Rivière Noire - Hot on the heels of his victory in the Maui Jim Molokai Challenge in Hawaii, Durbanite Hank McGregor underscored his form and ocean riding skills by winning the Mauritius Ocean Classic in daunting, demanding downwind conditions over the weekend.
The event, which forms the first leg of the International Canoe Federation’s new World Cup circuit attracted a very strong field, and was contested in strong 25-knot downwind conditions that allowed the confident surfski exponents to exploit the favourable runs over the majority of the 26 kilometre race course.
"Conditions were pretty wild out there, it was super cool! There were some wide-eyed paddlers," said an elated McGregor.
According to SASCOC, McGregor said that the title race had been very close as he was constantly under pressure from Australian teammates Cory Hill and Michael Booth, with Jasper Mocké and Barry Lewin always in the mix.
McGregor made his move in the tough closing two kilometres where the race enters the notorious Le Morne Pass and into a tough headwind slog to the finish.
"I managed to get a lead going into the point, and managed to keep it at about three hundred metres all the way to the finish.
I’m really happy to win a fourth Mauritius Ocean Classic." he added.
McGregor retained his title to win for a fourth time at the Indian Ocean island paradise with Hill and Booth ensuring a carbon-copy of the podium at last year’s race.
The women’s title was won by Australian Wendy Reyntjes, shading South Africans Michelle Burn, the defending champion, and Hayley Nixon finishing third.
Nikki Russell fell foul of the race rules in the closing stages, and despite reaching the finish line in second place, her line into the finish that meant she cut across the reef saw her withdrawn by the race officials.
The second leg takes place at the Summer Challenge in Portugal next weekend while the third leg takes place in Tahiti in September.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS - Mauritius Ocean Classic:
1 Hank McGregor (SA) 1hr 08min 46sec
2 Cory Hill (Aus) 1:09:43
3 Michael Booth (Aus) 1:10:18
4 Jasper Mocke (SA) 1:11:30
5 Barry Lewin (SA) 1:11:57
1 Wendy Reyntjes (Aus) 1:19:41
2 Michelle Burn (SA) 1:20:02
3 Hayley Nixon (SA) 1:22:19