Birkett finally bags King of the Bay

Andy Birkett turns for the finish in the Bay Union King of the Bay on Sunday. PHOTO: Kevin Sawyer/Gameplan Media

DUSI champ Andy Birkett added the Bay Union King of the Bay title to his impressive CV as he took full advantage of the mild winter weather on Sunday to bag the 22km race that slipped through his fingers last year.

“There was a big group of paddlers together as we got out of the harbour, including last year’s winner Brandon van der Walt. He tried to make a break in the small swell with Matt Bouman, but once we were out in the ocean we all spread out. Matt (Bouman) went deep, I was in the middle and Brandon chose a shallower line. I managed to get a little gap on Matt, but he used his skill in the ocean and caught me just before the turning buoy. I managed to get away from him again after the turn. I think the conditions suited me a bit more than Matt, but it was an awesome day to be out on the ocean,” said Birkett, who lost last year’s title to Van der Walt with his bungled portage up the beach to the finish line.

The women’s race was won by Olympic medallist Bridgitte Hartley against a heavily depleted women’s singles field.

“We had flat conditions very similar to last year, but it was quite fun once we got outside the harbour mouth there was a little bit of a swell, and you could catch some bumps. I was just trying to put my head down to catch boats ahead of me, and when we turned I raced a guy in a single for the last two or three kilometres,” said Hartley,” she said.

With Hayley Nixon away in Hawaii for the Molokai, the small women’s field saw Sabina Lawrie secure the runners up berth.

The competitive double ski race fell to the on-form youngsters Hamish Lovemore and Clint Cook, with the women’s crew of Donna Winter and Kerry Segal finishing a credible seventh overall.

 

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