St. Francis – Hank McGregor threw down the gauntlet to the younger pretenders to his throne by posting an emphatic win in the China Silver Asset Management SA S1 Surfski Championships sponsored by the World Surfski League, adding the single ski title to the national double ski title he won in Durban last weekend.
The surfski race was the first of three successive event making up the P.W. Harvey & Carey Olsen St. Francis Paddle Fest, and attracted a big field eager to challenge for the national ski honours over a course changed on the day of the race to avoid the adverse weather conditions.
The gale force winds and big surf buffeting the Eastern Cape forced the race organisers to scrap the ocean leg planned for the 14km race and kept the surfskis within the St. Francis canals and on the Krom River.
McGregor broke away in a six boat pack with his doubles partner Hamish Lovemore, Capetonians Nick Notten and Kenny Rice, Brandon van der Walt and East Londoner Josh Fenn, and turned on the taps as they returned from the Krom River leg and into the canals of St Francis to bag the elusive surfski national crown double once again.
With the back-to-back national flatwater marathon titles up for grabs on Sunday and Monday, McGregor could pull off the improbable feat of winning four titles inside nine days.
Notten finished in the silver medal position, several boat lengths behind McGregor, with Rice completing the podium, finishing third ahead of the first Under 23 Lovemore.
In the womens’ race Durbanites Jenna Ward and schoolgirl Saskia Hockly broke clear at the end of the Krom River leg of the race, with Ward taking the sprint to the finish line at the small craft harbour. Olympic sprint medallist Bridgitte Hartley took the last spot on the podium.
“We started with the juniors and the first few minutes of the race were chaotic,” she said. “I got away with a few of the guys but then we were all out of our skis portaging over sandbanks.
“I ended up on my own for forty minutes before Saskia (Hockly) and Bridgitte (Hartley) caught me. Saskia and I were on the same small wave at the turn back to the canals and I knew from training with her that I had to get into the last canal ahead of her, which I managed to do,” she said.
Ward mirrored McGregor feat of winning the national surfski double after taking the S2 title at the Bay Union King of the Bay in Durban with Hockly last weekend.
Under 16 speedster Josh Simpkins won the junior title overall, edging another Under 16 paddler Jordan Fenn, with the first Under 18 paddler home Luke Swinney in third.
The event featured three paddlers taking on the windy St. Francis course on prone boards, won by Jadon Wessels, and a solitary Stand-Up-Paddleboarder in Chiara Vorster.
On Sunday the canals of St. Francis host the K1 races at the SA Marathon Championships on the second day of the P.W. Harvey & Carey Olsen St. Francis Paddle Fest.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
CHINA SILVER ASSET MANAGEMENT SA S1 Surfski Champs
sponsored by the World Surfski League
1 Hank McGregor 0:58:12.62
2 Nicholas Notten 0:58:20.40
3 Kenneth Rice 0:58:30.74
4 Hamish Lovemore 0:58:45.12
5 Brandon Van Der Walt 0:58:46.67
6 Joshua Fenn 0:58:49.11
7 Mark Keeling 0:59:39.63
8 Ulvard Hart 0:59:54.06
9 Tyron Maher 0:59:55.42
10 Bevan Manson 0:59:57.03
11 Phillip Smith 1:00:10.18
12 Jasper Mocke 1:01:29.82
13 Matthew Fenn 1:01:31.29
14 Dawid Mocke 1:01:56.04
15 Tayne Thompson 1:02:52.05
16 Ian Black 1:02:55.78
17 Daniel Jacobs 1:03:11.81
18 Connor Ed Botha 1:03:29.02
19 Shanti Stewart 1:03:39.76
20 David Hamilton-Brown Luke Symons 1:03:43.85
1 Jenna Ward 1:06:21.45
2 Saskia Hockly 1:06:22.59
3 Bridgitte Hartley 1:07:22.36
4 Chloe Bunnett 1:09:37.03
5 Melanie Van Niekerk 1:09:55.93
1 Jadon Wessels 1:51:01.28
2 Kit Beaton 1:51:08.46
3 Paige Horn 1:58:28.62
1 Chiara Vorster 2:07:49.51