Adventure Sport

McGregor in cruise control

2012-06-03 20:07
Hank McGregor (Photo: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media)
Winklespruit - Hank McGregor revelled in the substantial swell and following winds as he romped to victory in the Discovery Winkle race, in a dramatic race in which he twice bumped into sharks on the 23km paddle from Scottburgh to Winklespruit.

McGregor won comfortably by a minute from a resurgent Barry Lewin and Matt Bouman and rated the outing as the "race of the year", as he was able to link together long runs in the classic downwind conditions set up by the arrival of the frontal weather system on Saturday night that left 25 knot winds a 2,5m swells in its wake.

"That is what surfski paddling is all about," said McGregor. "The conditions were absolutely classic. Even though I didn't go that far out there were some fantastic runs out there."

The burly Team Best 4 Kayak Centre star first bumped into a shark early on in the race, and then hit a second shark a sharp blow with his paddle.

"It came up right next to me and I accidentally hit it pretty hard on its dorsal fin," said McGregor. "I was seriously hoping it wasn't cross and wanted to have a go at me. I had images of those pictures of sharks breaching out of the water going around in my head after that!"

McGregor was peerless on the day, despite coming off the back of a 40km training paddle the previous day as part of his programme to clock major mileage before the defence of his title in the 220km Berg river canoe marathon in July.

Newly married Michelle Eder, now Michelle Burn, won the women's race despite her lack of fitness due to a busy schedule around her wedding.

"I started to get really tired out there," she said. "At one stage I started taking strain and looked at my GPS to realise that I was only halfway! Luckily I was able to catch runs all the way to conserve energy."

She survived a scare when she drifted too far inshore and was almost caught by the backline at a rocky point in the latter stage of the race.

"It was close but the upside was being able to catch this amazing long wave just the other side of the point."

Tenacious competitor Danica Vorster was second with Nikki Russell third.

The double ski race was won once by the plucky young lifesavers Luke Chalupsky and Shaun Dias, finishing second overall.

The testing downwind conditions forced the organisers to limit the field to experienced offshore surfski paddlers. Even then many of them fell victim to the tough backline at the finish at Winklespruit, keeping the spirited Winklespruit SLC lifeguards very busy rescuing paddlers separated from their craft in the backline.

Race six of the Discovery Best 4 Surfski Series, the CMH Toyota Pirates Umhlanga Pirates surfski race, takes place at on Sunday 10 June with racing getting underway at 09:00.





1.Hank McGregor 1:23.47
2.Barry Lewin 1:24.56
3.Matt Bouman 1:25.56
4.Adam Nisbet 1:28.17
5.Len Jenkins 1:29.05
6.Ollie Burn 1:33.40
7.Quinton Rutherfoord 1:35.31
8.Shaun Austin 1:36.15
9.Richard Philps 1:38.23
10.Gene Prato (U18) 1:38.44


1.Michelle Burn 1:46.24
2.Danica Vorster 1:49.11
3.Nikki Russell 1:54.18


1.Luke Chalupsky/Shaun Dias 1:24.11
2.Marl Lewin/Linton Hope 1:29.58
3.Brett Hadiaris/Brent Chiazzari 1:31.37

Read more on:    hank mcgregor

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