Consecutive Bay Union Surfski Series victories for McGregor and Burn

Words: Bay Union Surfski Series | Photos: Anthony Grote

Durban’s surfski paddling community were greeted with picture perfect conditions for Sunday’s Bay Union Surf challenge, race two of the Bay Union Surfski Series, as Mother Nature served up a warm and sunny winter’s morning on KZN’s east coast.

Race two victors Hank McGregor and Michelle Burn once again continued their dominance as they worked hard in the flat ocean conditions to break free from their nearest rivals and claim their second victories in the three-leg series.


For McGregor, like many of the other top competitors in the field, the race served as a final arm stretch before he hops onto a plane to Portugal where he will be seeking victory in the first ever ICF Surfski World Championships in Porto next weekend.


“Today’s race was just some really good final training before we leave for Portugal tomorrow,” said McGregor. “We were obviously hoping for one or two more surf turns but, being my last paddle in South Africa before we leave, it was still nice to get out there and get the win.”


“There wasn’t too much assistance out there so you had to work quite hard but I managed to open up a bit of a gap early on and I felt good. I’m feeling really strong at the moment so hopefully now I can keep up the good form for the next week and things can go well for me in Portugal.


“That’s two wins in a row in the series for me so it’s obviously pretty good for my title chances and I’m hoping to try get a third win in the final race,” he added.


Regular doubles partner and close friend Grant van der Walt (Team Jeep/Varsity College) edged out his younger brother Brandon (Team Jeep/Varsity College) to claim second place, with race organiser Barry Lewin and surfski stalwart Herman Chalupsky finishing fourth and fifth respectively.


“Brandon, Hank and I got through the surf together and Hank then got away from us on the first downwind leg and there was no really catching him after that,” said Grant van der Walt.


“Brandon then also got a bit of a gap on me but I managed to relax a little and find a rhythm which meant I was able to catch him. Brandon went quite close to the shore and I stayed a bit deeper as we turned back towards the finish line and that gave me a 50 meter lead coming in to the beach.


“It was great to get on the water and push it a little. It was good to give the body one last spike before we leave for Portugal tomorrow,” he added.


Burn claimed victory in the women’s race over Natalie Beuster and Nikki Russell, a good confidence booster for the South Coast competitor as she too looks forward to challenging for the World Champs title in a few days’ time.


“It was really nice to get one last race in before Worlds and especially to get a good result under the belt before we leave,” said Burn.


“The surf was quite heavy but there wasn’t too much help out there after that. You had to work really hard to catch the couple of bumps that there were but if you did manage to get onto one or two it really helped you get ahead of the others.


“Once I got ahead I’d benchmarked the guys who are usually around me and a similar strength to me so then I started trying to use them to push myself.


“I’ll definitely be at the third race. It’s been a really cool series and it would be nice to try win the series title as well,” she added.


The doubles race was claimed by father/son combination Wayne and Tristan Wilson, who were closely followed home by Gavin Searle and Linton Hope in second and Irvin Dixon and Byron McKie in third.


In the short course Mark Mulder enjoyed a return to the sport after a break from paddling to prepare for the Comrades Marathon, whilst the short course doubles win went to Bailey de Fondaumeire and Kenton Riddle.


The third and final race of the series, the Bay Union Reef Challenge, sees things move slightly further South to Durban Under water Club (DUC) on Sunday 11 August with racing getting underway at 08h00. More info can be found at