There were tough sea conditions at the Gara Dolphin Coast Challenge in the final stage that saw overnight leader Hayley Nixon falling out of contention after a freak incident in the strong winds, and Michelle Burn grabbing the title on Sunday, 18 August 2019.

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,” she continued.

“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 ended.

“It was great that the women were so close to each other, which made it a great race.” – Gara Dolphin Coast Challenger winner, Michelle Burn

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,” said Burn.

“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,” she added.

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.

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

Summary Of Results
Gara Dolphin Coast Challenge

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

Doubles (Mixed genders)
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

Photo 1 Caption: Michelle Burn kept her cool in the tough conditions to win the women’s title at the Gara Dolphin Coast Challenge on Sunday, 18 August, 2019. Photo: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

 

With editing by gsport