Saturday, 24 June, saw South Africa’s top surfski paddlers fight it out for the FNB Durban Downwind title, as well as the South African Singles Surfski Champion crown.
Surfski paddlers from around the country gathered in Durban for an exciting 26km downwind challenge from La Mercy to Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, with the elite paddlers aiming to qualify for the South African team for the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships in Hong Kong in November.
At La Mercy, the race set off with a backline start, where huge surf made it difficult for the paddlers to get out to the start line. Nineteen paddlers, including Dusi Champ, Andy Birkett, were forced to withdraw after breaking their skis in the backline break.
Current World Surfski Series champion, Hank McGregor (Jeep Team), faced a serious challenge from Euro Steel’s Jasper Mocké as it came down to the line. McGregor opted for a straight-line course closer ashore, while Mocké and his brother Dawid, chose a deep-water line.
McGregor struggled through the surf coming in, beaching earlier than expected, and had to run to the finish line. Mocké, lining up his run, picked his way through the surf right to the finish.
Despite running to the finish along the beach, McGregor finished less than one second behind Jasper Mocké, and clinched a slot in the national team for the World Champs. Third place went to Dawid Mocké, who won a sprint race with Kenny Rice for the last podium spot.
Results – FNB Durban Downwind 2017
1. Jasper Mocké 1:29:18.54
2. Hank McGregor 1:29:19.13
3. Dawid Mocké 1:29:55.32
1. Michelle Burn 1:42:58.20
2. Hayley Nixon 1:44:05.68
3. Nikki Russell 1:45:07.59
1. Zoog Haynes/Lance Howarth 1:32:48.69
2. Donna Winter/Shaun Burgin 1:37:18.48
3. Bruce Wenke/Justin Wenke 1:42:56.54