Michelle Burn bagged the plum title in the single ski races at the Fenn SA Surfski Championships, over 26km from Durban Undersea Club to Amanzimtoti on Saturday, 10 April 2021.
Burn revelled in the familiar ocean conditions to canter away from the stacked women’s field to claim an almost five-minute victory margin over Cape racers Kira Bester – who claimed the national U23 title – and Melanie van Niekerk.
As a seasoned downwind racer Burn said that the conditions had been hard to come to grips with.
“I definitely thought the runs would be a bit easier,” said Burn. “I found then a bit trickier and slow. Looking at the speeds I was getting on the runs I realised it was going to be a long, hard paddle.”
“I just decided to put blinkers on and paddle my own race, which went quite well.” – Fenn SA Surfski Championships winner, Michelle Burn
“I went too hard in the first few kilometres of the race, hustling at the start after I got stuck behind some others at the start.
“I was racing with Melanie (van Niekerk) for a while but then I just decided to put blinkers on and paddle my own race, which went quite well,” said Burn.
She squealed with delight when reflecting on winning the national title after many years as a benchmark female downwind racer.
Durban teenager Saskia Hockly finished fourth to win the Under 18 national title, while her younger sister Valmajean took the Under 16 national laurels just ahead of Holly Smith, both racing into the top ten finishers overall.
The attention will turn to the northerly course option on Sunday when the field contesting the SA double ski titles will tackle the 23km route from DUC to Mdloti, with the abating winds threatening to make it a tough grind for the double-ski crews.
Summary of Results:
1. Michelle Burn 1:58:20
2. Kira Bester 2:03:08 (U23)
3. Melanie van Niekerk 2:06:25
4. Saskia Hockly 2:11:44 (U18)
5. Candice Murray 2:12:53
6. Sharon Armstrong 2:14:48
7. Jade Wilson 2:15:40 (U23)
8. Valmajean Hockly 2:19:00 (U16)
9. Holly Smith 2:19:18 (U16)
10. Christie Shrimpton 2:23:30 (U23)
Photo 1 Caption: Michelle Burn claimed the national women’s single ski title with an emphatic victory at the Fenn SA Surfski championships in Durban on Saturday afternoon. Photo: Anthony Grote / Gameplan Media
With editing by gsport