They Brought a Bazooka to a Knife Fight
“They brought a bazooka to a knife fight” is what Barry Lewin had to say about Bevan Manson and Kyle Friedenstien’s victory in Saturday’s Scottburgh to Brighton Surfski race. Barry positioned the magnitude of their performance just right, when he pointed out that Bevan and Kyle were only 4 minutes off the record, a record set by Matt Bouman and Herman Chalupsky in a raging SW buster. The only difference was Bevan and Kyle set their time in close to flat conditions!
Speaking of conditions, there was much speculation about the predicted conditions leading up to the race. The forecast websites could not agree and forecasts were changing hourly. We had forcecasts that went from headwinds to screaming tailwinds, no surf to “run for the hills” surf. As it turned out, conditions were close to ideal for surfski paddling, with medium surf and a slowly building SW wind.
John and I patched up our ageing double and entered. This years race was dedicated to the memory of Lettie Heyns who passed away just before the event. She, and the Lettie movement she inspired touched our local paddling community deeply. It was moving to see so many paddlers dressed in pink and we honoured a minutes silence before the race got underway. It was great to see a reasonable number of entrants after the piss poor attendance of recent events.
The starter timed the start to perfection and all boats got away cleanly through a large gap in the surf. Almost immediately there were runs. The land breeze was still blowing but the swell was SW pushed us at 13 km/hr and more towards the compulsory stop at ‘toti 30 km away. ‘Toti is famous for always having challenging surf and today was no different. We timed our arrival at the backline perfectly with the arrival of a large set. We had to wait it out while the set rolled under us. It was fun watching a few of the crews trying to scramble over the set waves on their way back off the beach. After getting through the surf cleanly we glugged down some coke, gobbled a bar of chocolate and emptied a few litres of water out of the ski. We left the beach just a few seconds after the leading, and ultimately victorious, ladies team of Nicky Russel and Danica Bartho. There was half a gap in the backline and we watched the girls go for it. Sadly they did not make it, but the airtime their unmanned ski achieved was impressive. Our patience paid off and we were through without too much drama.
For the final 15km stretch to Brighton, the SW started to kick up and bit. There were finally decent runs to be had. The hassle with marginal runs is one has to up the anti to catch them. 5 km later we had cooked our goose chasing runs and were forced to back off and cruise home the final 10km. The surf at Brighton was pretty easy. There was a hard breaking sand bank and a cheeky shore break but few had problems.
Mark Lewin won the singles in his new Point Speed ski. Not much known about this ski yet. But it has beautiful lines and really seems quick. Perhaps a review in the near future…
This was one of the best Scottburgh to Brighton’s and one of the highlights of the 2014 season. The organisers were on the ball and the goodie bag was stuffed. Hats off to the organisers for breaking with tradition and using a window period this year. This enabled a slightly later the usual start giving the predicted SW a chance to blow during the race. If you did not paddle, you missed out. Next year then.