The country’s top lifeguards, lifesavers and all-round athletes will be making some serious waves at this year’s Red Bull Beach Patrol contest taking place at Durban’s North Beach on Sunday, 10 December. These athletes will be pushed to their limits as they compete against Durban’s best lifeguards in a series of swim, paddleboard and surfski disciplines, with only the toughest pushing through the qualifiers to the final round.
Westville’s Luke Nisbet (32) will be defending his title this year, having also placed in the top three of the inaugural Red Bull Beach Patrol in 2015. Nisbet is on top form, finishing fifth in this year’s Pete Marlin Surfski Race and is currently battling it out in the Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back Surfski Series.
“I’ve been racing so I think the surfski leg will be my strongest for Red Bull Beach Patrol,” said Nisbet, a Suncoast Pirates Surf Lifesaving Club member. “It’s such a good test of endurance because it’s a bit longer than the usual ironman. I also really enjoy how it incorporates the piers and finishes off with the run.”
Nisbet will certainly have to performing at the top of his game if he’s going to beat out La Lucia’s Wade Krieger (35) again. The Durban Surf Lifesaving Club member came second in the 2016 main race as well as the three qualifying races leading up to it. Krieger is also a three-time South African Ironman champion, three-time surf-swim champion, two-time Midmar Mile age group champion and a South African Board Champion. For the past decade, Krieger has been in Australia racing against the best ironman competitors in the world.
Verulam’s Mthembeni Mkhize (32), from uMhlanga Rocks Surf Lifesaving Club, missed out on last year’s race because he was working so he’s keen to prove himself at the 2017 edition. “This year I’m looking to going as hard as I can. I’m hoping to complete all the events to the best of my ability. For training I’m running at the moment and doing a lot of cardio. I’m focusing on the paddleski and swimming, which happens to be my worst leg of the race.”
Mkhize has placed in the top three of several long-distance surfski paddle events as well as competing in numerous lifesaving championships countrywide. He holds the 2017 trophy for the uMhlanga Rocks Surf Lifesaving Club’s top surfski paddler as well as the 2015 ‘Most Improved Surfski Paddler’ trophy for the Varsity College Surfski Challenge.
“The Red Bull Beach Patrol course looks really interesting,” continued Mkhize. “Running onto the pier and competing in the various obstacles. It’s real endurance, not just for those in aquatic sports, but like naval training! You have to be tough and you have to be an all-rounder.”
The event’s Sportive Director, Barry Lewin, said he was excited to watch these truly South African heroes showing their skill in this uniquely-designed, spectator-friendly course. “I feel that the sea will be the biggest factor on the day, testing the athletes’ endurance and spirit. At the end of the day, Durban’s North Beach is going to decide who is worthy for the championship place on 10 December and I really encourage anyone in the area to come and watch the action!”
The Red Bull Beach Patrol is open to any willing participants although a fair level of athleticism in the arenas of swimming, paddleboarding and surski is required to make it through the qualifying rounds. To enter, visit www.redbull.co.za/beachpatrol