Luke Nisbet, Buggered But Victorious In Port Elizabeth

Luke Nisbet, Buggered But Victorious In Port Elizabeth

In a a new twist on the sport of open water swimming, Michael Zoetmulder created quite an event at the MTN Nelson Mandela Bay Splash Festival in Port Elizabeth, South Africa this weekend. After hosting the inaugural Ocean Racing Series World Championships and the 7K Bell Buoy Challenge, a totally new event, the King of the Bay, featured an international field.

After going 2 for 2 in the previous races, Petar Stoychev was looking for a clean sweep of the South African events at the Splash Festival, but South African surf-lifesaver Luke Nisbet (shown above) drew upon some deep-seated South African pride and upset both the Bulgarian multiple world champion and top Australian competitor Andrew Mosel in the King of the Bay elimination event.

Under choppy conditions to his liking, the 24-year-old Durbanite dominated the unique five-round event against his foreign rivals. As Michael explains, “The first 20 finishers in the preceding Izani Siqubhe 1K ocean swim qualified for the feature race. Four competitors were eliminated in each of the four preliminary rounds of 400-meter sprints. The final four remaining swimmers then battled it out for the title and prize-money in the fifth and final round.”

Like boxers going toe-to-toe round after round, Petar’s two previous victories had taken a toll on Luke. But he came back strong on the last day and won three of the preliminary 400-meter swims and finished second in one to qualify for the final alongside Petar, Andrew and local swimmer Chris van der Sande.

In the final, Luke cam through as he finished ahead of Andrew, Petar and Chris in that order. “It is the first elimination race that I’ve ever done. It was so tough having to do five races in a row in these conditions, against this opposition. I was really buggered at the end. The beach run, both ways, was pretty vital. My tactic was to use it to my advantage over the pool swimmers and that, evidently, worked out well.”

In another upset of a world champion, Australia’s Candice Falzon (shown on left) won the first – and most importantly, the last – rounds of the women’s elimination heats. In the final 400-meter sprint, Candice beat fellow Australian and world 5K champion Melissa Gorman (shown below). Durban’s Michelle Eder took third.

I caught a good wave in the first round of the knock-out and in the following rounds I just made sure that I was comfortably placed,” said Candice, who led from start to finish. “I knew the other girls were stronger, so I used the beach run to my advantage. It was also important to catch the wave at the end of the final. I managed, but it broke right in front of Melissa and that was the difference.”

It was a good time had by all in one of the most unique open water swimming events on the global calendar.

In fact, there was so much fun to be had that Andrew and Luke ended up also competing in the paddle race at the Ocean Racing Series World Championships Malibu board category earlier in the competition.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones
Steven Munatones