Team Australia’s chances of making up lost ground on South Africa were dealt a cruel blow on Monday when day three of the Southern Shamaal International Surfski Challenge was cancelled due to the prevailing misty conditions.
After the race start was initially delayed until noon, organisers called halt to proceedings shortly before midday when it became apparent that the conditions were becoming progressively worse.
The third day, a 66-kilometre stretch of rugged coastline between Hamburg and Port Alfred, presented Australia’s best chance of making inroads into the South Africans’ lead.
“It seems the African weather gods are conspiring against us,” nine-times Molokai champion Dean Gardiner said tongue-in-cheek. “It obviously gives us less chance to make up time, but it is one of those things.”
Gardiner was coy about their tactics for the final day, which is a 56-kilometre paddle between Hamburg and Nahoon Beach in East London.
“We will wait and see what the weather does first before we put a game plan together. Who knows, it might not improve and then the race may already be over.”
With Gardiner being one of the world’s top exponents of downwind conditions, it is no secret that the Aussies will be hoping for another blustery day. The forecast is however not in their favour with a very low north-westerly wind predicted.
After losing just over four minutes to South Africa’s Barry Lewin, Richard von Wildemann and Bevan Manson on day two, Australia’s Gardiner, Ash Nesbit and Brendon Sarson find themselves more than six minutes down and with a lot of work to do.
More realistically, they will be looking over their shoulder at the Transnationals team – spearheaded by the in-form Jasper Mocke – who started making their move up the standings on day two in similar conditions to those that are being forecast for tomorrow. Mocke is partnered by Ryan Louw and Mark Bosch.
Team UAE, who started as outside favourites in this relay event, also came back strongly on the second day after overshooting the mark and losing huge chunks of time on the opening day.
Yesterday the trio consisting of Australian expats Jonathan Crowe, Hayden Smith and Peter O’Higgins collectively finished a mere 22 seconds behind the South Africans, but they will struggle to make up all of the lost time and is probably destined to stay in fifth position overall.
South Africa B – consisting of Hennie Roos, Tom Schilperoort and Steve Woods – is looking to make up just over a minute on the Transnationals for a place on the podium.
Although they came to the race with superb credentials, Team USA’s inexperience in ocean paddling, especially at this level of competition, has shown and they are currently lagging in 10th place – almost an hour behind.
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Full Stop Communications
On behalf of:
Zports and Southern Shamaal