The 2018 FNB Surfski Series kicks off this Friday evening at the Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, and it will once again showcase the best ocean racing talent that KwaZulu-Natal has to offer over the ten races that make up the series.
The popular surfski showdown that always kick-starts the years racing will see the likes of defending champion Hank McGregor, Matt Bouman, Gene Prato, Wade Krieger, Brandon van der Walt and Bailey de Fondaumiere fight it out over the 8km long course.
Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks’ McGregor has dominated the FNB Surfski Series in recent years and has been one of the stalwarts that has seen the series grow into one of the biggest mass-participation ocean racing series in the world.
“I always enjoying getting the year started with the FNB Surfski Series,” the eight-time series champion said.
“What’s nice about a surfski is that the conditions are always different and it’s a great change from the busy river marathon training that I am doing at this stage of the year.
“I love taking part and always find that it’s the best way to kick off the weekend.”
The men’s contest at the FNB Surfski Series has always been a fierce one with a number of paddlers putting their hands up for race honours throughout the ten race series. McGregor and Matt Bouman’s rivalry has been one that has evolved over the years and every year it is intriguing to see how it plays out.
“Matt is always such a tough competitor and I know that whenever I race against him I have never won until I am across the line.
“We have had some incredible battles through the years and I expect this year to be another exciting instalment.
“With that said there are so many other talented paddlers out there and I always say that this series attracts some of the best surfski paddlers in the world,” McGregor added.
The ten-race series is the cornerstone of surfski racing in KwaZulu-Natal in the early part of the year, however due to other commitments it sometimes gets difficult to take part in all ten events.
“I always try and do as many of the races as possible but with it being FNB Dusi season at the moment I cannot do some races.
“It’s important to me to make sure I have done the minimum number of singles races and then it frees me up to take part with my wife or a friend as well,” McGregor mentioned.
Series organiser Barry Lewin is the unsung hero of the FNB Surfski Series and McGregor appreciates the effort that he puts in.
“Barry is a paddler so he creates a series that is about the paddler.
“He’s still paddles competitively and that passion for the sport rubs off on him when he’s putting the series together.”
FNB Business said, “FNB Business is proud to once again be the title sponsor of the FNB Marine Surfski Series in 2018.
“This event is one of the many platforms that affords us the opportunity to engage with our clients and the broader community, creating lasting, meaningful connections through a sport that continues to grow in popularity in the Kwa-Zulu Natal region.”
The series also includes a 4km short course option as well as a category for stand-up paddle boards.
Race one, the FNB Surfski Challenge takes place on Friday, 12 January at the Marine Surf Lifesaving Club.