5 May 2022 View online

Hi {name},

What a frenetic past two weeks it has been. And it is not over yet.

Three national title events within 10 days, incorporating national selection for three world championships. A further national selection taking place this weekend, together with two provincial championships. And all in the fairest Cape.

Where to start???

The Lomond Wine Estate dam, near Gansbaai, was the scene for the SA Schools and SA Sprint championships, held over the 22 - 24 April.

The venue had been untested as a sprint destination but the local organising committee rose to the challenge and put together a fantastic competition.

Racing was fast and furious as the standard 1000m, 500m and 200m distances were paddled , as well as the exciting 5000m K1 and K2. See the full results here.

Marathon star Hamish Lovemore surprised most of the sprinters by winning both the 1000m and the 5000m relatively easily.

There were also winning performances from Esti Olivier, Chrisjan Coetzee, Bridgitte Hartley, Saskia Hockly, and Luke Salmon, amongst others.

The results of the event was used to select 3 separate teams. Namely, the senior sprint team, the junior and U23 team, and the team to compete at the Olympic hopes regatta.

Only one team has been announced so far and that is the senior team that will be competing at the world championships in Halifax, Canada from the 3rd to the 7th of August.

The team will consist of Bridgitte Hartley, Esti Olivier, Chrisjan Coetzee, Mark Keeling and Callam Davis.  

The selectors are still labouring over the teams for the other 2 events.

Just 2 days after the completion of the sprint events, the surfski paddlers took to the water to do battle for the SA double ski crown.

Cape Town showed off in spectacular fashion, with sublime conditions for the epic race around the notorious Robben Island.

The men's race unfolded into a 3 boat break away, which included the combinations of Andy Birkett/Nic Notten, Hank McGregor/Joshua Fenn and the Mocke brothers, Jasper and Dawid. Andy and Nic proved too strong over the last few kilometres, beating off the previous winning combination of Hank and Josh by around 13 seconds, with a similar gap between them and the Mocke brothers. The women's race proved to be far more exciting with a sprint finish between Bridgitte Hartley/Pippa McGregor and Kira Bester/Jade Wilson being narrowly won by the more "experienced" and aged combination.

Just 4 days later many of the same paddlers lined up to determine who would carry the title of SA single ski champion for the next year, and who would represent South Africa at the World Ocean Racing Championships in Portugal in October. The race organisers set up a course with a few kilometres of headwind, followed by a classic downind into the finish at Fish Hoek. The old man of the sea, Hank McGregor taught a few of the youngsters a few tricks, walking away with the gold medal, ahead of locals Kenny Rice and current world champion, Nic Notten. The women's race was a tight affair up to the turn can. The downwind section saw locals Melanie Van Niekerk and Kira Bester nudge out world champion Michelle Burn to secure the top two steps of the podium. Uli Hart and Kira Bester won the respective U23 titles with Saskia Hockly and Luke Le Roux taking home the junior accolades.

The official national team has been announced. It consists of: Senior Men - Hank McGregor, Nic Notten, Kenny Rice, Jasper Mocke, Mark Keeling. Senior Women - Melanie Van Niekerk, Michelle Burn, Nix Birkett, Bianca Beavitt, Candice Murray. U23 Men - Uli Hart, Josh Fenn. U23 Women - Kira Bester, Jade Wilson. Junior boys - Luke Le Roux, Josh Smith. Junior girls - Saskia Hockly, Holly Smith.

The team selection will purely be for the award of national colours, as the ICF announced this morning that the world championships for 2022 will be held as an open event, with no limitation on the number of paddlers from an country.

This weekend will see the hosting of two provincial marathon championships. Both the Western Cape and Gauteng will have events that will determine championship boasting rights for the next year. The Western Cape championships will, however, have slightly more significance, as it is being used as the selection event to choose the single man and woman who will represent the country at the World Games, which is to be held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, in mid-July. The trial, as well as the event, will have competitors racing over the classic marathon distances, as well as a "short course" event. All indications are that the tour will be fully funded, which is a welcome change to the "self-funded" norm that our paddlers have become accustomed to.

The weekend after this, KZN will be hosting their provincial marathon championships at the same venue as the national championships will be held a month later.

Perhaps this year will be the year where the masses of paddlers appreciate that marathon paddling is not just the domain of the elite who wish to make national teams. It is a really fun way to improve your racing skills, whilst racing your mates, at whatever level.

I implore all paddlers to support their provincial championships and to prepare themselves for a really exciting South African Championships at the beautiful Hazelmere dam next month.

As all of you, who don't live under a rock, will be aware, the World Marathon Championships is being held in Portugal this year, at the end of September. It will be followed by the World Surfski Championships the week after, about a 40 minute drive from the marathon venue. In this country, there is a large cross over between canoeing and surfski paddling. The majority of our paddlers do both, irrespective of their preference.

So, there are a number of reasons why you should be raiding the family inheritance and committing to the trip. Firstly, it is probably one of the only times where you will have the opportunity to experience two world championships for the price of one. Secondly, it will be one of the only times where other members of a paddling family will be able to enter a world championships, as the ICF Ocean Racing Championships is an open event this year (nobody needs to be in a team).

Thirdly, Portugal is a beautiful place (steer clear of Vila de Conde - Oscar lives there). Accommodation is very reasonable (the team is staying at a hotel on the beach for around eu62 per night with breakfast and dinner). Masters and the national team are staying in the same hotel. Beers are cheap and cold. Lastly, we need to ensure that as many  medals as possible come back with us.

The masters contingent have appointed Elandrie Zietsman as their unofficial team manager. She has been doing a sterling job in co ordinating travel and accommodation arrangements. If you would like to plug into the system, contact her ElandrieZ@ncsresins.com . We are fast approaching the magic 100 masters competitors on tour. Don't be the twit that gets left behind because you sat on the fence for too long. Travelling to the event in an Uber, from your B&B, 5km from the hotel will be no fun while your mates are all in the team shuttle from the team hotel.

On a more nostalgic note. I received a mail last week from an 80 year old ex South African, who now lives in the UK, Paul Hebblethwaite.

Whilst he was still at school, he and a couple of his mates decided to spend their school holidays paddling down the Caledon and Orange rivers, in the hopes of completing the 700 mile trip to Upington in homemade wooden boats. His story is right here. It is quite a read.

In an age where our darlings get rushed off to an orthopedic surgeon, a physiotherapist and a sports psychologist when the graze their knee, this tale provides some perspective of the adventurous spirit and the capacity for hardship that kids of previous generations had.

It is something that I lamented in a newsletter last month when the entry to the Umko was so poor.

The smart phone is a magical device. It is, however, allowing our kids to live their lives through others and depriving them of the opportunity to seek their own adventures.

The Marine winter series kicks off in Durban this weekend. Another exciting buildup of races towards the iconic Scottburgh to Brighton in July.

Have a great weekend.
Your SG

And the joke:
A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity.
John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to 'clean up' the bird's vocabulary.
Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot, using similar profanity. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot. The parrot became even angrier and even more rude. John, in desperation, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute.
Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said:
"I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable Behaviour." John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude.
As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic
change in his Behaviour, the bird spoke-up, very softly:
"May I ask what the turkey did?"


Modify your subscription    |    View online
Facebook Twitter Instagram