Team South Africa consolidated their lead after an excellent all-round performance on the second day of the Southern Shamaal International Surfski Challenge between Port Elizabeth and East London.

Due to weather concerns, the singles and doubles were set off on the same 22-kilometre course between West Beach in Port Alfred and Kenton-on-Sea instead of the normal relay format that would’ve taken paddlers to Woody Cape in two stages.

South Africa’s doubles combination of Barry Lewin and Bevan Manson was in a class of their own, exiting the water first in a time of 1:30:43. Australia’s Ash Nesbit and Brandon Sarson were second in 1:34:18.

Team UAE’s Hayden Smith and Peter O’Higgins were third (1:34:29), followed by the Transnationals’ Ryan Louw and Mark Bosch (1:36:30) with South Africa B’s Hennie Roos and Steve Woods (1:37:08) in fifth.

Their strong showing in the doubles afforded SA’s Richard von Wildemann the luxury of only having to mark his Australian counterpart, nine-times Molokai champion Dean Gardiner, to ensure them of a lead at the halfway stage of the gruelling 240-kilometre, four-day event.

Von Wildemann’s time of 1:40:15 was fourth quickest, 31 seconds faster than Gardiner (1:40:46) in fifth, ensuring that the South Africans posted the fastest combined time (3:10:58) of the day.

The Transnationals’ Jasper Mocke – younger brother of newly crowned World Series Champion Dawid – delivered his second strong singles performance in as many days, setting the fastest time (1:35:18), in the process kicking sand into the eyes of some of his more illustrious opposition.

The Emirates’ Jonathan Crowe also produced a stand-out performance in the singles, placing second in 1:36:51. South Africa B’s Tom Schilperoort was third in 1:39:14.

The Emirates’ combined time of 3:11:20 was the second fastest of the day, with the Transnationals third in 3:11:48, Australia fourth in 3:15:04 and South Africa B fifth in 3:16:22.

“Due to the mist the entire way, the conditions were extremely tough,” Lewin said afterwards. “When there is mist, the wind stays away, making conditions a lot flatter with very little open ocean runs.

“We had to work extremely hard to catch the runs. It was a very physical day.”

Lewin said their strategy was to go out hard due to the shortened day. “We broke away in the first surf zone with a very clean line between the waves and maintained the lead until the end.”

“I think tomorrow is going to be the toughest day. The race will be won on tomorrow’s performance.”

About his win, Mocke said it was important to get off to a good start. “You don’t want to get held back in the waves.

“I was out first and pretty much never looked back. Thereafter I was able to focus on my own race.

“Initially I felt a bit tired, but I got better as the day went on. It was a lot flatter than yesterday, but there were still cacheable runs.”

The Transnationals’ performance saw them moving up to third place overall behind leaders South Africa and Australia.

Day three’s stage is from Hamburg to Port Alfred, a total of 66 kilometres. The change-over is at Fish River, 40 kilometres after the start.

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