South African surf-lifesaver Luke Nisbet disposed of Bulgarian multiple world champion Petar Stoychev and Australian Andrew Mosel in the King of the Bay elimination swim at the MTN Nelson Mandela Bay Splash Festival in a wet Port Elizabeth on Easter Monday.
The 24-year-old Durbanite made the best use of the choppy conditions to completely dominate the five-round event against a top international field.
The first 20 finishers in the preceding Izani Siqubhe 1km ocean swim qualified for the feature race, in which four competitors were eliminated in each of the four preliminary rounds. The last four then battled it out for the title and prize-money in the fifth and final round.
Nisbet, who was beaten into second by Stoychev in the previous day’s 7km Bell Buoy Challenge open water swim, won three of the preliminary 400m swims and finished second in one to qualify for the final alongside Stoychev, Mosel and PE’s Chris van der Sande.
In the final he again got the better of Mosel, while Stoychev had to sprint all the way to the finish to grab the final podium spot ahead of a disappointed Van der Sande.
The big Bulgarian, a nine-times world champion, clearly struggled with the beach sprint into and out of the surf and was left to play catch-up throughout. In the end he left himself with too much to do and simply ran out of steam.
“It is the first elimination race that I’ve ever done,” said Nisbet. “It was so tough having to do five races in a row in these conditions, against this opposition. I was really buggered at the end.”
Nisbet said the beach run, both ways, was “pretty vital”. “My tactic was to use it to my advantage over the pool swimmers and that, evidently, worked out well.”
Australia’s Candice Falzon laid the foundation for her victory in the women’s event by winning the first eliminator. She notched up a further win and two seconds in qualifying for the final.
In the final she got the better of world 5km champion Melissa Gorman, who had won the Bell Buoy Challenge on Saturday, with Durban’s Michelle Eder taking the final money-paying position.
“I caught a good wave in the first round of the knock-out and in the following rounds I just made sure that I was comfortably placed,” said Falzon, who led the final from start to finish.
“I knew the other girls were stronger swimmers, so I used the beach run to my advantage.
Falzon said it was also important to catch the wave at the end of the final. “I managed, but it broke right in front of Melissa and that was the difference.”
The surf ski discipline was won by Cape Town’s Sean Rice, with PE’s national paddler Richard von Wildemann runner-up and Durban’s world junior kayak champion Grant van der Walt taking the change. PE’s Ryan Louw, who won the paddle at the inaugural Ocean Racing Series World Championships on Saturday, was the first to miss out.
“I had absolutely no game plan. It was just go. On the way out it was all about fighting through the lactic acid and, after the turn, about catching the first runner.”
Mosel turned the tables in the Malibu board category by beating Nisbet into second, with Capetonian Jayden Loots third. Local boy Jason Goedhals was the one to miss out on the podium.
Prize-money of R29 000 was up for grabs.
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Full Stop Communications
On behalf of:
MTN Nelson Mandela Bay Splash Festival