Some the best surfski racers in the world will converge on Durban on the weekend of 25 and 26 June for the 2016 FNB Durban Downwind, setting the stage for another world class duel as the World Surfski Series title event draws top elite ocean racers to Durban idyllic wintery conditions for the 26km clash.
With a two day window period and course flexibility, organisers hope to provide participants with the best possible downwind conditions to enjoy between Marine Surf Lifesaving Club (SLC) at Addington beach and La Mercy, or vice versa depending on the wind direction.
Having had two out-of-town winners – Jasper Mocké (Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks) from Fish Hoek, Western Cape in 2014 and Australia’s Michael Booth last year – since its inception two years ago, the richly talented crop of Durban based paddlers will be eager to see the crown remain in the host city this time around.
With six time Canoe Marathon World Champion, Hank McGregor (Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks), McGregor’s regular local rival, Matt Bouman (Epic Kayaks) and rapidly improving lifesaving convert, Wade Krieger (Epic Kayaks/Falcon World Travel) all from KZN shores, the local challenge is set to be a strong one.
The event has however also enjoyed a prominent presence of classy, experienced surfski paddlers from the Western Cape in the past with the likes of Mocké’s brother, Dawid (Fenn Kayaks/Mocké Paddling), Sean Rice (Think Kayak), Kenny Rice (Think Kayak) and junior flyer Mark Keeling having all claimed top ten finishes previously, setting up another tough task for KZN’s racing snakes should they hope to reign supreme.
It remains to be seen if international contenders such as defending champion Booth and fellow Australian and 2014 Durban Downwind sixth place finisher, Mark Anderson will make the trip out to South Africa for this year’s mouth-watering match-up.
While the majority of the focus will be on the singles racing, Durban’s affinity for doubles racing is likely to draw a healthy S2 field as well, an event that will run concurrently to the S1 clash.
Through the generous support of title sponsors FNB, the first 100 online entrants will receive a complimentary moisture management race garment while R40 000 will be up for grabs across all age and gender categories and all participants stand the chance of claiming one of the various sought-after Thule lucky draws prizes at the event’s prize giving.
Online entries, submitted via www.roag.co.za, close on Wednesday, 22 June with registration taking place at Marine SLC on Friday, 24 June from 17h00-19h00.
The 2016 FNB Durban Downwind takes place on 25 or 26 June, the final race date and venue will be announced on the series’ Facebook page on Thursday, 23 June.