Renowned South African paddler, Barry Lewin, will be returning to Winklespruit Beach on Friday, 16 December to compete in the 2016 Winkle-Toti-Winkle Sea and Sand Marathon.
Last year Lewin, of Varsity College/Jeep Team SA, took the top position in the singles surfski race in a time of 54:17.47 and is looking to beat that time this year.
“I really love this trademark race which is just every paddlers’ dream,” said Lewin. “This section of the South Coast between Winklespruit and Toti Beach has great surf and the hospitality is always amazing.”
Lewin said that, because organisers adapt the race depending on conditions, it always makes for great paddling.
“They change the course according to wind conditions and last year went from Winklespruit to Widenham Beach, downwind, which was ideal. I’m really looking forward to this year’s contest.”
Now in its 44th year, the much-anticipated fundraising event is organised by the Winklespruit Surf Lifesaving Club and sanctioned by both the South African Canoe Union and South African Road Runners’ Association. There are three events including the 12.6km surfski race and the 12.6km beach run, which both start and end at Winklespruit Beach after a journey to Toti Beach. There is also a 4.8km short course beach run and walk goes until Warnadoone Rocks before returning to Winklespruit Beach.
“This is the club’s biggest annual fundraiser,” explained Gary Barber, chairman of the Winklespruit Surf Lifesaving Club. “It’s a very popular event with both locals as well as paddlers and runners from around the province which is great for raising the image of lifesaving. All the funds raised go towards costs related to getting the members to champs which will be in Port Elizabeth for the Nippers and Cape Town for the juniors and seniors.”
Barber said the event also gives the community a chance to go ‘behind the walls’ of the Winkle Lifesaving Clubhouse, often attracting new members.
Categories for the 12.6km run include juniors (18 years and under), seniors (under 40 years) and veterans (40 and over) for in both male and female divisions. For the short course, there will also be a Nippers’ category. Surfski competitors will be able to compete in junior, senior and veteran categories in either the single or doubles’ division.
The beach run and walk is open to everyone while entry to the surfski event is limited to lifesaving members as well as those of the South African Canoe Union because of the risks involved.
“Over the years the format has changed from a ‘beach festival’ to a more streamlined ‘sea and sand marathon’ focusing on the two primary activities; surfski and running,” explained Monique Botha, chairman of Sapphire Coast Tourism. “As the event is held in the middle of the high tourism season it is a perfect opportunity to market our spectacular beaches to the visiting public.”
Ensuring public safety throughout, there will be qualified lifesavers every 2kms for the beach run and walk as well as a support vehicle and paramedics on hand. Two rescue boats will be dispatched for the surfski race with professional lifeguards at Toti Main Beach on standby to assist if necessary. There is also a third rescue boat available depending on weather conditions.
All entries will be taken on the day at Winkelspruit Surf Lifesaving Club from 7.30am at a cost of R100 for the long course and R60 for the short course, with every entrant receiving a free hamburger on the day. Participants are encouraged to be at Winklespruit Beach in time for the 9am start with prizegiving taking place at the clubhouse after final event completion at about 11.45am.