Durban - Hank McGregor and Hayley Nixon tasted success at this year's Bay Union Open Ocean Surfski Challenge when they won the men's and women's title at the 12km Citadel Race at Vetch's Beach on Sunday, opening their accounts at the popular four-race winter series.
With Durban being buffeted by an icy cold front, the race was shifted to a lap from Vetch's Beach to a turn-can off the uMngeni River Mouth and back instead of the standard course that takes the paddlers offshore in front of the Bluff.
McGregor mastered the big windswept conditions superbly and cantered home more than a minute clear of Gene Prato, Luke Nisbet and Tyron Maher to claim his first win in the Sunday morning series.
Hayley Nixon revelled in the tough conditions to post an impressive win over last week's winner Jenna Ward and Donna Winter.
The Molokai champion said that the decision to revert to a course inside the shelter of the bay had been a good one, but the conditions had still been tough to master.
"It was freezing out there! It was so unlike typical Durban conditions," said Nixon. "The downwind leg down to the river mouth was great fun and really competitive.
"It was great that all the singles started together so that we could race with the men," she added.
"After the turn at the can coming back into the weather was a real grit and a grind. It was bumpy conditions and the wind was blowing, which made for really good training," said Nixon.
The double ski field revelled in the stormy conditions, with the duo of Jason Ekstrand and Hamish Lovemore banking the win with the fastest time of the day, with the minor placings going to Brendon Delport and Richard Lowe, and the crew of Gavin Searle and Grant Smith.
The next race, the Geriatskis Race, Race three of the Bay Union Open Ocean Surfski Series takes place at Vetch's Beach on Sunday, July 22.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS - Citadel Open Ocean Challenge
Race Two of the Bay Union Open Ocean Surfski Series
1 Hank McGregor 0:58:47.05
2 Gene Prato 1:00:25.07
3 Luke Nisbet 1:00:48.16
4 Tyron Maher 1:00:57.04
5 Herman Chalupsky 1:02:41.29
6 Stewart Little 1:03:00.56
7 Quinton Rutherford 1:03:11.76
8 Hayley Nixon 1:06:05.00
9 Hamish Mackenzie 1:07:27.35
10 Paulos Shozi 1:08:28.07
11 Jenna Ward 1:08:31.71
12 Malcolm Pitt 1:08:34.67
13 Donna Winter 1:08:45.67
14 Colin Simpkins 1:08:55.06
15 Craig Greenland 1:09:43.27
16 Mark Lewin 1:11:27.68
17 Ross Fountain 1:11:49.33
18 Grant Fowlds 1:11:52.78
19 Jasper Gaylard 1:12:39.30
20 Michel De Rauville 1:12:56.47
1.Hayley Nixon 1:06:05.00
2.Jenna Ward 1:08:31.71
3.Donna Winter 1:08:45.67
4.Christie Mackenzie 1:15:55.21
1 Jason Ekstrand/Hamish Lovemore 0:58:34.49
2 Brendon Delport/Richard Lowe 1:01:51.73
3 Gavin Searle/Grant Smith 1:02:59.73
4 Allan Hold/Geoff Thompson 1:05:05.49
5 Claudio Manfron/Craig Bruton 1:06:06.40
6 Trevor Vernes/Skye Prato 1:06:40.75
7 Buckey Symons/Dave Fraser 1:06:47.80
8 Steve Evans/Nigel Oxenham 1:07:33.53
9 David Aikins/Wally Bodin 1:07:42.75
10 Derek Hauptfleisch/Jorg Wellinger 1:09:57.16