A strong North-Easterly brought with it some tough surf conditions which even saw series big names Bouman and Hank McGregor both experience rare swims in the opening stages of the race.
Things unfortunately didn’t get any better for McGregor as whilst he was still trying to get back on his boat another ski collided with his causing enough damage to force McGregor out of the race. Bouman meanwhile, oblivious to McGregor’s misfortune, scrambled back onto his ski and dug deep as he tried hard to catch the leaders.
"...bit of a lottery..."
“It was a bit of a lottery out there. It could have been good fun if things went your way but they didn’t go my way at first and I had to paddle hard to catch the guys,” said Bouman.
“Once I caught Mark (Mulder) and the boys I couldn’t see Hank and I became a little despondent because I wondered just how far ahead he was,” he added. “It was only once we turned for the second lap and I didn’t see Hank come past that I realised something must’ve happened to him and so I started working really hard again.”
With The Unlimited Dusi just around the corner and couple of the series’ top contenders being involved in a national sprint camp the door was left wide open for Bob Opperman to claim the victory in the ladies race and in the process became the fourth winner within five races.
“Finally!” said a very satisfied Opperman. “I’ve been paddling for five years and I’ve managed to get a couple thirds and the odd second but to finally get the win is great.”
“When I saw the North-Easter was blowing again I nearly didn’t come down. I found every excuse under the sun to give it a miss but at the last minute I headed down here and now I’m really chuffed I did,” she added.
The doubles race was action packed from start to finish with Barry Lewin and Sthembiso Mbatha going head to head with Oliver Burn and Brent Chiazzari throughout the entire race.
Neck and Neck
“It was neck and neck all the way, such a ding-dong battle. Coming in we were both on the same wave and we only just managed to finish ahead of them,” explains Lewin. “It was an epic race and such a cool course!”
Despite conditions not being difficult there was still a good turnout, much to the satisfaction of organisers and the top competitors alike.
“It’s great to see so many guys coming down. It’s a testament to the quality of paddler we have in Durban,” said Bouman. “The bigger the sport gets the better it is for everyone.”
After the evening’s racing and once prize-giving was out the way those who stuck around were treated to a performance by local group Catlike Thieves.
“With a gap in the series coming up next week and seeing how popular the series has been it was an opportunity for us to reward the paddlers a bit,” said series organizer Barry Lewin.
The sixth race of the series, the USN Surfski Challenge takes place on Friday 25 February.
More information can be found at www.marineseries.co.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS - HANSA SURFSKI CHALLENGE
FIFTH LEG OF THE VARSITY COLLEGE MARINE SURF SKI SERIES
Long Course Singles - Men
- Matt Bouman 34.15
- Mark Mulder 35.19
- Mark Holtzhausen 35.47
- Matthew Collins 37.51
- Ryan Butcher 38.06
- Wayne Thompson 38.09
- Matt Carlisle 38.49
- Dwayne Powell 38.54
- Ross Fountain 39.04
- Shaun Austin 38.07
Long Course Singles - Women
- Bob Opperman 53.40
- Jenna Ward 56.54
Long Course Doubles
- Barry Lewin/Sthembiso Mbatha 34.05
- Oliver Burn/Brent Chiazzari 34.15
- Quinton Rutherford/Bryan 37.19
Short Course Singles
- Gordon Spalding 26.20
- Dennis van der Zee 26.30
- Stuart Carter 26.54
Short Course Doubles
- Kean Nicholson/Melissa 28.22
- Sharon Armstrong/Sally 28.30
- Mark Kelly/Tamryn Kelly 29.17