Racers from all around the country gathered for the much anticipated 10km flat- water race at Zinkwazi on Sunday the 14th of June.

As this was a long weekend, a couple families and participants decided to make the early trip up to spend the weekend. Zinkwazi is an ideal location for events with a world-class SUP wave out front, perfect flat-water race conditions and accommodation on the waters edge. It’s hard as a SUPer not to fall in love with the place.

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Early morning wave check at Zinkwazi point.

Competitors could be seen surfing out front, wakeboarding and just enjoying everything Zinkwazi has to offer. The water level was considerably low in comparison to previous years and a couple of the racers could also be seen paddling the course on Saturday figuring out the perfect line to take to avoid the shallow sand banks.

Race day and we were up at first light to see a couple of the Joberg paddlers sprinting passed in the chilly winters morning conditions. It was game on! This time of year in Durban, there is a light offshore breeze every morning, which meant that the start was into a head wind, although the prediction was that there was going to be no wind at all for the entire day.

Around 30 paddlers gathered at the start as the hooter sounded, with favorites Dylan Frick, Chris Couve and Gunter Berger setting the pace, with the remainder of the pack settling in to their draft. The pace eased up after the 1km mark and a train of about 10 paddlers formed with Dylan and Chris leading.

 

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The start of the race!

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Dylan in the lead just after the start, with the rest of the pack fighting to get onto his draft.

In the much anticipated ladies race, the top 3 went head to head from the start. Tarryn settled in to Jackies draft with Shelley following behind. Half way into the first lap, Tarryn picked up the pace while Jackie and Shelley took turns pulling with the hope of catching up to Tarryn. It wasn’t enough, as Tarryn continued to pull further and further away.

Approaching the first 180-degree buoy turn which sat 2.5 km’s up the river it was expected that there would be some bumping of boards. After a tussle at the buoy, that allowed Dylan to get away from the pack, the remainder of the train was forced to catch up and settle into each other’s draft. Dylan made a 20-meter lead by now, with Chris and the rest of the train behind. This is how the remainder of the first lap went, as the wind dropped and the sun came out as predicted.

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Paddlers race off into the distance.

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The train of paddlers coming back from the first lap in the pristine flat-water conditions.

At the 5km mark, Dylan had a big lead and the 2nd train of paddlers had formed with Chris leading, Gunter, Justin, Steve Lawson and Brandon Read trailing behind. After the buoy turn, it was much the same, with Brandon falling off the pack, only to make up 15 meters at least, to join the train again. The fight was now for 2nd and 3rd place with Chris leading the pack and Gunter closely behind. Chris put in an interval, that left Gunter and the rest of the train in his wake and having to play catch up! With 2 km’s to go, Justin moved into 3rd ahead of Gunter with Steve and Brandon trailing. The last 1 km was a flat out sprint between these 4 paddlers, for 3rd spot as they started catching up to Chris, but it was to little to late. It was a similar finish to last years race with Brandon taking a wider line and reeling in the other paddlers as they approached the finish. All paddlers hit the beach, seconds apart with Justin claiming the last podium position, after a nail biting finish that included a calve burning run up the sand dune to see paddlers collapse at the finish!

 

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The vibe amongst competitors was great with smiles and high fives at the finish line!

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One of the race stand outs Dean Botcher finishing strong in the top 10, proving that his new training routine is definitely paying off!

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Paddlers collapse at the finish after an intense 10 km’s!

The ladies came in with Tarryn winning comfortably. Jackie came in 2nd, securing another great result to help with her campaign to qualify for the 2016 SA SUP Team. 2013 Zinkwazi Champ Shelley, came out of retirement to finish strongly in 3rd.

The team relay at the end of the day was a fun element to the event which consisted of 5 team members. It included a 200M-relay sprint race including 1 buoy turn at the 100M mark. Team Coreban walked away with the win in this event.

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 Men’s Open Top 3 from left Dylan Frick, Chris Couve and Justin Bing.

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Top3 in the Open ladies from left, Shelley Bradfield, Tarryn King and Jackie De Billot.

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Juniors winner Kyle Chrystal.

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Divas winner Cynthia Baxter

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Top 3 in the legends division from left, Grantley Read, Brandon Read and Anton Nel.

Thanks to Gunter Berger from Starboard, for putting on, yet another great Zinkwazi event. See everyone next year, same time, same place!

The next big event in Durban is the SUP Durbs Pro which starts on the 10th of July and includes surfing and racing. If the last couple of months of perfect surf in Durban are anything to go by, this is going to be an incredible event! See you there.

Zinkwazi 2015 – Justin Bing