With arguably the strongest ladies field ever, the 2018 FNB Surfski Series will see the cream of the South Africa's women ocean racers go head-to-head over the exciting ten race series starting on Friday, 12 January at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club.

With two consecutive titles in the past two years, Hayley Nixon will be taking the 2018 series less seriously which opens the door, potentially, for a new series winner. 

"We have seen the depth of ladies surfski paddling grow over the years and that is exactly what we want," Nixon expressed.

"More and more people from different paddling disciplines are seeing surfski paddling as great cross training which is drawing ladies to the sport."

There is always an excitement around the opening race of a series and for many of the ladies involved race one will be an opportunity to get early season points and a head start on the series log.

For Michelle Burn, 2018 will be another opportunity to continue where she left off in 2017, however with commitments at home taking centre stage she will have to pick her races carefully.

"Oliver sacrificed a lot for me in 2017 and was the stay-at-home dad, so I could race as hard as possible, so this year it is my turn to support him," Burn chuckled.

"I will definitely take part if conditions are good but this year I am going to be on the bank supporting!"

Despite Burn and Nixon not focusing entirely on their racing this year the depth in ladies surfski paddling means that there will be a number of other women that will be hoping to claim a prestigious FNB Surfski Series title.

The likes of young Kyeta Purchase, former Under 23 Ocean Racing World Champion Jenna Ward as well as recently converted surfski paddler Bridgitte Hartley could all be vying for the overall title.

In order to be amongst the final prizes paddlers must complete at least six of the ten races in the series.

Jenna Ward, who will be partnering up with Hungarian marathon star Vanda Kiszli for the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon, is confident that this year will be another exciting year for the ladies.

"My focus is on the Dusi but I will definitely be getting involved wherever I can whether it be in a single or a double.

"I will just play it by ear but I love the series and really want to be paddling as much as I can," she commented.

Brad Guymer, the Senior Marketing Manager Sponsorships at FNB said, "FNB Business is proud to once again be the title sponsor of the FNB Marine Surfski Series in 2018. 

"FNB Business wishes all the paddlers the best of luck as they embark on the upcoming 10 race series."

Race one of the 2018 FNB Surfski Series, the FNB Surfski Challenge, takes place on Friday, 12 January at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club.

More information can be found at www.marineseries.co.za.

Nick Tatham

Canoe Ocean Racing