A number of South Africa’s surfski stars took to international waters this past weekend with Hank McGregor and Nicole Russell racking up wins at the tough Dragon Run in Hong Kong while Jasper Mocké also clinched victory at the West Coast Downwinder in Australia.
The field in Hong Kong was laden with South African talent as McGregor managed to outsmart current South African Surfski Champion Sean Rice to claim his second title in three years at the event.
“It was quite windy for a change which meant the first seven kilometres out to Nine Pins island was really technical and very rough,” mentioned a satisfied McGregor. “Sean (Rice) managed to get a bit of a lead on me and then it was a twelve kilometre following downwind – really awesome conditions!”
The race was a two-horse shoot-out between the Euro Steel/Epic Kayak star and Think Kayak’s Rice.
Rice gain the ascendancy through the middle of the race, seeing McGregor needing a flawless downwind section to get himself back into the contest.
“Sean had about a 300 metre lead on me because he managed to get into the wind a bit ahead of me.
“I then managed to close the gap on him with about four kilometres to go before we got to another headland called Kissing Whales and from there it is a five kilometre stretch to the finish,” McGregor added.
The final push into the finish was a tough slog for all paddlers however McGregor understood that it was going to be difficult and put in a race defining surge shortly before the end saw him go to the front once more and ultimately win by 40 seconds.
“That section is really tough, into the wind and side on with small little bumps.
“We actually turned together and it was a ding-dong battle where I managed to just get away from him and pull a comfortable lead to win my second Hong Kong Dragon Run title,” he added happily.
Current K2 Marathon World Champion Adrian Boros of Hungary rounded out the podium as he finished the 24km course 14 minutes behind McGregor.
The success of the South African’s in Hong Kong did not stop with McGregor as Fenn Kayaks powerhouse Nicole Russell dominated the ladies race, in the process also beating much of the men’s field to finish an impressive sixth overall.
Russell took the win from Camille de Carmejane of France by almost seventeen minutes whilst Katerina Vichou finished in third place.
In Perth, Australia it was the turn of McGregor’s Euro Steel/Epic Kayak’s FNB Dusi partner Jasper Mocké to take on a stacked field that included current ICF Ocean Racing World Champion Cory Hill as well as Mocké’s brother, Dawid.
Mocké’s victory was a slender one as he managed to pip Australian Hill to the post by just eight seconds whilst third went to another Australian and current USA Surfski champion Michael Booth.
The win will give Mocké good confidence heading into this weekend’s renowned Perth Doctor, also in Australia.