These images define the event for me. Barring the first year we had this race in 2006 every other year has had the most outrageous downwind conditions you could ask for in a race.
In fact, 2007 was probably the most hectic conditions that a surfski race has ever been run in. If you haven't heard of that year's race then you should search the SSI archives and read up about it; it was a real humdinger.
Iconic shot of Darryl Bartho during the 2007 Durban World Cup (Pic: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media)
The Durban Surfski World Cup always delivers a fantastic event with fantastic prize money. Actually, it was Durban that set the prize money benchmark and has ever since attempted to either maintain or continue to raise the bar as to what the perfect surfski race and experience should be. By all accounts, if you want to do a proper surfski race then Durban must certainly be very high on your to-do list.
Never short on drama
Never short of drama, year one saw a mill pond; year two saw storm seas, 30 lost surfskis and a container ship; year 3 was perfect downwind and to the wire racing and year 4 confirmed this event as spectacular ocean racing. Year 5 is already dishing up drama as it is on the same weekend as the Molokai Challenge.
Same weekend as MOLOKAI!!!!!
WHAT! Who would do such a thing??? It seems idiotic and just plain counterproductive. Molokai's status as an International Surfski event of choice needs no introduction and it seems logical that you would respect one of surfski's legendary events. Believe me, there has been a very strong reaction to the Durban date, but the reality is that there really was no other choice.
Durban would normally be in June but this year RSA has the Soccer World Cup. Beside the fact that travel and lodging in the country is going to be hectic, flying to RSA is near crippling in terms of ticket prices. Post Soccer there are clashes with other races and pre-May was way too soon. The original race date was one week after Molokai but that could not be done for various valid reasons. The only date available was the day before Molokai. The thinking behind the 15 May race date was that no-one going to Molokai would be coming to Durban anyway as the 2 events were a week apart, so to change it to 15 May would not really affect logistics of travelling paddlers. Then, it must also be remembered that this is a once off date and will not be like this again ever! For 2010, we're just going to have to roll with it. So, the question is, which one do you think you'll be doing?
This year the Dunlop Durban Surfski World Cup will be bigger and better than ever, and if these images are anything to go by (which they are) then I suggest you do your utmost to get here and experience a truly fantastic African race.
Mocke took an inside line and lost the 2009 race in the last 5km
(Michele Eray provided the captions)
Winners, Durban World Cup 2009: Clint Pretorius and Michele Eray
Lightee always makes me laugh. He is so crazy! I think he is one of the most talented paddlers we have in SA. If he spent more time on just one sport, like paddling, he would be unstoppable. But then he wouldn’t be Lightee...
I hate the start of races. The pre race nerves, the anticipation of the pain that comes with the blistering starting pace. I watched the final of the US Tennis Open a while back, and in her victory speech, Anna Kournikova said that the now retired Billy Jean King phoned her that morning and said ” Pressure is a privilege” and “Winners take risks”. I always try say that to myself on every start line.
Danica is always good when the conditions get a bit bumpy, and the wind starts blowing. She must be one of Durban’s best female downwind paddlers.
Lara Taylor (Aus)
It’s great when internationals come over to race us in our own waters. Hopefully this year, more will come. Especially the Aussies. With their strong tradition of Life Saving and Ironman/women events, I think that is where the future of the sport lies, especially in the women’s field.
The runs were really great. At the start they didn’t seem that big, but as we got deeper, they started really stacking up and the fun factor increased exponentially!
Michele Eray with the Durban skyline in the background
I got given the Black boat from Anton at Epic to use for the race. I love the look of the boat, I don’t know if it’s actually faster, but you feel so good in it, that you are bound to go faster! The Durban skyline looks awesome in the background of this shot. Durban is such a lekker place to paddle. So close to the city, then 10 minutes later you are up the coast, in the beautiful tropical paradise that is the North Coast of Natal, catching fantastic runs with the dolphins!
I remember thinking, I’ll go out hard and just see how long I can last. It worked quite well, as I only started dying with about 2-3km to go. Not my usual race tactic, but always fun to try new ideas. I really wanted to have a good race after Mauritius where I felt so flat, and had no juice and boat admin. Loved the Durban World Cup, good organisation, cracking conditions, fun after-party thrown in too. I will definitely be back to defend my title this year!
For more info on the race, go to www.surfski.co.za