SA Schools Champs: Kenny Rice and Kirsten Flanagan

Saturday, 16 March 2013 10:40 | Written by  Gameplan Media
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Kirsten Flanagan - under 18 girls' champion Kirsten Flanagan - under 18 girls' champion Credits: Anthony Grote (

Durban – The tenth and final leg of the Varsity College Marine Surfski Series, the Varsity College Surfski Challenge, saw Hank McGregor and Michelle Burn bring down the curtain on what has been stellar individual series whilst Cape Town based junior sensations Kenny Rice and Kirsten Flanagan left their mark on the Varsity College SA Schools Surfski Champs as they claimed the under 18 boys and girls titles respectively.

Hank the Tank Dominates... again

Having each enjoyed commanding performances throughout, series defending champs Hank McGregor (Team Best 4 Kayak Centre) and Michelle Burn (Team Jeep) showed their superiority over the rest of the field as they claimed wins number six and five respectively, which hands McGregor yet another series title however for Burn it was so close yet so far as she ended the ten-leg contest one result short of retaining her overall title.

Hank McGregor

Hank MacGregor took his 6th win

Michelle Burn


Michelle Burn had to work her way through the field after a mishap in the surf at the start

McGregor, having suffered his first second place finish in years midway through the series, charged out of the blocks with a point to prove as he went after yet another race victory in order to make the six results required for the series standings all first place finishes.

The giant of a man, Matt Bouman, dug deep to hang onto McGregor’s wave throughout however a solid first lap from the overall victor left Bouman with too much to do in the closing stages forcing him to settle for second place on the day, a result that was however enough to secure the Umhlanga based ace second place in the overall standings with Varsity College student Grant van der Walt (Team Best 4 Kayak Centre) rounding out the top three.

Women's Race

For Burn it was a particularly tough day at the office as she was forced to claw her way back from a disastrous start which saw he fall out of her ski midway through clearing the surf at the start of the race, leaving her to swim back to the beach to retrieve her ski and handing her rivals a massive advantage from the outset.

However the classy Toti based athlete brushed off the mishap and, with motivation levels at an all-time high, obliterated the deficit and caught Nikki Russell, who had led proceedings for most of the race, just meters before the finish line and managed to out sprint the Varsity College student up the beach to finish first.

SA Schools

Despite the world class action at the front of the clash much of the large crowd’s attention was however on the younger members of the field as the country’s top junior talent tackled the eight kilometer Varsity College SA Schools Surfski Champs.

In the under 18 boys race pre-race favourite and defending champion Kenny Rice surged to the front of the field early on and once he got a sniff of victory he took complete control of proceedings and powered ahead of the rest, finishing three and a half minutes ahead of his nearest rival.

 Kenny Rice

Kenny Rice - totally dominating the under 18s

The Bergvliet High School youngster has put in some remarkable performances in the twelve months since his first title effort in 2012 which have seen him regularly mixing it up with some of the country’s top senior open ocean paddlers.

“Coming into the race I was pretty nervous because there was a lot of pressure on me with everyone saying that I was the favourite and I really prefer being the underdog,” said Rice.

“I turned around the first can third but was soon at the front with Gene (Prato) and one other but when I turned to Gene to say it was his turn to pull I realized I was on my own. Gene had fallen back a bit and had gone quite a bit closer to the shore so I decided to push as hard as I could from then on.

“Once I got ahead of the rest of the guys I just tried to focus on not letting Hank (McGregor) and the rest of the senior guys catch me so I just kept pushing the entire way to the finish.

“I’m really stoked with the win, especially having won last year’s title in some controversial circumstances, so it feels great to be able to win one properly this time!

Gene Prato

Durban's Gene Prato - second in the under 18s

Despite having no answers to Rice’s dominance, a performance which also earned him a R40 000 bursary to Varsity College for the performance of the champs, Gene Prato (Glenwood High) put the rest of the field into a similar position to the one he found himself in as he stormed ahead of his chasers to claim a comfortable second place ahead of regular local rival Calvin McKie (Clifton College).

Under 18 Girls

The under 18 girls battle was certainly one to remember as school mates, best friends, regular doubles partners and permanent single ski rivals Kirsten Flanagan and Amy Hare (both Springfield Convent, Cape Town) resumed the contest they started in 2012 – which saw Hare claim victory by the smallest of margins after an end sprint up the beach – only this time it was the other way round as Flanagan made the top step of the podium her own.

With very difficult North Easterly conditions prevailing Flanagan got the early advantage and the talented young star soon opened up a slight gap over Hare through the early part of the first of two laps.

Disaster nearly struck late on the opening loop though as Flanagan found herself stranded deep out to sea after her rudder hooked onto the shark nets, leaving her floundering and unable to paddle on.

Kirsten Flanagan

Kirsten Flanagan had some admin crossing the shark nets

“I thought that was my race over right there,” explained an animated Flanagan. “I was just about to jump off my ski to get my rudder free when somehow it just came free on its own.”

“Fortunately I had a bit of a gap over Amy (Hare) at that stage so I was still in the lead when I finally got going again but from that point onwards I decided to just push as hard as I could.

“I’ve been working pretty hard since last year’s race so I was really well prepared coming into the race this year and I’m really glad it seems to all have paid off.

The under 16 boys race saw Wynberg Boys’ High youngster Jonah Paarman claim his age group’s national schools title, signaling his entry as a competitive surfski paddler nationally whilst the under 16 girls title was won by surfski novice Anya Botes (Hoërskool Centruion) who made the trip down from Pretoria for the clash.

Final Prize Giving

The tenth and final race of the 2013 Varsity College Marine Surfski Series brought down the curtain on what has been a hugely successful summer series with just the series final prize giving left to be staged. This takes place at Billy the Bums at 18h30 on Tuesday 19 March and all are encouraged to attend. 

More info can be found at

Kenny Rice

Kenny Rice



Under 18 Boys

  1. Kenny Rice (Bergvliet High) 34.24
  2. Gene Prato (Glenwood High) 38.01
  3. Calvin McKie (Clifton College) 38.35

Under 18 Girls

  1. Kirsten Flanagan (Springfield Convent) 42.45
  2. Amy Hare (Springfield Convent) 44.08
  3. Savannah van Rooyen (Kloof High) 53.00

Under 16 Boys

  1. Jonah Paarman (Wynberg Boys' High) 42.39
  2. Tristan Wilson (DHS) 45.05
  3. Brett Wilken (Glenwood High) 47.42

Under 16 Girls

  1. Anya Botes (Hoërskool Centurion) 1:06.31

Varsity College Marine Surfski Series



Singles – Overall

  1. Hank McGregor 33.10
  2. Matt Bouman 33.22 
  3. Grant van der Walt 34.10
  4. Adam Nisbet 35.50 
  5. Murray Smith 37.59
  6. Greg Worthington 38.10
  7. Dirk van den Berg 38.48
  8. Clyde Barendse 39.26
  9. Konrad Karcz 39.53
  10. Dillan Hold 40.56

Singles – Women

  1. Michelle Burn 42.56
  2. Nikki Russell 43.00
  3. Danica Bartho 43.18

Daryl and Brett Bartho

The Bartho Brothers smashed the doubles field, winning by over four minutes

Doubles – Overall

  1. Daryl Bartho/Brett Bartho 32.54
  2. Gavin Searle/Mark Johnson 37.03
  3. Wayne Ashford/Steve Atkinson 38.08


Singles – Overall

  1. Richard Huber 22.11
  2. Jody Taylor 22.41
  3. Tim Drummond 24.20

Doubles – Overall

  1. Byron McKie/Irvin Dixon 18.54
  2. Luke Chalupsky/Mark Spencer 20.33
  3. Trent Baird/Sandile Shange 24.04

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