HAVING played runners-up in the opening two encounters of the series, Matt Bouman and Hayley Nixon shrugged off the brides maids tag to take their first wins respectively at the Daikin Surfski Challenge, Race Three of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club recently.Despite the field being slightly depleted with paddlers opting to travel to Underberg early for the N3TC Drak Challenge starting on Saturday, SMG/Epic Kayaks' Matt Bouman was surprised by the conditions that were served up to the competitors."It was another really cool paddle," the experienced Bouman said. "The wind was a bit surprising as we were expecting a south-easter which would have been a bit miserable but we got a pumping south-wester which gave us nice gentle bumps all the way to North Beach."The dice at the front of the race was between Bouman and Wade Krieger, a battle that has played out often in the surf in and around Durban."The race was fun as always, Wade is paddling well and for a while I didn't think that I was going to drop him."It's an honest, hard race every Friday with nowhere to hide and I am grateful that I was able to come out on top," added Bouman.Having finished second in the opening two races of the series to Bridgitte Hartley, Euro Steel/Carbonology Sports' Hayley Nixon is in for a bumper weekend of racing starting with an impressive win at the FNB Surfski Series."I am glad that I was able to come down and do the race before leaving for the Drak Challenge tomorrow," she mentioned. "The south-wester meant that we had a few more bumps and runs to try and catch on the way to the can at North Beach."There was a bit of a head wind coming back which forced you to work hard."Nixon was the first to admit that the field was not as strong as previous weeks but she knew that it was important to keep her wits about her with the likes of Michelle Burn chasing her the whole way."It was a bit of a depleted field with some of the girls making the trip up to Underberg early but with the likes of Michelle Burn on the start line you can never be complacent."I was happy that I had a great race and with this being my third week back in training things are starting to feel better and I feel a bit more connected to the boat," Nixon added.Jason Ekstrand and Richard Lowe made it three wins from three in the doubles category on Friday while Sharon Armstrong and Jonty Dobrowsky taking the mixed doubles honours. In the short course it was Matthew Mouron who took his third in a row with Keaton Riddle and Luke Criticos in third.Nick Park-Ross took his third win in the SUP category with Danica Bartho taking the win in the ladies SUP race.The Thule Surfski Challenge, Race Four of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday, 20 January at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, Addington Beach. More information can be found atwww.marineseries.co. za - Supplied.