‘Wall and Back series is a fantastic string of races,’ says champ

2013-10-16 00:00

RECENTLY crowned Flatwater Marathon World Champion Hank McGregor tops the list of countless surfski enthusiasts excitedly preparing for Friday’s opening leg of the recently relaunched Illovo Suncoast Wall and Back Surfski Series — one of the region’s grandfathers of surfski paddling.

Hosted by Durban beachfront-based surf life-saving club Suncoast Pirates, the six-leg series had new life breathed into it recently and its return to Durban’s surfski calendar has the region’s ocean paddling fraternity abuzz with excitement.

“The Wall and Back series is a fantastic string of races and I’m really excited to see it back on the calendar,” said McGregor, one of a handful of Durban’s world-class surfski stars expected to battle it out for top honours over the next six weeks of racing. I loved taking part in the series as a youngster with my father and I clearly remember everyone getting a shirt with ‘Sub-34 minute’ on it afterwards,” he said.

With races to take place on Friday evenings, McGregor believes they are the ideal opportunity to enjoy paddling on Durban’s warm waters and the perfect way to start the weekend.

“Weekday races are always really well supported in Durban. To be able to head down to the beach and have a good paddle with everyone else on Friday evening is fantastic, and really helps kick-start the weekend early,” he said.

The rewarding, yet sometimes slightly challenging, Wall and Back course sees participants head out through the surf in front of Pirates clubhouse at Battery Beach, turn south and paddle to Durban’s harbour wall before turning around and making their way back to Pirates to complete the eight-kilometre challenge.

“It’s always a really good, fun course because often there is a bit of a wave at Pirates, which keeps things nice and interesting. Then, once you’re out, it all depends on which way the wind is blowing as to whether you will have to paddle into or with the wind on the way home,” explained McGregor.

Race one of the 2013 Illovo Suncoast Wall and Back Surfski Series takes place at 5.15 pm on Friday. Entry costs R60 per paddler. Visit www.wallandback.co.za for more information.

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