Durban – Veteran surf lifesaving iron man Matt Bouman delivered a master-class in brutal surf conditions at North Beach to win the sixth edition of the ADreach Ocean heroes competition from a strong field of athletes.
Bouman exited the water after the swim leg of the four-discipline iron man event in last place as the rest of the men’s field charged into the big surf at the start of the surfski leg. As the surf churning against the pier decimated the field, Bouman used his decades of experience on a surfski and his sheer brawn to crash through the surf and into an event-winning lead.
With a sizeable lead over defending champion Connor Botha, Bouman tore along the pier on the run leg and made no mistake on the malibu board leg to wrap up a peerless victory for the Umhlanga Rox SLC stalwart, with Botha second and Sanele Nxumalo wrapping up a superb third place.
“It was really just about being consistent, moving quickly, moving decisively, and once we got around the pier to just move with the ocean,” said Bouman.
“It was such good fun. The surf was big but it was consistent. You had to understand the ocean and you had to take a gamble.
“There was good reason why I was last after the swim leg – these guys are all top swimmers and iron men and I am basically a surfski paddler.
“It was just my day. That’s what I love about racing in the ocean. I kinda let go of expectations in surf lifesaving because, while you are always trying to win, it is ultimately the ocean that says who wins,” he said.
George Edward, who was leading at the start of the ski leg with Travis Misdorp just behind him, finished fourth with Keaton Riddle, who was battling with a severe allergic reaction after the race, finishing fifth.
The women’s enduro produced even more drama. Eastern Cape ace open water swimmer Amika de Jager was superb on the swim leg, and with the organisers wisely scrapping the women’s surfski leg, she started the malibu board leg with a commanding lead.
She reached the end of the pier with her lead shrinking but then fell prey to the surf and north-easterly winds and was swept into Bay Of Plenty where she was dumped in the surf and had to swim all the way to the beach to retrieve her malibu board.
That left the door open for the nuggety defending champion Alice Edward, with young Paige Horn right on her heels, to move to the front, grind into the relentless swell to the turn-can before riding the surf into the beach for the run leg along the pier.
Edward’s title was reward for her tenacity and consistency, with Horn second and the heroic Daisy Mowat, who has just left the Nipper ranks, in third.
“We were all together trying to punch through the surf and I realised that this where I have to make a move,” said Edward afterwards.
“It is your own race. You have to stop thinking about everyone else and getting stressed out. You have to focus on yourself and making the least number of mistakes, which is what it all comes down to,” she said.
There was a rousing welcome for de Jager when she finally made it to the finish after her beating at the hands of the Indian Ocean.
“I am disappointed but at the same time I was excited to challenge these conditions, and I am so grateful I could just finish” said de Jager. “I am so proud of myself.”
Earlier in the day 19 year old Michael McGlynn came out of the surf first to claim the top step of the podium in the Surf Swim, with plucky 15 year old Tatum Botha winning the women’s equivalent.
In the new malibu board race George Edward powered clear with James Matthew to claim first and second ahead of the form athlete Connor Botha while Alice Edward added the women’s mailbu board race crown.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
ADreach OCEAN HEROES ENDURO – MEN
ADreach OCEAN HEROES ENDURO – WOMEN
4.Amika de Jager
ADreach OCEAN HEROES MALIBU BOARD RACE – MEN
ADreach OCEAN HEROES MALIBU BOARD RACE – WOMEN
ADreach OCEAN HEROES SURF SWIM – MEN
ADreach OCEAN HEROES SURF SWIM – WOMEN