Clear leaders in Challenge
After two gruelling days of the biennial PE to East London Surfski race, affectionately known as the Challenge, two clear leaders have emerged.
Event sponsors and Nelson Mandela Bay businessmen Hein van Rooyen and Jason Goedhals put in a commanding performance on the massive opening 76km on day one.
The life-long friends and avid composite specialists formed the surfski brand Carbonology Sport more than 10 years ago.
Their title sponsorship of the Challenge has been an entire lifetime in the making.
Goedhals’s father did the 1974 event and Van Rooyen competed in his first as a junior lifeguard on a heavy surf lifesaving sprint surfski.
Winning the opening stage set up an interesting duel with club mates Howard Loftus and Andrew Stone.
Border Canoe Club’s Bevan Manson is in incredible form and looks set to wrap up the singles title with back-to-back stage wins.
Manson, a decade-long Springbok water polo player, turned his attention to paddling in 2006 and has never looked back.
With an uncanny ability to suffer, the 40-year-old naturally took to the Challenge like a duck to water.
Building up to the event Manson racked up countless kilometres and your contributor thinks even the great Hank McGregor would have battled to beat him over the four-day epic.
Lone woman entrant Bianca Bevitt cruised through the surf without much fuss and looks set to successfully complete another Challenge.
An event like no other, the Carbonology Sport Challenge is the toughest thing you can do in a surfski and is without a doubt a savage test of character.
Cape Town’s Tiy Fey found that out the hard way after losing his craft on the epic downwind on stage two.
His leash stretched and snapped due to the harsh wind.
Left floating at sea for more than an hour, Fey was eventually rescued by the NSRI.
He will continue paddling on for the final stages.
Race founder John Woods has been a welcome sight on the beach and has definitely helped lift the spirits of the entire field with his presence.
The Challenge finishes on Saturday at Orient Beach, with the first paddlers expected to arrive around 10am.
The organisation has been incredible and the event committee can take a bow for running an extremely professional event.
Next up are the Cape Point Challenge and Non-Stop Fish fun paddle in Cradock.