Five time Marathon World Champ Hank McGregor wasn’t running the risk of sharing the Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series title for a second year running as he made it his own in 2015 through victory in Friday evening’s IT Works Surfski Challenge, race eight of the ten-leg competition.
McGregor and Epic Kayaks’ Matt Bouman were co-winners in 2014 however the Jeep Team/Epic Kayak’s flyer’s eighth round victory is his fifth of this year’s series, handing him an unassailable lead aloft the men’s overall log.
“I got the news once I got off the water and I’m stoked to have won the title again!” said McGregor.
“It’s always nice to be racing neck and neck with Matthew (Bouman), he’s a top class athlete and deserved last year’s title just as much as I did but it was nice for me to be able to come back this year and get the win.”
Despite wrapping up the title with two races still to go, McGregor confirmed he will still be on the start line in both the HiQ Surfski Challenge and Varsity College Surfski Challenge in the coming weeks.
“You’re only as good as your last race so I’ll definitely still be out there, giving it my all in the coming weeks.
“Besides, what else is there to do on Friday evening? Coming down and racing against friends is such a fantastic way to start the weekend!”
After a couple of challenging weeks, Mother Nature served up flat, novice-friendly conditions for participants which led to tight, tactical racing throughout.
Bouman finished just half a minute behind McGregor to secure his second place spot on the series’ log while Wade Krieger notched up yet another race podium.
Under-18 talent Bailey de Fondaumiere continued his remarkable run of form as he left his regular junior boys rivals in his wake and instead looked to rub shoulders with some of the region’s top senior surfski competitors.
De Fondaumiere enjoyed a sprint finish with Jeep Team/Varsity College’s Barry Lewin and in the end youth prevailed as the youngster edged out Lewin for fourth place overall.
The Glenwood High School star’s efforts have attracted the attention of many, including McGregor’s, with many looking forward to seeing how he fares at the 2015 Varsity College South African Schools Surfski Championships in two weeks’ time.
“Bailey has come on as a paddler so much of late. He’s been working hard with my dad (Lee McGregor) at the MacSquad Academy and it’s been great to see him doing so well and Luke (Criticos) pushing him all the way as well,” said McGregor.
“It’s great to see the youngsters coming through and starting to look up to the seniors and believing that they can start mixing it up with us at the front!”
De Fondaumiere hasn’t been the only junior grabbing headlines throughout this year’s series though as young Kyeta Purchase has been in sublime form of her own in the women’s category.
The young star claimed her first senior race victory in the third leg of the series as well as three second places while Friday evening’s clash handed her first bottom step of the podium finish of the series.
It was a clean sweep of the top four for Fenn Kayaks as race seven winner Nikki Russell (Fenn Kayaks) made it two wins from two before Jenna Ward narrowly edged out Purchase and Michelle Burn.
The doubles category was another hotly contested affair as a three-way sprint up the beach between Wayne Wilson and Charles Heinse, Jason Ekstrand and Richard Lowe as well as Wilson twins Travis and Tyler eventually saw Wilson and Heinse emerge victorious.
The HiQ Surfski Challenge, race nine of the 2015 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday 6 March at Addington Beach.