Surfksi paddlers are toasting the news that the iconic Bay Union King of the Bay surfski race, that was postponed when the hard lockdown was implemented, has been rescheduled for 4 October, and will retain its national double-ski championship status.

The distinctive 25 kilometre paddle starts at the Silt Canal on the Bluff Bayhead and paddles across the breadth of Durban harbour before exiting the breakwaters for an open ocean leg to the Mngeni River mouth and back to Vetch’s Beach.

Event organisers Neels Meyer said that the mood in the surfski community was enthusiastic and he anticipated that the event, which already draws a big entry, will be seen as a celebration of a return to enjoying landmark paddling events.

“It was confirmed at the KZN Canoe Union Zoom meeting this week that we can go ahead with the race on Sunday 4 October and it will decide both the SA and KZN double ski titles,” said Meyer.

“The Pirates-Umhlanga-Pirates race last weekend attracted a record entry, so we are planning on a huge response to the Bay Union King of the Bay as it is a very accessible event with its long course and short course options,” he added.

The SA single ski championships will be decided at a race in St Francis on the weekend of the SA canoeing marathon championships the weekend after the Bay Union King of the Bay.

Meyer stressed that the organisers would adhere to every aspect of the lockdown regulations that currently apply to hosting paddling events, and was confident that the paddlers would be fully co-operative.

“It will be different as we work with smaller numbers and ensure social distancing, and we have seen from the first few races that the KZNCU has held on the Upper Mngeni that this is very do-able, and the paddlers have been co-operative and adapted well,” said Meyer.

“The big thing is the event is happening,” he stressed. “Paddlers have been able to train and enjoy the ocean but they have not been able to compete.

“The Bay Union King of the Bay is the one chance in the year that we can paddle across the harbour and out through the breakwater piers, so it is fitting that we can use this as a chance to celebrate returning to doing what we love, after persevering through the lockdown,” he added.

Meyer said that the downwind event that had been mooted as a precursor to the Bay Union King of the Bay will not happen, but confirmed that the King of the Bay will take place over its traditional course on Sunday 4 October.

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