Firstly I must appologise for the lack of news, running a factory, training again and being Mom leaves little time for much else, but I have made a promise to keep you all more up to date with the goings on at Orka Paddles and Pete's Orka Training Squad, so here is the first installment.

This weekend a wealth of top junior surfski talent from around the country is headed for Durban’s shores as school pupils from the Western and Eastern Cape look to tackle KwaZulu-Natal’s finest ocean paddlers at the 2012 Varsity College SA Schools Surfski champs.

Into its third year of existence the champs continue to grow from strength to strength and, after rigid regional trials, this year’s event sees the twelve top youngsters from the Orka Training Squad in Cape Town, together with elite juniors from Port Elizabeth and surrounds, making the journey to the eastern coastline.

Amongst the Cape storm is 2011 defending champ Dominic Notten (Wynberg Boys’ High) who is determined to hold onto the title he worked so hard for last year, regional trials winner Kenny Rice (Bergvliet High), Craig Flanagan (SACS) and his younger sister Kirsten.

“Hopefully I can hang onto my title again this year but last year’s race was really tight and I think this year’s race is going to be even closer!” said Notten. “The competition at the Western Cape interschools race was really tough and things were a lot closer so I’m sure it’s going to be really tough this weekend.”

“I had SA lifesaving champs last weekend which I had worked really hard for and did a lot of training towards plus I’ve done a lot of paddling since last year’s race so we’ll just have to see how things go,” he added.

Rice, younger brother of surfski ace Sean Rice, has grown immensely as a paddler since his previous trip to the champs where he claimed bronze, and will be looking to do everything in his power to ensure he is across the line first, just as he did in the Western Cape trials a few weeks ago.

Jordan Zeelie (Grey High) will lead the Eastern Cape charge and having just been pipped by Notten on the line in 2011 he will be eager to go one better this time around.

KZN stars Calvin McKie (Clifton College), Gene Prato (Glenwood High) and Travis Wilson (Maritzburg College) have enjoyed some incredibly hard fought affairs throughout the Varsity College Marine Surfski Series with numerous races only being decided in the final few metres.

The trio of talented hometown lads are determined to put in a strong bid for victory in their own backyard as well as put their hand up for the R40000 bursary as part of the Varsity College Sport Life programme to be awarded to the performance of the championship.

In the girls race Toti youngster Kerry Segal (Kingsway High) has dominated proceedings in the previous two contests, however 2012 promises to be a far closer affair as Kirsten Flanagan, Jodi Cleworth and regional winner Amy Hare (All Springfield Senior) head to Durban confident and in good form after a strong Cape season.

“I went to world marathon champs in Singapore with both Kirsten (Flanagan) and Jodi (Cleworth) so I know them well and know how strong they can be but I really want to defend my title again so I’m determined not to let them beat me,” said Segal.

“If I can get through the surf cleanly then I’m confident I will be able to get ahead of the rest of them but a lot comes down to the start and finish in the waves and if you come unstuck there it can be your race over.”

“I haven’t spent huge amounts of time in the sea but I had SA lifesaving champs last weekend and I’ve been working really hard this past week so I’m feeling good. My win in the ladies race at the last Varsity College Marine Surfski Series race also gave me a lot of confidence so hopefully I can now build on that,” she added.

The Varsity College SA Schools Surfski Champs, part of race ten of the Varsity College Marine Surfski Series, takes place at Addington Beach in Durban on Friday 30 March at 17h30.
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