Durban – Paddlers from throughout KwaZulu-Natal and abroad painted Durban’s beachfront pink on Tuesday evening at the Lettie Paddle Surfski Challenge, race seven of the 2016 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series, as they showed their support of those currently involved in a fight against cancer and in memory of those who have lost the battle to the disease.
Temporarily moved from its traditional Friday evening slot due to this week’s FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon, the local surfski fraternity was joined by those from Cape Town, Johannesburg and elsewhere, in town for the iconic river race.
At the sharp end of the field, Hank McGregor (Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks) enjoyed one last hit out before he and FNB Dusi partner Jasper Mocké tackle their 120km assignment later this week while Fenn Kayaks’ Nicole Russell claimed her fifth race win of this year’s series.
“Conditions looked quite passive tonight so even though Dusi starts on Thursday, it was nice to get another good result at this year’s Marine Surfski Series under the belt,” explained McGregor.
“It was also great to be a part of an evening like this; I think cancer is something that everyone can relate to as they’ve been affected by it in one way or another and so it is great to be part of the Lettie Paddle efforts again,” he added.
McGregor raced home ahead of regular rival Matthew Bouman (Epic Kayaks) who in turn finished ahead of Wade Krieger (Falcon Sports Travel) while out-of-towners Dawid Mocke of Fish Hoek and Steve Woods of the Eastern Cape went head to head with Mocké (Fenn Kayaks/Mocké Paddling) narrowly claiming the better of the minor places.
For Russell, who charged home ahead of a determined Hayley Nixon (Carbonology/Pink Lady) and young Kyeta Purchase (Euro Steel/Fenn Kayaks), the win sees her now on the brink of what would be a pleasing series title should she secured the single remaining result in any of the final three races.
“Win or come last, I just love being out there on my ski!” said Russell.
“However, it is obviously always really nice to win and having won the Bay Union Surfski Series and the Wall and Back Surfski Series before, it would be really nice if I could now win my first Marine Surfski Series too!”
After Danica Bartho started the Lettie Paddle initiative in an attempt to support Nikki ‘Lettie’ Haynes and her husband Zoog during Nikki’s fight against cancer, Zoog has now continued to support others battling the disease through the Lettie Love Fund.
“When Nikki passed away we setup the Lettie Love Fund and we used the funds to purchase a vehicle and employ a driver to transport those in the rural communities such as Umlazi, Phoenix, Chatsworth, Wentworth, KwaMashu, etc. get to their radiation treatment at Nkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital,” explained Haynes.
“We first started on the 13th of August 2015 and we were over-subscribed within four days, proving just what a massive need there is for what we are doing.
“We’re currently at Albert Luthuli but there are eight state facilities around the country and an end goal for us would be to see a couple of vehicles operating out of each of those facilities, so there is a definite need to continue to grow the initiative.
“It is thanks to the support of events like Barry Lewin’s Marine Surfski Series and people like all the paddling community that are helping us achieve our goal and help others who really need it!
“I thank every paddler for their support, the consistency you see from the paddling community is just so radical, they’re such generous bunch and it is so special to belong to a community like that!” he added.
The IT Works Surfski Challenge, race eight of the 2016 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday, 26 February at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, Addington Beach. More information can be found at www.marineseries.co.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – LETTIE PADDLE SURFSKI CHALLENGE
RACE SEVEN OF THE 2016 VARSITY COLLEGE FNB MARINE SURFSKI SERIES
1.Hank McGregor 34.01
2.Matthew Bouman 34.32
3.Wade Krieger 35.07
4.Dawid Mocké 35.42
5.Steve Woods 35.42
6.Grant van der Walt 36.03
7.Luke Criticos 36.31
8.Bailey de Fondaumiere 36.32
9.Irvin Dixon 37.14
10.Jason Ekstrand 37.16
1.Nicole Russell 39.43
2.Hayley Nixon 40.36
3.Kyeta Pruchase 40.48
4.Jenna Ward 41.49
5.Savannah van Rooyen 47.08
1.Luke Criticos 36.31
2.Bailey de Fondaumiere 36.32
3.Dante Lahore (U16) 44.40
1.Kyeta Purchase 40.48
1.Zoog Haynes/Linton Hope 35.53
2.Shaun Burgin/Lee Muir 36.15
3.Shaun Dias/Kerry Segal (Mixed) 37.06
1.Shaun Dias/Kerry Segal 37.06
2.Lee Furby/Pippa McGregor 39.00
3.Yohan Keulder/Louisa van Staden 42.14
1.Andrew Neal 19.45
2.Peter Jacobs 20.04
3.Keaton Riddle 22.44
1.Jody Taylor/Matt Elliott 19.18
2.Bruce Pender-Smith/Matthew Pender-Smith 22.13
3.Graeme Johnston/Alastair 23.06
1.Nick Park-Ross 27.33
2.Shayne Chipps 28.59
3.Jon Ivins 30.17
1.Jackie de Billot 30.30
2.Danica Bartho 33.38
3.Lande Williamson 34.59