Michele Eray eyes Durban World Cup

Wednesday, 22 June 2011 19:37 | Written by  Gameplan Media
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Michele Eray comes into the finish of the 2010 event Michele Eray comes into the finish of the 2010 event Credits: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

Durban – Olympian Michéle Eray jets into Durban this week with a fierce determination to erase the nightmare of 2010 by winning the Dunlop Surfski World Cup title that slipped through her fingers last year.

Eray was locked in a duel with Capetonian Nikki Mocke and seemed to have the race well in her control as they neared the finish at Winklespruit, only to see Mocke scamper up the beach ahead of her to claim the women’s purse.

“I have dissected that race so many times to work out what went wrong,” says Eray. “I was trying to stick to a shallow line but the coast curves into the bay near the finish. Then I tried to go out and I think I hit a head current. Either way in the end there was a massive gap between myself and Nikki (Mocke).”

Nikki Mocke

Nikki Mocke won the 2010 Durban World Cup

Eray, like men’s star Hank McGregor, is focusing her energy on training for the Windhoek Berg river canoe marathon, and has been spending most of her training time in a kayak instead of her surfski. “Actually my K1 feels a lot like my Nelo ski, so I am not unhappy about where I am.”

In all Eray has experienced each of the three steps on the podium at the Durban Surfski World Cup. She was well beaten into third place in the inaugural event in 2006, romped home to win at Westbrook beach in 2009 and then finished second in 2010. 

Michele Eray

Eray on the way to winning the 2009 Durban World Cup

Eray is always pushing the envelope and championing equality for women in paddling, and surfski is no different.

“It is so difficult for the top girls in a race like the World Cup because we get seeded in a back batch and we race through the field. In no time at all we are not only mixed up with guys from other batches but we also have no idea where the other girls are in the race.”

“One day, maybe one day, we will be allowed to start thirty minutes ahead of the guys in our own batch, and race purely against each other. I hope it happens during my time,” she muses.

While she is happy to race the old format of a tough 32km leg, she sees the new shortened 26km format is making for more exciting racing.

“It will be fun!” she enthuses. “It will be a lot tighter and there will be a closer bunch of girls together at the finish if the race is shorter which will be exciting.”

Apart from her perennial colleague and good friend Nikki Mocké, she predicts several others being in the dice for the beach finish on Sunday afternoon.

“Watch out for Ruth Highman from Perth. She enjoys a good downwind. Also I am sure Michelle Eder and Tiffany Kruger will be strong from their sprint training, and Donna Winter is really fit.”

Ruth Highman & Michele Eray

Ruth Highman & Michele Eray competed in the Dubai Shamaal in Dec 2010 (Eray won)

The Dunlop Surfski World Cup takes place on Sunday 26 June from Marine SLC at Addington beach.

More info can be found at www.surfski.co.za

Dunlop Surfski World Cup

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