Clear lead­ers in Chal­lenge

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Sport - RICHARD VON WILDEMANN

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.

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