifesaving sensation Wade Krieger.

“Conditions were just ideal!” enthused Epic Kayaks/Campbell Gym’s Bouman afterwards. “There were no issues, except for a few unlucky people getting stung by a blue bottle or two, and it was just fun all the way round.”

“Last week it was a bit of an angry ocean but this week it was friendly and playful throughout!

“I obviously would have preferred the likes of Hank (McGregor) and Grant (van der Walt) to have been here but Wade (Krieger) is going really well at the moment as he looks to make the crossover from lifesaving to surfski and he has twenty-odd years of experience in the ocean, so it certainly wasn’t easy!” he added.

Despite the absence of a couple of bigger names, Bouman still believes the series’ weekly clashes enjoy a depth of field like no other globally and that the Friday evening clashes create the perfect environment to hone one’s preparations for the upcoming bigger assignments.

“Others around the world get to make mistakes at their weekly races and they can get away with it. No us though, and that’s great!

“The quality of the field week in and week out in Durban is just unbelievable and even just one mistake can cost you a Friday evening race.

“I made the mistake of not warming up last week and it made it really tough the whole way.

“For me it’s all about using the Marine Surfski Series’ races as a testing ground to make sure I’m ready when the international racing starts,” explained Bouman.

Series coordinator and Team Jeep/Varsity College paddler Barry Lewin rounded out the men’s podium while Bailey de Fondaumiere and Luke Criticos enjoyed yet another humdinger of a battle in the junior boys’ race which saw the pair again finish inside the men’s top ten overall.

“Luke (Criticos) and Brett (Evans) actually got away from me at the beginning but I managed to catch them on the downwind leg of the second lap and then got onto the wave ahead of Luke,” explained a pleased de Fondaumiere.

“We’ve got a great battle going between us juniors at the moment and hopefully it all bodes well for the Varsity College FNB SA Schools Surfski Championships at the end of the series,” added the Glenwood High School grade 11 pupil and MacSquad Academy member who hopes the series will aid in his challenge for a spot on the South African team that heads to Hungary for the Marathon World Championships later in the year.

Junior girls star Kyeta Purchase (Fenn Kayaks) led the women’s encounter for much of the clash but a last minute error as she made her way in through the surf towards the finish line saw her thrown from her boat, opening the doorway for Fenn Kayaks’ Jenna Ward to sneak through to her second win of the series.

“It wasn’t an easy race at all and I only just managed to pip Kyeta (Purchase) to the line right at the very end,” said Ward.

“I swam right at the start and so Kyeta and Michelle (Burn) got away from me from the get go and I only finally caught them on the second lap.

“I was so tired by that stage though so I sat on Kyeta’s wave but then she got away from me again on the downwind leg until she got it sideways in the surf on her way in. It’s obviously really unfortunate for her but I guess that is all part of surfski racing,” she added.

The young talent managed to salvage second place as she narrowly crossed the line ahead of a resurgent Burn while series old-hands donna Tutton, back in Durban after some time in Johannesburg, and Lettie Paddle’s Danica Bartho (Fenn Kayaks) enjoyed a ding-dong battle for fourth and fifth place.

“Its absolutely amazing seeing so many talented girls on the water each week,” described Burn who is steadily feeling more comfortable in her ski again after taking some time off to give birth to her first child.

The pairing of Jason Ekstrand and Bryan Taylor proved to be too powerful for the rest of the doubles field as the pair posted the fastest time of the evening overall en route to the category’s victory.

The Bay Union Surfski Challenge, race five of the 2015 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday 6 February at Addington Beach. More information can be found at


1.Matt Bouman 37.26
2.Wade Krieger 38.32
3.Barry Lewin 39.26
4.Brett Bartho 39.46
5.Travis Wilson 40.29

1.Jenna Ward 44.29
2.Kyeta Purchase (U18) 44.45
3.Michelle Burn 45.35
4.Donna Tutton 47.43
5.Danica Bartho 48.05

Junior Boys
1.Bailey de Fondaumiere 41.33
2.Luke Criticos 41.52
3.Brett Evans 42.08

Junior Girls
1.Kyeta Purchase 45.37

1.Jason Ekstrand/Bryan Taylor 35.50
2.Richard Lowe/Shaun Burgin 40.20
3.Steve Evans/Dave Harker 44.12

Mixed Doubles
1.Terry Henebrey/Raquel Arcediano 49.15

1.Andrew Button 26.33
2.Charles Meyer 27.16
3.Ryan Roberts 28.19

1.Keaton Riddle/William Dowsett 27.02
2.John Springate/Tayla Gilmore (Mixed) 39.46
3.Lawrence Blackbeard/Juli-Ann Riley 53.23

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