Hank McGregor kept up his unblemished record at the PetreFuel Dolphins Coast Challenge while new world champion Michelle Burn easily won the women’s race on the first leg of the two-day surfski classic on Saturday.
Racing in cold, drizzly but largely windless conditions from Pirates SLC to mDloti beach, McGregor, who has never been beaten in a Dolphin Coast Challenge that he has raced competitively, cantered home unchallenged to take the first stage victory.
“The polar bears pulled into Durban today! It felt like I had brought the Berg home to Durban,” said McGregor, who had just returned from his thrilling tussle at the Berg River Canoe Marathon in the Western Cape.
“It was pretty flat out there, so once I had managed to get out clean from the start I took a straight line to the Umhlanga lighthouse, and I was on my own for most of the day,” said McGregor.
“From the lighthouse I was able to catch up some of the doubles, which is great because everyone is so encouraging and there is a really great vibe in the ocean,” added the Fenn/Euro Steel star.
McGregor said that it had been relatively easy to hit top-form after his gruelling three-way battle on the Berg with Andy Birkett and Hamish Lovemore that ended just six days ago.
“It felt totally different getting into a surfski,” said McGregor. “Obviously I had that fitness and that base so I will just capitalise with some speedwork leading up to the marathon world champs next month,” he said.
Veteran Herman Chalupsky was the second single ski home, ahead of a superb showing by Under 23 ace Alex Masina.
Just behind him Matthew Coetzer took the junior race overnight bragging rights by less than a minute from Josh Simpkins.
The first ski home was the crew of McGregor’s wife Pippa partnering Hamish Lovemore, benefitting from the doubles starting ahead of the single skis.
The women’s race started as a two-boat affair between the recently crowned ICF ocean racing world champion Michelle Burn and junior world champ Saskia Hockly.
Burn said that the cold weather meant she was slow to get going.
“I was feeling pretty uncomfortable the first three or four kays, just feeling cold and battling to get into a good rhythm,” said Burn.
“Slowly I got into a better rhythm and got into a bunch that was all about fast-paced intervals until I settled down with Steve Cohen and realised that we had dropped the rest of the group.
“I knew it was going to be flat I so I didn’t expect anything, but it was still pretty fast because the current was with us from yesterday’s wind, so it wasn’t too bad,” she added.
Burn came storming through the field and excelled with a top ten finish overall in the single ski field.
The on-form Hockly sisters Saskia and Valma Jean made up the balance of the women’s podium, securing their leads in the Under 18 and Under 18 girls races in the process.
With the race doubling as the KZN single ski champs for 2021, the lion’s share of the field was competing in singles.
Hamish Lovemore and Pippa McGregor capped a great day out for the MacSquad contingent by winning the doubles dice overall from the season’s pacesetters Carl Folscher and Shane Millward and the veterans Bruce Wenke and Linton Hope.
The second stage bon Sunday will be contested from Salt Rock to mDloti beach on Sunday.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
PETREFUEL DOLPHIN COAST CHALLENGE
HTML clipboard 1 Hank McGregor 1:27:01.53
2 Herman Chalupsky 1:36:00.51
3 Alex Masina 1:37:30.63
4 Matthew Coetzer 1:37:46.63
5 Barry Lewin 1:37:56.57
6 Quinton Rutherford 1:38:05.66
7 Joshua Simpkins 1:38:49.34
8 Nic Burden 1:39:43.17
9 Steve Cohen 1:39:57.06
10 Michelle Burn 1:40:06.53
11 Brent Chiazzari 1:41:25.05
12 Andrew Cairns 1:41:43.39
13 Brendon Thompson 1:41:57.46
14 Joe Terblanche 1:42:12.63
15 Shaine Mcalister 1:42:17.84
16 Benjamin Maehler 1:43:02.48
17 Brad Pearse 1:44:37.15
18 Bruce Pender-Smith 1:44:37.62
19 Bryce Lawson 1:44:49.62
20 Jack Shooter 1:44:55.44
1 Hamish Lovemore/Pippa McGregor
2 Carl Folscher/Shane Millward
3 Bruce Wenke/Linton Hope
4 Lee Furby/Barry Painting
5 Bryce Hatton/Marc Stanton
6 Gary Waud/Glenn Hilliar
7 Dave Coleman/Mike Coleman
8 Dean Chiazzari/Jayden Jansen Van Rensburg
9 Skye Prato/Don Gobey
10 Craig Cook/Brett Frost