Dolphin Coast titles decided in gale-force drama

Hank McGregor (Image supplied by Gameplan Media)
Hank McGregor (Image supplied by Gameplan Media)

Durban – Hank McGregor wrapped up his victory in tough sea conditions at the Dolphin Coast Challenge while the final stage saw overnight women's leader Hayley Nixon falling out of contention after a freak incident in the strong winds, and Michelle Burn grabbed the title.

McGregor had a two minute lead in the bank as her started the rejigged second stage from the Durban Undersea Club on a northerly out-and-back course set by the organisers after the North Easterly buster swept into the area overnight, whipping up big surf conditions. 

After grinding impressively into the choppy headwind McGregor mastered the downwind leg back to the finish ahead of Barry Lewin in second and Gene Prato in third.

"It was a real challenge today, with the second biggest swell this year running," said McGregor.

"There were six of us together going up to the turn-can above the river mouth, and on the way home it was every man for himself," said the Fenn/Euro Steel star.

"I was able to get one or two runs ahead and win the second stage to get the win overall, which I am stoked about," added McGregor. "Well done to everyone that finished."

In the women's race reigning world champ Hayley Nixon started with a twenty second overnight lead over Michelle Burn and just had to stay with her and the on-form Nikki Birkett to win the title.

Everything changed right at the start as they charged off the beach at DUC. In the choppy sea conditions she took a nudge from behind and fell out of her ski, and the strong Easterly wind blew her ski away from her.

"It was my mistake," said Nixon afterwards. "I had my leash on my calf but I hadn't attached it to the boat. We usually do that once we are free of the chaos of the start and I hadn't done that yet as the pace was so competitive and we were about a kilometre into the race.

"It turned into a very long swim as my ski was blown away from me. Thankfully Lance Wyly saw it and intercepted it before he also fell out.

"I finally got back to the boat and then fell out again trying to remount, and my ski blew away again. By the time I managed to get back on I couldn't even see Nikki (Birkett) and Mich (Burn).

"It was a bad mistake and it cost me dearly," she added.

That left the door open for Michelle Burn, who admitted afterwards that she was lacking motivation going into the final day.

"I really wasn't keen on another out-and-back and my arms were feeling the first stage going into the headwind, it was really strong and wishy-washy and there were waves breaking everywhere.

"After the accident with Hayley (Nixon), Nikki (Russell) was some way ahead. I had a small swim at the turn-can, but luckily I got back into my boat quickly.

"I managed to string some runs together and finally spotted Nikki ahead of me as we came into the finish. I knew I had thirty seconds to play with and I put my head down and caught one or two massive runs," said Burn.

In her haste to get to the finish she paddled over Vetch's Reef and damaged her rudder. "I looked to my left and saw Nikki had a swim, so we both had mishaps right at the finish." said Burn.

"It was great that the women were so close to each other, which made it a great race," she concluded.

Clint Pretorius and Ryan Butcher won the double ski race from the husband-and-wife duo of  Brett and Danica Bartho.


1 Hank McGregor 1:29:57.80 1:10:38.39 2:40:36.19 
2 Barry Lewin 1:32:03.61 1:11:25.44 2:43:29.05 
3 Gene Prato 1:32:31.17 1:11:22.10 2:43:53.27 
4 Steve Woods 1:33:52.04 1:11:25.01 2:45:17.05 
5 Tyron Maher 1:34:03.88 1:12:26.09 2:46:29.97 
6 Herman Chalupsky 1:33:33.50 1:16:30.13 2:50:03.64 
7 Keithley Burn 1:37:59.31 1:12:11.75 2:50:11.06 
8 Quinton Rutherford 1:37:52.20 1:12:56.35 2:50:48.55 
9 Oliver Burn 1:39:22.27 1:14:48.83 2:54:11.10 
10 Daniel Jacobs 1:39:12.08 1:17:23.45 2:56:35.54 


1 Michelle Burn 1:44:16.21 1:22:38.13 3:06:54.34 
2 Nikki Birkett 1:44:43.05 1:22:56.49 3:07:39.54 
3 Hayley Nixon 1:43:55.35 1:34:11.57 3:18:06.93 
4 Sabina Lawrie 1:54:00.35 1:30:26.30 3:24:26.65 


1 Clint Pretorius/Ryan Butcher 1:34:47.94 1:13:39.72 2:48:27.66 
2 Brett Bartho/Danica Bartho 1:37:13.86 1:14:06.93 2:51:20.79 
3 Malcolm Pitt/Brad Pearse 1:38:32.89 1:17:50.94 2:56:23.84 
4 Ian Marais/Marc Descoins 1:39:34.31 1:18:33.12 2:58:07.44 
5 Steaphan MacDonald/Craig Greenland 1:41:25.65 1:26:28.57 3:07:54.22 
6 Grant Smith/Craig McIntosh 1:46:42.74 1:21:14.42 3:07:57.16 
7 Gary Waud/James Tutton 1:45:38.07 1:25:43.22 3:11:21.30 
8 Lee Furby/Malcolm Carey 1:45:38.55 1:25:50.04 3:11:28.59 
9 Bruce Glenday/ Steve Pearson 1:49:02.23 1:26:11.89 3:15:14.12 
10 Lyn Bennett/Quintus Van Der Merwe 1:52:47.42 1:27:01.56 3:19:48.99 

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