Six-time ICF Canoe Marathon World Champion, Hank McGregor and his good friend and training partner, Lee Furby hope to put in a strong challenge for this year’s Gara Dolphin Coast Challenge crown when the two day surfski race on KwaZulu-Natal’s North Coast takes place on 20 and 21 August.
With the 2016 KZN Doubles Surfski Championships title also up for grabs, this year’s edition of the Suncoast Pirates Surf Lifesaving Club hosted event promises to be another hard-fought affair as the province’s top doubles crews battle it on the testing stretch of coastline between Zinkwazi, Salt Rock and Pirates clubhouse in the Durban Bay.
While McGregor’s record speaks for itself, Furby remains a self-proclaimed social paddler, making their pairing a somewhat curious combination.
Despite their unlikely paddling partnership though, McGregor and Furby have produced some confidence-boosting victories together in recent times, both on the ocean and the river.
“We’ve had a few nice races together and I think our record stands at four or five firsts and one second place, so not too bad at all,” laughs Furby.
“We’ve won the Hella Hella river race on the Umkomaas, the Bay Union Doubles Race, the Shaka Challenge in Richards Bay, the Pre-Dusi race at Kingfisher Canoe Club and one or two others as well as finishing second to Barry Lewin and Aussie Brendan Rice at the Mouth2Mouth last year.”
Already neighbours, good friends, travel buddies and paddling partners, McGregor and Furby recently broadened their partnership into the business world when they joined Ken and Sharon Holden as partners at Gara Racing Paddles.
While primarily focused on having a good time together in their ski, Gara’s recent confirmation as new title sponsorship of the Dolphin Coast Challenge will undoubtedly spark added fire in the pair’s bellies should they find themselves in the hunt for victory.
“Hank is an absolute machine and you could pretty much put anyone else in the back of the boat with him and you’d be competitive and in with a chance of winning,” laughs Furby.
“It would be lovely for Hank and I to win the Dolphin Coast this year if we could, so long as we have fun along the way though!
“We’ve developed quite a handy little record in the few races that we have done together recently but I’m fortunate in that Hank never puts me under any pressure to push for a result.
“Enjoying ourselves out on the ocean is the main thing and if the results happen to come our way too then that’s great.”
Paddlers interested in participating in the 2016 Gara Dolphin Coast Challenge must enter pre-enter before 17 August’s 17h00 deadline with early entrants to receive a race shirt compliments of Gara Racing Paddles and Citadel.
Registration takes place at Suncoast Pirates Surf Lifesaving Club’s clubhouse on Durban’s beachfront from 16h00-18h00 on Friday 19 August.
The Gara Dolphin Coast Challenge takes place on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 August.