Adventure Sport

Young guns ready for Champs

2011-06-21 22:59
Sthembiso Mbatha (File)
Durban - With surfski stars from around the country descending on Durban for the weekend Dunlop Surfski World Cup, the race will be a defining moment in the lives of a group of local development athletes who have rocketed through the ranks and are ready to take on this major international event.

After spending the past year learning and evolving as paddlers under the watchful eye of lifesaving legend Mark Lewin and his son Barry Lewin, these keen and dedicated youngsters are now focused on taking on 'the big one’.

"I've done a couple World Cups already and I did well as a junior but now I'm with the seniors and that will be a whole new ball game," said one of the programmes most exciting prospects Sthembiso Mbatha.

"I've been working very hard recently so hopefully all the cycling and paddling training I’ve been doing will pay off on the day," he added.

Having paddled the majority of the Varsity College Marine Surfski Series in the back of a double behind his coach and paddling role model Barry Lewin, Mbatha will look to draw on all the knowledge and experience he has gained over the past few years when he tackles the challenging downwind conditions predicted for the race.

"Barry and Mark Lewin have worked so hard with us and we’re so grateful for all that they have done for us and one way we can show them this is to do our best at the World Cup," said Mbatha.

"I really want to do well for them and for myself," he added. "I'm really excited for the race."

Fellow paddler and member of the programme Thando Thusi is another of the thirteen youngsters whose recent interest in the sport and commitment to the programme could see him making his World Cup debut this year.

"We've all been working really hard and I've absolutely loved the opportunity we’ve been given to grow and learn all about surfski paddling," said Thusi.

"My first surfski race ever was the first race of the Discovery Sunglass Hut Surfski Series in the Durban bay, so the twenty six kilometre open ocean World Cup is a very different thing," he added. "But if the opportunity comes then I will definitely give it my all!"

Team manager and mentor to many of the programmes young paddlers Mark Lewin has carefully monitored the progress of his rapidly developing team and looks forward to seeing some them crossing the finish line this Sunday.

"A lot of time and effort of a couple of individuals has been invested in these guys and so to see some of them take part in such a big race really would been fantastic," said Lewin.

"We've monitored each paddler's progress throughout Billy Harker's series and from this we will see who we feel would cope with the race or who should maybe wait a little longer. We’re obviously not going to just throw all of them out there on their own in their first race of this nature."

"Some of the guys have paddled that sort of distance with other very competent paddlers before and have now grown into experienced paddlers themselves so we may even look to put a more experienced guy with one of the less experienced youngsters in a K2 so they aren’t alone out there," he added.

The Surfski World Cup takes place on Sunday 26 June from Marine SLC at Addington beach.


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