McGregor faces stiff opposition in surfski nationals - TeamSA

McGregor faces stiff opposition in surfski nationals


The 2018 Pete Marlin Surfski Race this weekend will double up as the 2018 South African Surfski Championships with the country’s leading ocean racers taking on the East London surf over two days.

Both the singles and the doubles events will take place on the 23km distance between Orient Beach in the city and Yellow Sands to the north. The race organisers will be watching the weather very closely before confirming the precise race courses based on the prevailing wind, surf and swell.

The who’s who of ocean racing in SA will be on the start line, as paddlers converge on this iconic local ocean paddling location.

In the men’s category, defending champion Matt Bouman’s name is one of the significant absentees from the entry list, but the depth of the elite field makes it one of the strongest lineups on the global surfski scene.

Euro Steel stars Hank McGregor, Kenny Rice, Jasper Mocké, Stuart Maclaren, Andy Birkett and Nick Notten will all be present to fight it out for the national title. 

McGregor might head into the contest as the favourite, but the likes of Rice and Mocké are definitely capable of pipping McGregor and will be hoping to get themselves ahead of the multiple world marathon champion.

Birkett, who recently relocated to Nahoon Beach, has spent a bit of time learning the route as this local knowledge will help set him up as a strong podium contender.

 There will also be a strong SA contingent hoping to claim a win in local waters, with Jordy Malherbe as well as Matthew and Joshua Fenn among the East London residents with podium ambitions.

Capetonian contingent Mocké, Rice, Notten and Maclaren will all be formidable. All four have shown great form throughout 2018 and the fight for the top spot will be a tough one.

In the women’s showdown, all eyes will be on Euro Steel/Vaikobi’s Hayley Nixon. The current women’s ocean racing world champion has been unstoppable in a surfski for more than a year and will be the paddler to beat.

There will be some stiff competition from fellow Durban paddler Jenna Ward as well as local star Nikki Birkett.

Birkett has slowly been working her way back to race fitness following the birth of her first child. Also among the podium hopefuls in the women’s race is Bridgitte Hartley and Zara Wood.

In the age groups, Matthew Fenn and Uli Hart will fight it out for the U18 boys title, while East London local Wood will be the girl to beat in the U18 girls national title race.

Photo: Jasper Mocke will be in action at the SA surfski champs, by John Hishin/Gameplan Media

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