In an innovative move from event organisers; the route for the HiQ Surfski Challenge was changed to give the paddlers the best chance of testing themselves in subdued conditions and it was 2015 Series winner Hank McGregor and Nicole Russell who proved to be the quickest two over the long course at Race 9 of the 2015 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series.
Race organiser Barry Lewin made the decision to change the course and it was well received by the paddlers who have had some indifferent conditions through the series with Race 2 being cancelled due to dangerous surf.
“We had some great conditions on Friday but we needed to mix it up a bit to keep it exciting so we gave the paddlers a chance to paddle straight out at the beginning,” Lewin said. “There was a strange onshore breeze blowing but the change in course seemed to quite popular which is great.”
Although he has the series title wrapped up the battle at the front of the race was once again a frantic one with Matt Bouman doing a lot of the work on the front of the race but it was the experience and skill of Hank McGregor (Jeep Team/Epic Kayak) in calm conditions who managed to pip Bouman at the post to claim another victory.
It was a neck and neck race throughout and although the title is his McGregor’s competitive spirit kept him searching for another win and another edge over Bouman as their rivalry has become synonymous with the Marine Series.
“Matt and I had a really good showdown on Friday,” McGregor said. “The course was changed up to an out and back route which was great with an into-the-wind first leg and then some good bumps on the way back.”
Racing hard is something that McGregor will always do and with the title in his hands getting out and trying to win does not change for the decorated paddler.
“Winning the overall series is just a bonus and I really just go out there and race as hard as I can whenever I race and Friday was no exception.
“The vibe on Friday’s is brilliant and it’s always a great way to start the weekend but that doesn’t mean that competition is less tough with guys going out and trying their hardest which is great for us and great for the sport,” he added.
Nicole Russell completed her hat-trick of wins as she wrapped up another victory on Friday ahead of series leader Jenna Ward and with only four results to count for Russell she is out of the running for the overall series title which means that it is going to be difficult for anyone to catch Ward who has been consistently good throughout the series.
With three wins and a handful of second place finishes Ward sneaks into the lead over Michelle Burn with the final race of the series coming up.
The only challenge for Ward going into the final race of the season could come from Burn who has gone ahead of the impressive Kyeta Purchase, who was not at the race on Friday, however if Ward ends the race close to the top of the ladies field she will wrap up the title.
The Varsity College Surfski Challenge/Varsity College SA Schools Surfski Champs, the final race of the 2015 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday 13 March at Addington Beach.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – HiQ SURFSKI CHALLENGE
RACE NINE OF THE VARSITY COLLEGE FNB MARINE SURFSKI SERIES
1.Hank McGregor 26.38
2.Matt Bouman 26.49
3.Gene Prato 28.08
4.Grant van der Walt 28.09
5.Bailey de Fondaumiere (U18) 29.01
1.Nikki Russell 30.54
2.Jenna Ward 31.14
3.Michelle Burn 31.22
4.Pippa McGregor 35.46
5.Lauren Coleby 36.45
1.Bailey de Fondaumiere 29.01
2.Luke Criticos 29.35
3.Brett Evans 30.32
1.Adam Nisbet/Luke Nisbet 27.08
2.Wayne Wilson/Charles Heinse 27.15
3.Jason Ekstrand/Richard Lowe 27.17
1.Brett Bartho/Danica Bartho 28.50