Durban’s iconic surfski race, the Bay Union King of the Bay, will see a stacked women’s field fight it out to become the 2019 Queen of the Bay over the 22km route from the Silt Canal in the Durban Harbour to the uMngeni River Mouth and back to Marine SLC this Sunday.
The event is unique in that it is the only race that allows paddlers to paddle through the Durban harbour before heading out to sea through the breakwater piers. The race will combine a number of different skills and that is what Durban surfski stalwart Jenna Ward is looking forward to.
“I try and break up the race into three sections,” the Euro Steel/Fenn Kayaks star said. “There is the flat water section through the harbour, then the downwind section to the turn can and then the hard slog back into the wind to Marine.
“With that said it seems like the race is always over so quickly!”
Ward has been heavily involved in the past month’s Bay Union Open Ocean Surfski Series where she has taken part in all four of the races. She finished in second place in the two singles races to start the series and then claimed wins with her K2 partner Kyeta Purchase in the final two races.
“We are training really hard as a squad at the moment and we are seeing some good improvement which is encouraging.
“It’s going to be a big period with the Surfski World Championships next month in France and then the World Marathon Championships taking place in October after the Fish.
“The training period is a long one but we know that that is the case and this weekend fits well into our preparation.”
The women’s surfski scene in Durban is arguably one of the strongest in the world and Ward knows that there are a number of paddlers that can arrive on the day and win.
“We have so many strong paddlers around and you never know who is going to be on the start line especially for a race that is also the KZN singles championships.
“It’s also just over a month from the surfski world championships so it will be a good race to get under the belt before focusing on France.”
Ward will have her doubles partner Kyeta Purchase as competition for this weekend’s showdown and there could also be entries from the likes of world champion Hayley Nixon, Michelle Burn or last year’s runner up Sabina Lawrie.
With the international schedule being tweaked slightly going into the second half of the year, the King of the Bay will be the idea launching pad for those that are planning an assault on the international ocean racing showpiece next month.
“I am building nicely towards the end goal of the marathon world championships but I think that the surfski worlds will be a good point of reference going into China a month later.
“The King of the Bay will also give us a good indication as to where we stand going into two months of hard training and racing,” Ward added.