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Capetonian hoping for bad weather in Durban this weekend

Cape Town’s Kira Bester is hoping for some bad weather as she prepares to defend her South African Surfski Championship title in Durban this weekend.

Bester claimed the 2023 women’s title with a convincing win at the Biogen Pete Marlin Surfski Race in East London in November.

Defending champion hopes wind picks up in Durban

Bester is hoping for some unpredicted wind to arrive over the weekend to help her title defence.

“I think I’ve got mixed emotions about the SA Champs because it looks like it is not exactly ideal conditions for me,” said the Team Euro Steel paddler.

“I was hoping for more wind, but most of my training has been flat water so I am fine if it is flat-water conditions.”

The weather predictions of a cool day with a gentle breeze for Saturday is ideal for the Springbok v Ireland rugby test at King’s Park Stadium, but less exciting for the country’s top surfski paddlers who will be battling for SA titles off the coast.

“The singles championship race is scheduled for Saturday and the doubles titles will be decided on Sunday.

“My build up has been really good so I’m feeling confident,” said Bester. “The training has been going well and I’ve been improving. All my times for the 2000m distances have been improving streadily, so I feel I am on a steady rise … I feel good and I cannot complain about anything.”

Test event

This first-time race is being used as a test event for the World Championships which will be held in Durban in 2025 on the same course, and Bester, the current U23 World Champion, will be using it as part of her long-term build up as she aims to win a senior World Championships title.

“The Euro Steel Team has really made an effort and Graham (Daniel – the team manager) has tried to get all the people that don’t live in Durban to be able to do the course beforehand. He is trying to prepare us for next year’s World Champs as well as the competition this weekend, so we have a training camp late in the week and we’re going to do the course and the top local paddlers are going to show us the way.

“But at the same time it is also quite nerve-racking because it’s not our home ground, so the KZN paddlers are obviously going to have that advantage over us … but I suppose in the long run we will all have that advantage over the other international people next year.”

The big threats

And who does Bester see as her the biggest threats to taking the SA title away from her?

“So if it’s flat or just a very gentle wind I’m probably going to be looking at a lot of the girls, because they all really, really strong when it comes to flat-water grinding. But especially people like Jade (Wilson) and Nikki (Birkett), as well as people like Georgia (Singe) and Michelle (Burn) … but there will be a lot of others as well – like Saskia (Hockly).

“However, if there is a little bit of a technical aspect to it and it is a bit of a downwind race, then I am really only stressed about Michelle, and the other person would probably be Melanie (van Niekerk ) … I think they are probably the best downwind paddlers.”

In the doubles race scheduled for Sunday, Bester will be teaming up with Van Niekerk and the pairing look likely to be tough to beat.

Should amateur athletes get more SASCOC support?

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