The fifth and final race of the 2017 Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back Surfski Series saw victories for Hank McGregor and Michelle Burn, bringing down the curtain on the unusually extended edition of popular annual early summer surfski series.
The series had to be extended following the cancellation of two races due to dangerous conditions. Organisers then pulled out all the stops to give the people one last crack at the iconic 8km course to the harbour wall and back to Suncoast Pirates Surf Lifesaving Club, usually raced on Friday evenings but this week moved to a Thursday evening to accommodate the end-of-year congestion in family calendars.
Repeating his victory from winner McGregor out-classed a strong field of paddlers and showed that he is not suffering from the after-effects of a tough few weeks racing overseas.
"It's great to be back at the Wall and Back series having only been able to do two races this year due to local and international commitments," Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks' McGregor mentioned.
"It was awesome to get the win last night and support a local series like the Wall and Back."
The Wall and Back series is known for dishing up some tricky conditions and Thursday night's race was no different as paddlers had their work cut out for them over the 8km course. With that said McGregor's understanding of how to deal with varying conditions gave him the edge over the rest of the field.
"Conditions were quite testing with a heavy side chop which made it tough going to the wall and coming back.
"There was very little assistance from the ocean and I would say it was more resistance than assistance!"
Rounding out the men's podium on Thursday were Brandon van der Walt in second and taking bronze was Wade Krieger.
Thursday's final race of the series saw Fenn Kayaks' Michelle Burn take race honours as well as series honours with her three results which include two wins and a second handing her the title of Wall and Back women's champion for 2017.
Siobhan Sharp came home in second place in the ladies race followed by Kaylee Smit in third.
At the conclusion of the fifth and final race, Epic Kayaks' Matt Bouman was crowned overall series winner having won one race and finished two others meaning his three best results hand him the overall title.
Following an impressive series Gene Prato finished second overall ahead of 2016 series winner Wade Krieger who finished third.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS - Race 5 Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back Surfski Series
Overall 1.Hank McGregor 30:55 2.Brandon van der Walt 32:04 3.Wade Krieger 32:24 4.Andy Birkett 32:38 5.Gene Prato 33:27 6.Tyron Maher 34:10 7.Grant Van Der Walt 34:25 8.Murray Smith 36:20 9.Hamish Lovemore 36:45 10.Steve Cohen 37:04
Doubles 1.Steve Woods/Clint Pretorirus 32:14 2.Shaun Burgin/Donna Winter 35:10 3.Rowan Matthews/James Matthews 35:28 4.Malcolm Pitt/Greg Worthington 35:41 5.Jenna Ward/Luke Nisbet 36:05
Women 1.Michelle Burn 38:16 2.Siobhan Sharp 52:08 3.Kaylee Smit 55:38