McGregor retains surfski title
Hank McGregor (Photo: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media)
Fish Hoek - Paddling superstar Hank McGregor overcame a world class field to successfully defend his South African S1 Surfski Championships title in the Cape Town Downwind on Sunday whilst locally based Dawid Mocké followed as he retained his position at the top of the Oceanpaddler World Surfski Series standings.
With conditions being relatively unhelpful paddlers were forced to grind away at the 18km course from Miller’s Point to Fish Hoek Beach and a sprint finish always looked likely.
True to form though McGregor opted to take the race into his own hands and a bold move with six kilometres to go gave the defending champ a rare advantage in the encounter.
“I’m obviously really stoked to have been able to defend my SA title and to have won a big event like this is great,” said McGregor. “To have won the final leg of the World Series also puts me in really good stead going forward and gives me some good momentum as I look to focus on surfski a little more in 2013.”
“I got a bit of a fright early on when I got a piece of kelp stuck on my rudder heading out to the turning can and when I couldn’t shake it I really thought I was going to have to jump off my ski.”
“Fortunately it came lose as we turned by which stage I quite a long way off the pace but this probably actually helped me in the long run because it helped me focus on working my way back up to the front.”
“By the time we’d gotten back in line with the start line I was up to about third and I think we all knew from there it was going to be a really tough race,” he added.
With a light South East and not much swell to work with taking one’s opportunity and capitalizing on any window of opportunity given by one’s competitors became crucial and when McGregor (Team Best 4 Kayak Centre) made his move a kilometre before the Roman Rock Lighthouse he made sure he made it stick.
“The conditions are very different to what we’re used to in Durban. Here the runs come right up your tail so it becomes really important to make sure you take advantage of them wherever you can and fortunately Matt (Bouman) and I managed to push the pace just before the lighthouse which gave me a bit of a buffer coming into (Fish Hoek) bay,” said McGregor.
Despite having flown well off the radar in recent months Bouman showed just why he is a competitor very few are willing to write off in any major contest as the giant of a competitor held off a strong late surge by local paddler Simon van Gysen to claim the second step on the podium.
“I’ve been doing a bit of Oscar (Chalupsky)’s training recently which focuses quite a lot of longer distance so it was awesome not bombing out in the second half of the race this time,” said Bouman.
“The pace wasn't all that hot going out to the turning can with that pretty tough headwind but once we turned it was like a hand grenade went off and the shrapnel went in all directions as the guys chose all sorts of different lines.”
“Hank and I went a little deeper which seemed to work a little better for us but I didn’t really have much of a plan out there today. I was just looking to have a bit of fun and I did that so I’m very chuffed.”
“It was a good, tough race but once again though Hank just showed his class,” he added.
Having patiently waited his turn van Gysen put in a remarkably quick final quarter of the race to cruise past fellow local elite paddlers Sean Rice, Jasper Mocké and Dawid Mocké who claimed fourth to sixth respectively.
Despite having claimed sixth position in the final race of the Oceanpaddler World Series, series defending champ Dawid Mocké did enough to rid any mathematical chance his younger brother Jasper had of claiming his title although a win in the second event of his local Fish Hoek Surfski Festival would have been the cherry on the top for one of South Africa’s premier open ocean paddlers.
“I gave it my all out there today but Hank and Matt went really well and possibly with myself, Jasper, Sean and Simon having not seen them in a while we rested on our laurels a little too much but hats off to them for a great effort,” said Mocké.
“It would have been really nice to have won the title with a win here in Cape Town, especially with it being my home turf but this is now four World Series titles in a row for me so I’m definitely still happy with how things have gone for me.”
“This one is particularly nice as there were a couple more guys actually going for the title and I really hope even more will try give it a go in 2013,” he added.
The women’s race was just as fascinating as the men’s encounter as local top performer Nikki Mocké overcame Plettenberg Bay based Michéle Eray (Team Jeep) and Durban’s Michelle Burn (Team Jeep) to claim the national title.
“It definitely came as a bit of a surprise for me but it was just great to be out there and having a neck and neck battle the whole way,” said Mocké. “With Michéle’s injury and me having a nine month old baby both she and I have had a bit of time out of competitive paddling but it was great to be able to battle it out against her again.”
“I got away early but I was going a little too quickly to feel comfortable and I knew in these conditions I’d need quite a bit of energy to catch the runs so I eased off a little and then Mich and I diced it out for much of the way.”
“I took quite a shallow line, probably because was so busy focusing on catching runs than where I was going but fortunately Mich came with me and I was able to come home first which is great,” she added.
A competitive junior field was led home by the fast rising Kenny Rice who finished narrowly outside the top ten overall in thirteenth position whilst renowned surfski paddler Oscar Chalupsky had a paddle to remember en route to finishing fifteenth.
Monday sees the doubles component of the SA Surfski Champs with the men’s race another mouth-watering affair. McGregor will team with regular doubles partner Grant van der Walt (Team Best 4 Kayak Centre) and the defending champs will be closely followed by the pairings of Bouman and Len Jenkins, Dawid and Jasper Mocké and Simon van Gysen and Sean Rice.
The women’s battle is expected to be dominated by the pairing of Nikki Mocké and Michéle Eray however they will have to overcome a strong challenge from Michele Burn and Danica Barthio and the rest of the women’s field.
The SA S2 Surfski Champs takes place at 12:00 on Monday from Miller’s Point to Fish Hoek.Summary of results:
1.Hank McGregor 1:08.09
2.Matt Bouman 1:08.26
3.Simon van Gysen 1:08.32
4.Sean Rice 1:08.46
5.Jasper Mocké 1:09.33
6.Dawid Mocké 1:09.40
7.Richard von Wildemann 1:09.55
8.Barry Lewin 1:10.17
9.Brandon van der Walt 1:10.38
10.Tom Schilperoort 1:10.56
11.Daryl Bartho 1:11.05
12.Len Jenkins 1:11.13
13.Kenneth Rice 1:11.14
14.Grant van der Walt 1:11.55
15.Oscar Chalupsky 1:12.08
16.Graeme Solomon 1:12.16
17.Dominic Notten 1:12.57
18.Ivan Kruger 1:13.08
19.Steve Farrell 1:13.09
20.Adam Nisbet 13:13.29Women
1.Nikki Mocké 1:19.25
2.Michéle Eray 1:19.56
3.Michelle Burn 1:20.47
4.Kim van Gysen 1:24.27
5.Angie Mouden 1:24.38
6.Bianca Beavitt 1:25.33
7.Danica Bartho 1:26.03
8.Chloe Bunnett 1:26.15
9.Kerry Louw 1:26.45
10.Nikki Russell 1:27.20
1.Kenneth Rice 1:11.14
2.Dominic Notten 1:12.57
3.Craig Flanagan 1:14.20Junior Girls
1.Amy Hare 1:28.00
2.Kirsten Flanagan 1:29.20
3.Candice Murray 1:39.39