McGregor/Birkett and Nixon/McKenzie

Monday, 20 August 2018 15:38 | Written by 
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Shore break action at the start of the Dolphin Coast Challenge Day Two...! Shore break action at the start of the Dolphin Coast Challenge Day Two...! Credits: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

Durban – With their sights firmly set on the upcoming World Marathon Champs K2 title, the crew of Hank McGregor and Andy Birkett delivered a masterclass to claim the two-day 43km Gara Dolphin Coast Challenge title on Sunday.

The Euro Steel/Fenn pair banked a tidy two minute overnight lead on the first stage from Pirates SLC in Durban to uMdloti and then more than doubled their lead on the final leg from Salt Rock to uMdloti on Sunday, earning them the KZN double ski title in the process.

McGregor/Birkett

Hank McGregor and Andy Birkett cruise home to win the 2018 Dolphin Coast Challenge

McGregor and Birkett, who are currently the number one and two ranked flatwater marathon paddlers in the world, have struck up a successful K2 combination and friendship that has taken them to the FNB Dusi crown and the SA Marathon K2 title amongst several others in recent months.

Perfect Prep for Marathon Worlds

"It was the perfect way to wrap up our preparations for the World Champs," beamed McGregor. "Racing surfski really helps to mix up the training and keep it fun, so the race suited us perfectly."

Birkett is a relative surfski novice when compared to McGregor, and revelled in the fast downwind conditions on Sunday.

"Andy was whooping and yodelling on some of the big runs, so it was really great to share that together," said McGregor.

The pair has struck up a strong bond since their Dusi triumph, and it clearly helps their performance together.

"We are really enjoying each other's company and I think it shows in our performance," said Birkett, who had to be ushered across the finish line at the end of the first stage because he was so busy laughing at McGregor getting dumped in the shore break.

Conditions

The race was held in tricky blown-out conditions on the first day and in superb following seas on the second day, with the day two start at Salt Rock proving to be a formidable obstacle, as the crunching shore break took its toll on many of the surfski crews.

Drone view of day two start

Day 2 Startline

top 2 make a break

The top two men's crews show the rest how to do it - exiting the beach on day 2

PFD DQs

The final result was moulded by the race officials as two of top four crews, Matt Bouman and Phillip Smith and the pairing of Barry Lewin and Bevan Manson, were disqualified for breaking the rules governing life jackets in surfski races on the first stage, leaving Luke Nisbet and Gene Prato solidly in second, and Masters Herman Chalupsky and Colin Simpkins in third.

Women's Race

The women's race fell impressively to the combination of the current women's surfski world champion Hayley Nixon and her young partner Christie Mackenzie, holding off a spirited charge from Nikki Birkett and Sabina Lawrie, who actually got to the final stage finish before the winners, thanks to the reversed order start of the second stage.

Nixon/Christie

All focus as Nixon and Christie negotiate the surf to win the women's race in the 2018 Dolphin Coast Challenge

Birkett/Lawrie - second women

Nicole Birkett and Sabina Lawrie chased hard, coming second in the women's race

Good Call

McGregor heaped praise on the event organisers for taking the far-sighted decision to shorten the race, to make it more accessible to average paddlers.

"It falls in line with a global trend in surfski to make races around 20 to 26 kilometres in length each day.

"We saw a good growth in the field for this year's race because it was more do-able than the old longer distances and suited the weekend warriors a lot more," he said.

Catching the Tube

Not sure who this was, but I doubt it ended well!

dolphin coast logo

Results Summary

Overall

PositionCrewDay 1Day 2Total Time
1 Andy Birkett/Hank McGregor 01:20:46.99 01:11:57.86 02:32:44.86
2 Luke Nisbet/Gene Prato 01:22:42.73 01:15:48.11 02:38:30.84
3 Herman Chalupsky/Colin Simpkins 01:28:55.54 01:20:00.62 02:48:56.16
4 Zoog Haynes/Lance Howarth 01:30:51.52 01:18:44.27 02:49:35.79
5 Quinton Rutherford/Malcolm Carey 01:30:29.53 01:23:00.63 02:53:30.16
6 Brett Hadiaris/Ross Fountain 01:34:55.61 01:19:55.82 02:54:51.43
7 Tyron Maher/Clinton Cook 01:26:21.04 01:29:20.70 02:55:41.74
8 Oliver Burn/Matt Gunning 01:36:38.82 01:22:53.34 02:59:32.16
9 Michel De Rauville/Luke Symons 01:33:42.97 01:27:26.34 03:01:09.31
10 Steve Cohen/Brad Pearse 01:39:48.74 01:28:13.07 03:08:01.81
11 Stretch Struwig/Mike Stevens 01:42:08.55 01:26:33.72 03:08:42.28
12 Greg Worthington/Justin Wenke 01:43:03.58 01:26:55.38 03:09:58.96
13 Heinrich Van Rooyen/Theo Smit 01:39:26.40 01:30:50.30 03:10:16.70
14 Shadrack Mkhize/Craig Webster 01:41:24.92 01:29:34.18 03:10:59.11
15 Billy Harker/Rex McGregor 01:42:23.40 01:29:48.29 03:12:11.69
16 Dirk Barnard/Juan Maree 01:41:58.30 01:31:26.84 03:13:25.14
17 Dave Harker/Marc Descoins 01:42:14.16 01:32:00.43 03:14:14.59
18 Anton Fouche/Linton Hope 01:41:10.81 01:33:45.64 03:14:56.45
19 Travis Wilkinson/Ross Poacher 01:44:33.50 01:31:15.17 03:15:48.68
20 Hayley Nixon/Christie Mackenzie 01:45:31.62 01:30:31.81 03:16:03.43

Women

PositionCrewDay 1Day 2Total Time
1 Hayley Nixon/Christie Mackenzie 01:45:31.62 01:30:31.81 03:16:03.43
2 Nikki Birkett/Sabina Lawrie 01:47:22.20 01:37:03.86 03:24:26.06

Single Skis

PositionCrewDay 1Day 2Total Time
1 Malcolm Pitt 01:44:18.86 01:30:55.80 03:15:14.66
2 Lee Furby 01:46:27.48 01:29:29.09 03:15:56.57
3 Guy Collyer 02:00:40.79 01:47:04.88 03:47:45.67
4 Craig Thompson 02:01:01.50 01:47:35.68 03:48:37.19
5 Vernon O'Connell 02:09:52.35 01:48:43.23 03:58:35.58
6 Ray Van Der Poll 02:05:31.72 01:53:18.55 03:58:50.27

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