Hank McGregor ended a highly successful paddling month of May by winning the iconic Bay Union King of the Bay surfski race in tough, blustery conditions off Durban on Sunday.
A week after his successful national marathon championships in Cape Town, the 43-year-old powered away from a class field to win by almost a minute from Matt Bouman, with Gene Prato making up the balance of the podium.
Racing across Durban harbour in bumpy conditions and then into a contrasting open ocean sector that featured good runs on the downwind leg to the uMngeni River mouth followed by a brutal slog home into the teeth of the strengthening wind, McGregor took the lead from a big bunch after leaving the harbour mouth, and never relaxed his grip on the race.
“The wind was building the whole time!” said McGregor. “There were some really nice runs going down to the river mouth, then it was just a hard slog home.
“I got to the turn can at the river mouth in front and just built on the lead from there,” the Team Euro Steel/Fenn racer said.
McGregor has been named in the national team for the surfski world championships scheduled for Lanzarote in Spain in July, as well as a the national marathon team to Romania in September.
Michaelhouse schoolboys Jack Edmonds and Murray Behn won the double ski honours, handing a first defeat of the winter surfski series to the form crew of Shane Millward and Carl Folscher.
Junior Saskia Hockly laid down another marker in her impressive rise through the female paddling ranks by winning the women’s race outright, with her younger sister Valmajean and Tannah Smith completing a notable all-junior podium.
“The harbour leg was very choppy,” said Hockly, who, like McGregor, has won seats in both the national marathon and surfski teams to this year’s world championships.
“The downwind leg was really enjoyable, but coming back into the wind was terrible!” said the Danville Park Girl’s High School pupil.
“Speeds dropped right down and you just had to try and find a happy place and tell yourself you are going to make it,” she added.
The women’s doubles spoils went to Jordan Peek and Pippa McGregor, with the runner-ups berth secured by the returning-to-form Hayley Nixon and her partner Hilary Bruss.
Kwandokuhle Mzolo and Wongama Makasi won the short course, which involved heading straight to Vetch’s Beach on exiting the harbour mouth, in a tight tussle with the crew of Ian Hemingway and Dusi icon Thulani Mbanjwa.
The winter surfski series shifts its attention to the Pirates-Umhlanga-Pirates classic in two weeks time.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
BAY UNION KING OF THE BAY
1 Hank McGregor 1:34:32.22
2 Matthew Bouman 1:35:22.23
3 Gene Prato 1:38:01.21
4 Kyle Friedenstein 1:40:09.37
5 Bevan Manson 1:40:34.95
6 Jason Ekstrand 1:41:46.13
7 Jean Luc Mauvis 1:45:00.80
8 Joshua Simpkins 1:46:22.34
9 Brad Pearse 1:48:23.61
10 Brendon Waters 1:49:54.87
1 Saskia Hockly 1:56:14.58
2 Valmajean Hockly 2:06:23.90
3 Tannah Smith 2:11:59.09
1 Murray Behn/Jack Edmonds 1:43:35.64
2 Shane Millward/Carl Folscher 1:43:53.55
3 Quinton Rutherford/Derek Hompes 1:43:58.94
4 Lee Furby/Barry Painting 1:46:20.44
5 Linton Hope/Bruce Wenke 1:47:21.67
6 Luke Symons/Bradley Boulle 1:47:55.94
7 Jordan Peek/Pippa McGregor 1:49:27.69
8 Benjamin Tarr/Angus Dick 1:50:51.99
9 Craig Cook/Nicholas Cook 1:50:57.05
10 Dave Harker/Theo Smit 1:51:11.85
1 Jordan Peek/Pippa McGregor 1:49:27.69
2 Hayley Nixon/Hilary Bruss 1:53:34.03
3 Julia Mcalister/Chelsey O’Brien 2:03:38.14
1 Kwandokuhle Mzolo/Wongama Makasi 0:43:20.49
2 Ian Hemingway/Thulani Mbanjwa 0:43:25.22
3 Gavin Dundas-Starr/Tamzin Gace 0:46:11.45
4 Garnett Wilson/Tyler Wilson 0:46:35.44
5 Wim Van Herzeele/Sara Agostini 0:46:42.01
6 Richard Tandy/Vallon Kupferberg 0:48:06.84
7 Matthew Coetzer/Grace Coetzer 0:48:31.81
8 Murray Mackenzie/Kevin Oliver 0:48:54.27
9 Matthew Hollinshead/Jonathan Hollinshead 0:49:00.26
10 Wally Bodin/Jeff Schaller 0:49:27.16