Sean Rice and Angie Mouden Get 2017 Started With Wins At Canary Islands AOS

Sean Rice got his 2017 surfski season started with a win in the Canary Islands this weekend at the Atlantic Ocean Surfski race.


Rice came in with a time of 2:37.23 to earn the top spot on the day. Walter Bouz'an Sanch'ez followed in second 3.20 behind Rice and Esteban Medina Ojeda finished strong in third another 32 seconds off the pace.

World Surfski Series contender and full-time Firefighter Angie Mouden took top honors for the women with a time of 3:08.48 with 2016 Euro Challenge winner Amaia Osaba Olaberri and Sara Rafael in at 4.16 and 5.09 back respectively.

Angie Mouden

Mouden, has come off a stellar 2016, with wins at the Dutch Coast Race and the Nelo Summer Challenge, is making a strong statement that she is the top contender among elite women.

The AOS is a three stage race covering a total of 40 km. All three stages are covered on the same day.

Maiden wins for Bouman and Nixon at 2017 FNB Surfski Series


Having played runners-up in the opening two encounters of the series, Matt Bouman and Hayley Nixon shrugged off the brides maids tag to take their first wins respectively at the Daikin Surfski Challenge, Race Three of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club on Friday evening.

Despite the field being slightly depleted with paddlers opting to travel to Underberg early for the N3TC Drak Challenge starting on Saturday, SMG/Epic Kayaks' Matt Bouman was surprised by the conditions that were served up to the competitors.

"It was another really cool paddle," the experienced Bouman said. "The wind was a bit surprising as we were expecting a south-easter which would have been a bit miserable but we got a pumping south-wester which gave us nice gentle bumps all the way to North Beach."

The dice at the front of the race was between Bouman and Wade Krieger, a battle that has played out often in the surf in and around Durban.

"The race was fun as always, Wade is paddling well and for a while I didn't think that I was going to drop him.

"It's an honest, hard race every Friday with nowhere to hide and I am grateful that I was able to come out on top," added Bouman.

Having finished second in the opening two races of the series to Bridgitte Hartley, Euro Steel/Carbonology Sports' Hayley Nixon is in for a bumper weekend of racing starting with an impressive win at the FNB Surfski Series.

"I am glad that I was able to come down and do the race before leaving for the Drak Challenge tomorrow," she mentioned. "The south-wester meant that we had a few more bumps and runs to try and catch on the way to the can at North Beach.

"There was a bit of a head wind coming back which forced you to work hard."


Nixon was the first to admit that the field was not as strong as previous weeks but she knew that it was important to keep her wits about her with the likes of Michelle Burn chasing her the whole way.

"It was a bit of a depleted field with some of the girls making the trip up to Underberg early but with the likes of Michelle Burn on the start line you can never be complacent.

"I was happy that I had a great race and with this being my third week back in training things are starting to feel better and I feel a bit more connected to the boat," Nixon added.

Jason Ekstrand and Richard Lowe made it three wins from three in the doubles category on Friday while Sharon Armstrong and Jonty Dobrowsky taking the mixed doubles honours.

In the short course it was Matthew Mouron who took his third in a row with Keaton Riddle and Luke Criticos in third.

Nick Park-Ross took his third win in the SUP category with Danica Bartho taking the win in the ladies SUP race.

The Thule Surfski Challenge, Race Four of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday, 20 January at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, Addington Beach.


LONG COURSE 1.Matt Bouman 32.35 2.Wade Krieger 33.25 3.Gene Prato 34.19 4.Ian Greig 35.26 5.Lee McGregor 35.27 6.Paul Rabinowitz 36.08 7.Oliver Burn 36.18 8.Brett Hadiaris 36.54 9.Irvin Dixon 36.54 10.Gavin Seare 37.01

Women 1.Hayley Nixon 35.44 2.Michelle Burn 36.55 3.Sabina Lawrie 40.39

Doubles 1.Jason Ekstrand/Richard Lowe 32:36 2.Shaun Dias/Matthew Elliott 34.19 3.Shaun Burgin/Lee Muir 34.24 4.Neil Evans/Gustav Kriese 35.12 5.Calvin Mckie/Byron Mckie 35.23

Mixed Doubles 1.Sharon Armstrong/Jonty Dobrowsky 40.01 2.Thando Thusi/Lauren Coleby 40.33 3.Amanda Seidler/Dean Maclean 44.08

Junior Boys 1.Brendon Delport 38.56

Junior Girls 1.Sabina Lawrie

SHORT COURSE 1.Matthew Mouron 19.21 2.Keaton Riddle 19.44 3.Luke Criticos 19.48

Doubles 1.Vandile/Mhlengi Gwala 18.24 2.Scott Sowman/Ryan Engel 18.37 3.Zoog Haynes/Ty Haynes 19.41

SUP Men 1.Nick Park-Ross 25.12 2.Daryl Bartho 36.13 3.Brandon Read 26.21

Women 1.Danica Bartho 29.20 2.Shannon Clark 29.53 3.Lande Williamson 30.45




Déjà vu at Race 2 of FNB Surfski Series

Typical summer rainfall could not dampen the spirits of one of the largest fields the iconic FNB Surfski Series has seen on Friday evening, as well over 300 paddlers took on either the long course, short course or stand-up paddle boarding race with Race 1 winners Hank McGregor and Bridgitte Hartley making it two wins from two at the sharp end of the field at Race two’s Funky Pants Surfski Challenge.

McGregor, who has dominated the Marine SLC based series for a number of years, showed his class on Friday as he powered out of the blocks in flat conditions and opened up a significant advantage early in the race, and in typical McGregor fashion, he didn’t let up through the entire eight kilometres.

“I had a fantastic race in conditions that were pretty similar to last week,” the Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks ace mentioned.

“It was an incredible turn out with over 340 paddlers; I think that everyone who owns a surfski in Durban was on the beach this evening!

“The race was close for the first kilometre but I managed to break the shackles and shrug off Mattthew Bouman, Grant van der Walt, Wade Krieger and the youngster Hamish Lovemore.

Large field

In an ominous sign for the rest of the field McGregor feels that he is in great form at the moment which he attributes to factors outside of his training regime and race tactics.

“I feel that I am getting stronger and stronger every time I paddle which I think has a lot to do with my lifestyle and the frame of mind that I am in at the moment.

“With the N3TC Drak Challenge coming up next week my focus will shift to river marathon racing but I am looking forward to the challenge of racing some of the best marathon paddlers in the world,” a relaxed McGregor added.

The podium was rounded out my Matthew Bouman in second and it was Wade Krieger who managed to win the sprint finish for third with Grant van der Walt having to settle for fourth and the junior Hamish Lovemore coming home in an impressive fifth.

Lovemore’s impressive result would suggest that the Hilton College pupil will be one of the paddlers to look out for at Race 10 of the series, the Varsity College Surfski Challenge and Varsity College SA Schools Championships.

The women’s race was not quite a repeat of Race 1 although the result was the same. Olympic sprint ace Bridgitte Hartley was unstoppable in the flat conditions as she powered home to take the women’s race honours by 50 seconds over the fancied Hayley Nixon.

“I think I might have started a bit too hard and the flat conditions did make the race a bit more difficult but I enjoyed the grind,” the Euro Steel star mentioned.

“With less wind and less runs to work with it was quite a slog but luckily for me I managed to find my rhythm on the second lap which helped me maintain that lead to the end.”

In a change from the opening race of the series, Michelle Burn pipped Kyeta Purchase to the third step of the podium in a sprint finish while Kerry Segal finished the race in fifth.

The doubles race saw the duo of Jason Ekstrand and Richard Lowe getting their first win of the series after they finished second at the first race of the series. They were closely followed by the impressive mixed pair of Jenna Ward and Luke Nisbet.

Shaun Dias and Matt Collins were the third double across the line in tenth place overall.

The short course was an interesting tussle as the pair of Justin and Stefan Swart went one better than last week as they took the overall win ahead of Andrew and Sarah Button in second and Emilio and Dominic Chiccaro in third.

Matthew Maroun was once again the first single ski home however he couldn’t replicate his overall win from race one and finished the 4km course in fourth place overall.

Nick Park-Ross continued his good form winning the stand-up paddle board category for the second week in a row with Brandon Read taking second place once again, however the change came in third where Matthew Swemmer took the final podium step – bettering his fourth from race one.

The Daikin Surfski Challenge, Race Three of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday, 20 January at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, Addington Beach.


1.Hank McGregor 30:28
2.Matt Bouman 32:06
3.Wade Krieger 32:33
4.Grant van der Walt 32:33
5.Hamish Lovemore 32:36
6.Steve Woods 33:36
7.Clinton Cook 33:37
8.Gene Prato 33:41
9.Bailey de Fondaumiere 33:45
10.Tyron Maher 34:25

1.Bridgitte Hartley 35:49
2.Hayley Nixon 36:39
3.Michelle Burn 38:02
4.Kyeta Purchase 38:03
5.Kerry Segal 38:11

1.Jason Ekstrand/Richard Lowe 32:06
2.Jenna Ward/Luke Nisbet 32:31
3.Shaun Dias/Matt Collins 33:40

Mixed Doubles
1.Jenna Ward/Luke Nisbet 32:31
2.Sabina Lawrie/Callam Davis 35:59

Junior Boys
1.Hamish Lovemore 32:36
2.Hamish Mackenzie 36:52
3.Brendon Delport 37:26

Junior Girls
1.Christie Mackenzie 41:17

1.Matthew Mouran 20:26
2.Declan Bradfield 21:00
3.Jasper Gaylard 21:40
4.Carmel Bilson 21:43
5.Mhlengi Gwala 21:45

1.Justin Swart/Stefan Swart 19:21
2.Andrew Button/Sarah Button 19:33
3.Emilio Chiccaro/Dominic Chiccaro 20:14
4.Shaine Mcalister/Laura Mcalister 20:41
5.Jason Ward/Nigel Ward 21:05

1.Nick Park-Ross 25:02
2.Brandon Read 25:48
3.Matthew Swemmer 26:08
4.Shayne Chipps 26:41
5.Jon Ivins 27:21

1.Danica Bartho 27:55
2.Jackie de Billot 27:56
3.Charlotte Atherton 27:58
4.Lande Williamson 28:58
5.Karisa Grace 31:54

Early surprise as Hartley takes first win at FNB Surfski Series

With hundreds of excited paddlers lining the Addington Beach for the first race of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series on Friday, the race produced a big surprise as former Olympic bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley beat off the tough ladies competition to claim a maiden win at race one while stalwart Hank McGregor took the honours in the men’s race.

Paddlers were greeted to some tame conditions as long course, short course and stand-up paddle boarders took some time to work out the rust and Christmas pudding on Friday, however the racing at the sharp end of the field was as tough as ever with paddlers jostling for an early advantage.

Hartley and race favourite/Euro Steel teammate Hayley Nixon spent a lot of the race together, however when the paddlers turned into the wind for the final time Hartley came into her own and managed to get ahead all the way to the finish line.

Hartley, with sprint background, was able to pull ahead against the wind in the final kilometers.


“Tonight was really fun and I was really excited to race with so many other paddlers and against some strong ladies,” Hartley mentioned.

“I really didn’t know what to expect so I was fairly cautious at the start of the race but I managed to catch Hayley just before the first buoy.”

Hartley was going to have her work cut out for her against an experienced paddler like Nixon but she believed that if she turned for home with Nixon she had a chance of winning.

“I tried to interval as much as I could into the wind and we had so much fun trying to catch some runs with the wind!

“It was so much fun and I am really excited that I managed to get a win at the first race of the series,” she added.

The ladies field was rounded out by Euro Steel/Carbonology’s Hayley Nixon in second, who finished 44 seconds behind Hartley, and young Euro Steel/Fenn Kayaks’ star Kyeta Purchase, who came home in third a further two minutes behind Nixon.
Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks’ Hank McGregor managed to pick up where he left off in 2016 with another win at the FNB Surfski Challenge as he eyes an impressive eighth FNB Surfski Series title. McGregor was in a class of his own as he dominated the entire field to win the race by 38 seconds over long-time rival Matt Bouman with Wade Krieger coming home in third.

Clinton Cook and Hamish Lovemore finished second overall in the race just behind McGregor and managed to just pip the pair of Jason Ekstrand and Richard Lowe to the win.

Emanuel Zaloumis was the best placed junior when he finished tenth overall just two seconds ahead of Hamish Mackenzie with Sabine Lawrie being the best placed junior girl.

The short course was dominated by Matthew Maroun who took the overall honours over Shane Maguire in second and Jasper Gaylard in third.

The SUP category was a tough race with Nick Park-Ross taking the race one honours ahead of Brandon Read in second and Robbie de Billot in third. The ladies category was won by Charlotte Anderson ahead of Lande Williamson and Danica Bartho in second and third respectively.

The The Funky Pants Surfski Challenge, Race Two of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday, 13 January at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, Addington Beach.


1.Hank McGregor 32:46
2.Matt Bouman 33:14
3.Wade Krieger 34:20
4.Grant van der Walt 34:21
5.Bailey de Fondaumiere 35:32
6.Gene Prato 35:37
7.Lee McGregor 35:39
8.Tyron Maher 36:34
9.Oliver Burn 37:22
10.Emanuel Zaloumis 37:28

1.Brigitte Hartley 36:50
2.Hayley Nixon 37:34
3.Kyeta Purchase 39:35

1.Clinton Cook/Hamish Lovemore 32:58
2.Jason Ekstrand/Richard Lowe 33:09
3.Darly Bartho/Clinton Pretorius 34:27

Mixed Double
1.Jenna Ward/Luke Nisbet 34:41

Junior Boys
1.Emanuel Zaloumis 37:28
2.Hamish Mackenzie 37:30
3.Brendon Delport 39:56

Junior Girls
1.Sabina Lawrie 42:44
1.Matthew Maroun 20:59
2.Shane Maguire 22:17
3.Jasper Gaylard 23:00

1.Justin Swart/Stefan Swart 21:21
2.Mark Taylor/Richard Taylor 22:09
3.Jason Ward/Nigel Ward 22:12

1.Nick Park-Ross 26:26
2.Brandon Read 26:58
3.Robbie de Billot 27:42

1.Charlotte Anderson 30:19
2.Lande Williamson 30:41
3.Danica Bartho 32:26

OABI: Detroit Beach Party---Ted Burnell


Abandoned factories and homes, broken government, and crime are what most people think of when Detroit is mentioned.   But while I was there, my experience was with beautiful water, a city recovering and paddling stoke in spades.  This positive side of Detroit reaches a zenith each year at the OABI race.   OABI stands for Once Around Belle Island, a beautiful island that sits just in front of the city in the middle of the Detroit River. The locals pronounce the acronym name as “Owabi”.   

Belle Island, the site of the Detroit Grand Prix, was once a city park.  When the City of Detroit went bankrupt, the park fell into disrepair, became crime ridden and covered with trash.   Thanks to local residents efforts and the State of Michigan,  it is once again a great place to visit and paddle from.  One lap around is approximately 6 – 7 miles.

A few months ago, I was in Michigan for a work project. I let Ulli Sherer know I was going to be in the area and would like to get out and paddle with her.  Ulli is the owner of the regional Think Kayaks dealership, Great Lakes Surfski and has been a major supporter and competitor of the OABI.    Not only did Ulli and her awesome husband Myron lend me a boat to paddle, they graciously put me up for the weekend.  We paddled on Lake St. Clair in their hometown of Grosse Point and then out around Belle Island the following day.  I was blown away by how beautiful the water was and how cool the City of Detroit looked from the water.   They insisted that I come back and race the OABI, and based on the hospitality I was shown on my first trip, I readily agreed.  

The second time around I was once again hosted by the incredible Ulli and Myron Sherer and their house full of amazing animals. Staying at their house is more interesting than staying at the Detroit zoo.  They have two dogs, a gecko, two parrots, two parakeets, a tortoise named Hank, and a GIGANTIC rabbit named Bruno.   

Bruno the Alpha Bunny


The day before the race we pre-ran the course while taking careful mental notes on the best lines.  The winds were high and the channel side of the island was quite rough.  This helped cement my decision to forego paddling the Uno Max Ultimate for the race, opting for an Evo II Ultimate instead.  I was being truly spoiled by Ulli and Myron in the selection of boats that I could borrow.   That evening we made our way to the packet pickup and pre-race party at a local bar.  This was a great chance to meet race organizers and racers and get a sense about the excitement of this race.   

Theo and Ulli on Belle Island

Race day commenced with thunderstorms threatening to delay the race start.  The race organizers shrewdly pushed the crowd to get on the water early and start before storms could delay our race.  Unfortunately, the push to get going quickly resulted in the start gun going off for the ski/kayak wave before the starting line buoy was set out.   Which in turn necessitated a few extra minutes of racing my way through paddleboards as I chased after my departing race heat.  In the end, this late start wasn’t a factor for me in finisher ranking, but I hope it’s a detail they get straightened out next year.  After charging upstream through the race field I finally caught up with the front pack.  This pack consisted of Michael Meredith on a ski, John Beausang on OC-1, an OC-2 team and a sea kayaker punching WAY above his weight class.  I caught this group just as it was rounding the upstream end of the island.  The overall leader, Rob Hartman from Holland MI was so far ahead of the pack that I never did see him.  The guy is seriously fast, and he never had even the slightest challenge.  I’m hoping we see him at some of our bigger southern races next year.  

Eventually, I worked my way into second place with about 4 miles left.  We were now on the rough side of the island, and I was enjoying the rough water capabilities of the Evo II when I spotted a weed bed seconds too late and then the subsequent enormous drag nearly slowing me to a stop.   I tried in vain to shake that weed anchor to no avail, and had to dismount and clear the snag.  After clearing a weed ball that looked like Sigmund the Sea Monster off my rudder, I remounted to find I had been caught by Michael Meredith on his Uno Max Ultimate and sea kayaker still charging ahead. As I sought to recover from my remount, a white squall hit us with fierce winds, stinging rain, and near-zero visibility. I knew these severe conditions would give me an edge in the Evo II so I pulled hard trying to regain a lead on Michael.   The squall let up and he was still extremely close, but ‘luckily’ another squall hit.  This squall was accompanied by some giant freighter swells that were, unfortunately, heading in the wrong direction to surf.   At this point in the race, I felt Poseidon himself was trying to sweep us from the water.   I could barely see the end of my boat, and it felt like my eyeballs were getting snapped with a rubber band.   But alas, the squall ended and I had come through it with a decent lead over Michael.  I was mightily impressed though that he kept the Uno Max upright in those conditions.    I own that same boat and am sure I would have swum in that situation.


Michael Merideth

Soon I rounded the bottom of Belle Island and headed upstream.  The sun came out and with the wind now absent, it was a hot flatwater slog to the finish.  As I glided into the beach I attempted to gracefully jump out of the ski to sprint across to the finish line.  This, of course, is not how it went.  My attempt to run almost planted me facedown into the sand because one leg had frozen in deep sleep.  I made a humiliated leg dragging hobble across the line.  This was a repeat of the same scene when I raced OC-1 earlier this year at the Carolina Cup.   But I didn’t care.  I just finished the OABI, the funkiest, hippest, race you’ll ever do.  

Merideth, Hartman and Burnell

The OABI as a race isn’t perfect.  The course direction around the island doesn’t take advantage of predominant or race day wind direction, the race start was a bit of a cluster, and supposedly it’s had its organizational challenges in the past.  But that’s what makes this race great.  It’s just like Detroit itself.  It still has a couple of rough spots, but awesome in a completely unique way.   The race, like the city, is growing and improving.

And that’s the thing about the OABI.  How you perform, or actual race situations are not the story here.  This event is more than that.   Part of what makes this race really special is the oddly well-blended cultures of surf vibe with blue-collar grittiness.  An example is that despite the ferocious wind and rain squalls, every single person finished the course.  That won’t happen anywhere else. Detroit’s iconic symbol is a gigantic fist sculpture and it perfectly sums up the resiliency and toughness of the folks still here.   It’s the fact that this event starts with a pre-pre-party, then a packet pickup pre-party, than pre-race activities, and is followed by a concert, SUP polo and all sorts of other shenanigans.  Also, the race itself is on water so blue, clear and inviting that you have to look up at the iconic Detroit skyline to remind yourself that you’re not in the Caribbean.  

If beautiful water, unique paddling culture,  a stunning city skyline and being part of a great American revival appeals to you, make your way to the OABI next summer.  But if you encounter challenges during the race, just tough it out.  It’s the Detroit way!

Joe Louis Tribute




The Doctor’s Diagnosis: You’ve got heat stroke---Austin Kieffer

On the Rivet

The Doctor is one of the few urfski races in the world that offers a true ocean crossing and there is something uniquely adventurous about an ocean crossing. Perhaps it stems from the knowledge that, at half way, you are further from shore than any sane person should be. Or perhaps it’s the wild quality of the ocean so far from shore. Regardless, the Doctor is one of the few races of its kind and as a result draws a tremendous field of talent and depth. The 27km crossing starts at Rottnest Island, blasts out a kilometer to a hotspot, turns left towards the Australian coast for 20km, and finally hooks another left around a central channel marker for a furious 6km finish to Sorento Beach. Named after the winds that blow consistently in Perth, Australia at that time of year, the Doctor is a must do for anyone with their eye on global surfski.

As you go through the pre-race preparation for the Doctor, it becomes quite obvious why crossings are traditionally logistical nightmares. For this race, competitors must load their boats with hundreds of others on privately chartered barges the day before the race. These barges leave early Saturday morning, while racers themselves take the public ferry to the destination island. Once there, the barges are unloaded and everyone finds their ski (in a sea of white surfskis [predominantly consisting of only two brands] it’s not as easy as it sounds). And finally, racers settle in and try to avoid the sun as race organizers wait for the afternoon wind to build.
This year, however, we were waiting for a Doctor that refused to work on weekends. With a high of 100 degrees, race day saw the lightest wind of the surrounding three weeks. The 2016 Doctor was a hot and brutal grind, pure and simple. Conditions were so brutal that many athletes received medical attention following the race (including the reigning world champ, who still managed a fantastic second place finish).
The Race Begins

The pace off the line was as hot as the weather. Hank and Olympian Kenny Wallace were off like rockets, pushing the pace to the hot spot (turning the marker first and second respectively). Further back, I rounded the hotspot to see the 20+ km of hot, lumpy ocean stretching out before me. I was already burning up. I knew I had to conserve in this first half if I had any hope of lasting the entire course. I backed off my pace and mournfully watched the leaders crawl away into the shimmering heat. I put all my focus on paddling as efficiently and smoothly as possible. Mercifully, the Fenn S made it easy and I was able to milk every minute bump and ripple that came my way. Finally, after an hour of what felt like an eternity (and the loss of most of my body weight in liquid), I miraculously started feeling better. Maybe my body adjusted somehow, maybe it found some semblance of homeostasis in the brutal heat, but whatever it was, I could feel that I had a little more gas to give. It was time to see if my strategy of conserving would actually work. Around that same time, a small breeze began to build (nothing substantial mind you, but the 5-10 knots were just enough to kick up small waves). Just ahead of me, Big Wave Macca seemed to be experiencing the same phenomena as he picked up the pace.  Determined to try and catch him, we put our heads down and started gain ground. I never managed to pass him, but we seemed to keep the exact same separation as we hunted racers down. It wasn’t any less brutal or hot, but there is something magical about passing people in the later stages of a race and it seemed to be giving us both a little extra charge. In the end, we were able to claw our way back from the mid-teens to an amazing 6thand 7th finish, just 7 seconds apart! That being said, I did have to lie down in the shade for about 15 minutes after the race to gather myself. 
My hat goes off to everyone who competed in the brutal conditions and the resilience of the top finishers who went out hard from the first stroke, inspires the heck out of me (well it does every time I am fortunate enough to race with them, but especially today).

Men's Field:
1)   Hank McGregor
2)   Cory Hill
3)   Mark Anderson
4)   Dawid Mocke
5)   Jasper Mocke
6)   Macca Hynard
7)   Austin Kieffer
8)   Kenny Rice
9)   Kenny Wallace
10) Brendan Rice

Women’s Field:
1)   Hayley Nixon
2)   Teneal Hatton
3)   Niccole Russell
4)   Tegan Fraser
5)   Wendy Reyntjes
6)   Rachel Clarke
7) Jamie Roberts   

Barry Lewin to defend title at 2016 Winkle-Toti-Winkle Sea and Sand Marathon

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.