Saturday, 4 May 2013

Sean Rice and Michelle Eder Burn, new South African Surfski Champions

It was held last weekend the South African Surfski Championships, this time in the town of East London, where the warm waters of the Indic Ocean didn't show the downwind all the competitors usually love to paddle. Sean Rice, just two weeks after winning the K1 1,000 of the South African sprint trials, was the winner of the event and then he becomes South African surfski champion, something that, in his words, had been dreaming for a long time.

Good weather with weak wind made the race hard and very tactical, disputed parallel to the coast along 19 km. The virtual absence of large swells made a matter of vital importance seeking the more favorable currents. The fact of the recent floods in the area made the race even more difficult, since in the search for the good current, many of them were caused by big water rivers and dragged branches and lots of stuff that could become a serious obstacle.

After the start, marked by the absence of the Mocke brothers, who were disputing the Defis Kayak Race in the French Caribbean ($7,000 prize for the winner had something to do with it), the leading group was formed by several strong men of the scene South Africa, including Hank McGregor, Grant van der Walt, his brother Brandon, Matt Bouman, Tom Schilperoort and Sean Rice.

They were the last two who decided, halfway through the race, find a better flow offshore. Rice made a quick movement and turned about a mile offshore, while the four of Durban (McGregor, Bouman and both van der Walts), maintained their line closest to the coast. Rice finally made the right bet and found a current that made him get a payback of the distance lost over in his movement and took the lead while getting rid of Schilperoort. Rice finally got a deserved victory entering the finish line alone, while in the sprint of the chasing group McGregor claimed silver and Grant van der Walt got bronze.

In Women, also significant absence of the favorite in any surfski race, Michele Eray, which made the individual race a duel between Michelle Eder Burn and Nikki Mocke, who were together throughout the race to finish in a sprint that fell to Eder Burn side, staying Mocke with silver, while the bronze went to Nikki Russel in a tight sprint with very young Kirsten Flanagan and Kim van Gysen, who got out of the podium.The next day. 

 In the men's competition SS2, less parity contenders, so thewinners were within all bets. McGregor and van der Walt, who revalidated title, did not give any option to their rivals. In the women's doubles the race was a lot more exciting, with a new duel from start to finish among the boats of Nikki Mocke/Kim van Gysen and Michele Eder/Danica Bartho. Finally, facing the finish line Mocke and van Gysen managed to catch a good run that allowed them to cross the finish line as new South African champions.

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