Durban - Matt Bouman grabbed the overall line honours in the Hi-Q Challenge surfski series race, the penultimate leg of the popular FNB Surfski Series, while most of the attention was focussed on the fascinating tussle for the women's series honours.
Bouman (SMG/Epic Kayaks) ground away alone at the front to post the fastest overall time ahead of the husband-and-wife crew of multiple marathon world champ Hank McGregor and Pippa McGregor (Epic Kayaks/Euro Steel), but it was the ferocious tussle between the classy women's title pacesetters Hayley Nixon and Michelle Burn (Fenn Kayaks), both anxious to seize the high ground going into the decisive final race of the series, that dominated conversation after the race.
It was Nixon who prevailed, making the most of the benign overcast conditions that favoured flatwater speed over downwind skills, the Euro Steel/Carbonology Sport star edging Burn into second in the dying stages of what was an absorbing tussle.
"It was a tough race, made tougher by the fact that both Michelle and I are narrowing the gap on each others skills," said Nixon.
"She is really going well and getting stronger in the flatter conditions, and I am able to stay with her in the big downwind conditions. Every time I looked over my shoulder she was right there! That is exactly what we want as we prepare for the upcoming international season," she added.
"We want races to be as hard as possible, and that is what we are getting," said Nixon, who is aiming at the defence of the Surfski Series title she won last year.
"It has been a fantastic series for the women because the races have seen Michelle (Burn), Bridgitte (Hartley) and myself all winning races. I am really going to have to bring my A game next week if I want to try and win the overall series," she added.
Bouman's win was his third of the series but with Hank McGregor having already wrapped up the men's series honours, it will simply consolidate his runner-up position on the series log.
"I have been training quite hard and I wanted some feedback on how it is going," said Bouman.
"Both Wade (Krieger) and Grant (Van der Walt) are going well at the moment, so to be able to pull away from them is a good indicator.
Bouman finished more than a minute clear of Wade Krieger with Grant van der Walt completing the men's podium.
The lifesaving ironman said that he enjoyed the variety of conditions that the Friday evening series offered. "It is always different!" he said emphatically.
"It always seems to end up in the same zone. Everyone races really hard and it starts to hurt when the nitrogen starts filling your muscles.
"You just have to go to your little happy place and it all becomes a bit of a blur," he added.
With the McGregor's making the mixed doubles race their own from the outset, behind them there was a needle scrap for second between Jenna Ward and Luke Nisbet and the crew of Donna Tutton and Shaun Burgin which Ward and Nisbet won by thirty seconds.
The men's double title went to Wise Mvubu and Thando Thusi, while Hamish Lovemore continued his excellent run of form, winning the junior prizemoney with another overall top ten performance
The Varsity College Surfski Challenge and Varsity College SA Schools Champs, Race Ten of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday, 10 March at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, Addington Beach. More information can be found at www.marineseries.co.za.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – Hi-Q Challenge
RACE NINE OF THE 2017 FNB SURFSKI SERIES
1 Matt Bouman 31:51
2 Wade Krieger 33:02
3 Grant Van Der Walt 33:13
4 Gene Prato 33:32
5 Bailey De Fondaumiere 33:41
6 Barry Lewin 33:47
7 Hamish Lovemore 34:35
8 Emil Torstensson 34:40
9 Tyron Maher 34:47
10 Jordon Clauson 34:58
1 Hayley Nixon 35:58
2 Michelle Burn 36:13
3 Kyeta Purchase 38:07
1 Wise Mvubu/Thando Thusi 35:10
2 Simon Grout/Dave Harker 35:40
3 Calvin Mckie/Byron Mckie 35:53
4 Skye Prato/David Aikins 36:13
1 Hank McGregor/Pippa McGregor 31:55
2 Jenna Ward/Luke Nisbet 32:38
3 Donna Tutton/Shaun Burgin 32:58
1 Louisa Van Staaden/Wilma Deysel 39:35
1 Hamish Lovemore 34:35
2 Brendon Delport 37:36
3 Sabina Lawrie 40:13
1 Matthew Maroun 19:43
2 Zoog Haynes/Ty Haynes 19:52
3 Andrew Atkinson/Max Maunier 21:17
4 Lance Howarth/Jade Howarth 21:47
5 Dave Rees 22:18
6 Keli Reynolds/Ken Reynolds 22:43
7 Carmel Billson 22:49
8 Alan Beukes 22:56
9 Kevin Oliver 23:12
10 Mark Horner 23:33
2 Teegan Hardwick 23:34
1 Robbie De Billot 31:49
2 Brendon Germaine 33:26
3 Danica-Anne Bartho 33:29