Canoeing

SA surfski paddlers excel at Molokai

2018-05-28 11:51
Hayley Nixon (Topfoto/Gameplan Media)
Hayley Nixon (Topfoto/Gameplan Media)

Durban - South African surfski paddlers hit the headlines in Hawaii as Hayley Nixon won the women's race of the Maui Jim Molokai Challenge, and Hank McGregor and Jasper Mocké raced onto the men's podium in second and third, respectively.

Nixon (Shaw and Partner/Euro Steel/Carbonology), racing in her first ever start at the 53km crossing of the fabled Channel of Bones, broke the women's course record in the process, and said she was elated at the achievement.

Nixon, the reigning world women's surfski champion, finished two minutes ahead of the classy Kiwi Rachel Clarke, with Australian Jordan Mercer another two minutes further back

"We were blessed with the Hawaii tradewinds and they reckon these were the best conditions they have seen in five years, between 15 and 20 knots East-North East wind which is perfect for the line to mainland Honolulu.

"The women's field was the most packed it has ever been. It was quite daunting for me because I only confirmed that I was coming to the event three weeks before, so I didn't have those months of mental preparation.

"I had a lot of faith in my coach Linton and the way we trained, and I knew that I would be able to transition across to the long distances.

"The race was cut-throat from start to finish," she added.

"From quite early in the race I realised that Rachel Clark and Jordan Mercer were going quite hard. I wasn't sure that it was the best thing to do at that stage.

"I tried to be as conservative as possible. I had done some really good paddles with Oscar Chalupsky earlier in the week, and his main advice was to be as conservative as possible.

"I watched Rachel and Jordan clash it out for thirty kays, and I was pretty impressed, thinking they would keep that pace up the whole way.

"My boat skipper kept us on a really good line. He was incredible. He has done the crossing 26 times. It was sublime, because we were just riding wind and swell all the time. At some stages in the Channel of Bones the water is over 2 500 metres deep and it goes an incredible purple colour

"With about 35km gone I realised that I needed to pin my ears back to close the gap, and caught the other two girls with about 10km to go, even though we were all racing on different lines.

"I felt good and confident. I felt I knew I hadn't spent myself yet. We hit China Wall and took a very conservative line while the other two girls bombed straight down the wave at China Wall.

"I think my conservative line paid off before I was in deeper water and we had bumps and waves to ride through the last 3km. Every time I looked over my shoulder I couldn't see them.

"My husband Paul was there the whole time, almost racing with me, which makes it so special as a couple. It just feels surreal," she added.

McGregor (Fenn/Euro Steel) was locked in a fierce duel with Australian star Corey Hill, which he lost by thirty seconds, with fellow South African Jasper Mocké (Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks) taking the last spot on the podium.

Oscar Chalupsky finished ninth overall, just seven weeks after major shoulder surgery.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS - MAUI JIM MOLOKAI CHALLENGE

Men

1. Corey Hill (Aus) 3:15:09

2. Hank McGregor (RSA) 3:15:39

3. Jasper Mocké (RSA) 3:17:03

Women

1. Hayley Nixon (RSA) 3:52:02

2. Rachel Clarke (NZL) 3:53:03

3. Jordan Mercer  (AUS) 3:55:37

More information can be found at www.canoesa.org.za

Read more on:    hank mcgregor  |  canoeing
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