Surfski series action adds to global Mother’s Day celebrations


Words: Kyle Gilham | Photo: Kevin Sawyer

The action of Sunday 11 May’s Lion of Africa Surfski Challenge, race two of the 2014 Bay Union Surfski Series, took place amidst a celebratory Mother’s Day atmosphere at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club with evergreen performer Matt Bouman opening his series’ account in style with victory in the men’s race while rising under-23 star Jenna Ward made it two wins from two in the women’s division.

Paddlers greeted by overcast skies and glassy, lake-like sea conditions and, as a small thank you to all from the popular winter series, every mom attending the second event of the four-leg series received a beautiful Mother’s Day rose.

Having missed the opening event, Epic Kayaks’ Bouman showed he still has the raw power and strength to grind out a physically demanding victory as he narrowly edged out Epic Kayaks/Team Jeep’s Grant van der Walt.

“Racing was tough out there today!” said Bouman afterwards. “As always, racing against Grant (van der Walt) here is as tough as racing at any World Cup event around the world!”

“My game pIan was to try get him to have to push a little harder than he would like for as long as possible and fortunately that seemed to result in me having the better of him, just, for most of the way.

“To look to really look to assert myself would have been too much but he was always right behind me and so at no point could I back off, even slightly,” he added.

The small surf and flat seas saw race director Barry Lewin set a surf-turn layout which proved popular with all participants.

“The course was great. It really helped break the monotony of the usual around the buoys, lap racing which often just becomes marathon-like, bunch racing for much of the way,” said Bouman.

“Although there was hardly any surf to deal with, it was still great to mix things up a bit and then the final stretch which took us out to seas before turning for the finish line and having 800 metres of runs to play with, that was really cool.”

With race one winner Hank McGregor (Epic Kayaks’Team Jeep) in Hawaii for the prestigious Molokai race, van der Walt clinched his second runner-up finish of the series with Jean-Luc Mauvis showed why some are suggesting he is better form that many suspect when he claimed the bottom step of the podium.

Having fallen off Mauvis’ wave at the final surf turn, Adam Nisbet and Varsity College/Team Jeep’s Lewin then enjoyed a ding-dong battle to the final turning can and back to the finish line with Nisbet narrowly edging out Lewin for fourth place.

Fenn Kayaks’ Jenna Ward continued from where she left off in race one, the Bay Union Season Starter, last weekend when she again got the better of Nikki Russell in the women’s clash.

The doubles race saw more memorable racing unfold amongst some of the country’s leading age group paddlers as Lee McGregor and Alan Hold made up for last week’s frustrating second place finish by surging to victory ahead of Bay Union’s Gavin Searle and Linton Hope while Gustav Kriese and Neil Evans finished third.

“Gustav and Neil are really strong sprint competitors and when they took at the beginning fortunately Lee and I were able to get onto their wave down to the first can,” explained Hold.

“This meant we opened a slight gap on Gavin and Linton and once Lee smells blood then he just goes!” he chuckled.

The pair have many years of experience under their belts and have never lost a K2 flatwater marathon Masters World Championships event together, giving them a unique understanding a paddling partnership.

“We’ve raced together overseas at Masters World Champs for ten years now and the conditions out there today were very similar to those of marathon races so maybe that also went in our favour slightly as well,” said Hold.

Jordan Clauson was the first junior boys’ competitor across the line while Paul van Achterbergh and Lauren Coleby won the men’s and women’s singles and Paul and Rory McNeill the doubles in the short course event.

The unique McCarthy Toyota Umhlanga King of the Bay race, race three of the Bay Union Surfski Series, takes place at 09h00 on Sunday 18 May and offers paddlers a rare opportunity to paddle across Durban’s harbour and out the harbour mouth as they make their way from Stella Canoe Club to Marine SLC. More info can be found at

Summary of results

1.Matt Bouman 57.41
2.Grant van der Walt 57.55
3.Jean-Luc Mauvis 1:00.50
4.Adam Nisbet 1:01.16
5.Barry Lewin 1:01.21
6.Luke Nisbet 1:01.31
7.Kyle Friedenstein 1:02.24
8.Herman Chalupsky 1:03.02
9.Gene Prato 1:03.40
10.Jason Ekstrand 1:04.01

1.Jenna Ward 1:08.09
2.Nikki Russell 1:08.28
3.Julie Cornelius 1:14.44

1.Lee McGregor/Alan Hold 58.58
2.Gavin Searle/Linton Hope 1:00.44
3.Gustav Kriese/Neil Evans 1:01.38

Mixed Doubles
1.Matt Collins/Kerry Segal 1:06.24
2.Brad Nicholson/Sarah Thorpe 1:07.19
3.Trevor Vernes/Jacqui Boyd 1:07.56

Women Doubles
1.Angela Scruby/Louisa van Staden 1:15.15

Junior Boys
1.Jordan Clauson 1:06.00
2.Keagan Kok 1:06.27
3.Brett Wilken (U16) 1:07.30

Junior Girls
1.Kyeta Purchase 1:18.39

1.Paul van Achterbergh 30.42
2.Mhlengi Gwala 33.08
3.Keegan Murugan 33.22

1.Paul McNeill/Rory McNeill 31.12
2.Wayne Ashford/Luke Hutton 32.22
3.Jeanette Brunton/Andrew Gillespie (Mixed) 32.39