I am smashing out a big one today. There is plenty on the go. So, swap the dumpie for a quart ...
WORLD SPRINT CHAMPS
Firstly, and most importantly, the World Sprint Championships is on the go "as we speak" in Duisburg, Germany.
We have a very small team of only 4 paddlers taking part. Chrisjan Coetzee had to withdraw at the last minute due to a broken ankle, leaving his K2 partner, NIc Weeks, in a vacuum.
Nic stepped up and paddled the K1 500m yesterday (which Chrisjan was meant to do). Unfortunately he finished a couple of places shy of making it through to the semifinals.
Henry van der Walt also finished 6th in his K1 200m heat, missing out on an opportunity to reach a semi-final.
Esti Olivier, on the other hand, had a great 500m K1 race, finishing in a comfortable 3rd place in her heat, in a time of 1min 53sec, which was almost the same time as the reigning Olympic Champion, Lisa Carrington. The fastest time recorded on the day was 1min 51sec.
Esti also finished third in a fast heat in the 200m and has progressed to the semi-finals there, with the heat times indicating she must have a great chance of earning a place in the 200m final.
Callum Davis finished seventh in his 1 000m K1 heat and that was enough to earn him a place in the B semi-final, while he will also be racing the 5 000m on Sunday.
The World Championships this year is the first opportunity for athletes to gain direct qualification for a quota spot for the Olympic Games next year.
Only 6 places are up for grabs in the women's K1 500m event at this regatta. Esti will need to qualify for the A final, or at least come in the top couple of places in the B final if she has any chance qualifying a spot. Considering her current form, this is a distinct possibility.
The event, which continues for the next couple of days, is being live streamed on the Recast platform – well worth a squiz.
WORLD MARATHON CHAMPS
The discipline where we have dominated, to some extent, over the past few decades is the marathon.
Our national marathon team, and a handful of masters paddlers, will be heading to Lake Jels, in Vejen, Denmark, later this week and early next week, to take part in the World Marathon Championships.
The masters K1 takes place on Monday and the K2 on Tuesday.
The main game starts on Thursday with the junior women's K1 and the short course races, for both senior men and women. Georgia Singe and Holly Smith will be our medal hopefuls in the junior K1, with Uli Hart, Clint Cook and Christie MacKenzie testing their speed in the short course.
If they still have some juice left in the tank, Georgia and Holly will have a second bite at the medal cherry on Friday in the junior K2. Later in the day, Uli and Matt Fenn will contest the U23 men's event, with Jade Wilson and Saskia Hockley getting on the water for the U23 women's race.
Saturday will definitely be a day to stay at home and glue yourself to the live streaming, with a feast of K1 racing, starting with the junior men's K1 (Zac Jacobs and Luke Salmon), followed by the women's K1 (Christie MacKenzie and Nix Birkett), and then our current world senior champion, as well as the current U23 world champion, taking on the world's best in the men's K1 event. Andy Birkett and Hamish Lovemore will have their work cut out against the hometown favourite Mads Pedersen, as well as a host of international stars.
Sunday is K2 day, kicking off with the junior men. Luke Salmon and Bruno Cochrane will team up with Jared Shrimpton and Ryley Smith to see if they can outwit and out paddle the opposition.
This will be followed by the women's K2, with the Christie MacKenzie/Michelle Burn combination seeking to stay in contention, together with the strong Eastern Cape pairing of Nix Birkett and Jade Wilson.
Historically, the most hectic group dynamic race will be reserved for the men's K2, being the last event on the program. Hamish Lovemore and Clint Cook will be made to dig deep if they wish to stay with the ever changing front group, as will Wayne Jacobs and Brad Boulle.
The event will be live streamed on Recast.
OLYMPIC HOPES SPRINT REGATTA
International events come thick and fast for our team members, as the Olympic Hopes Sprint Regatta kicks off the week after the marathon champs.
South Africa is sending a team of 20 young sprint hopefuls to Poznan, in Poland for this event, which runs from the 7-10 September.
The annual event is put together to expose young athletes, who have Olympic potential, to the rigours of international competition.
The end result is that it either shocks the hell out of the aspirant Olympians and causes them to throw their hands in the air and exit the discipline, or it lights a fire in them and helps them appreciate that their competitors are as human as they are, and that results can be achieved with self-determination and a bit of help.
FISH RIVER MARATHON
The international travelers will hardly have had time to get their laundry done when they get home, before they join the long convoy to Cradock, for this year's Fish River Marathon (and SA K2 Championships) on the 6-7 October. Fortunately the Fish does not clash with any major international event this year, and so the top paddlers will not have to make a difficult decision, and hopefully we will see the size field that warrants the time and effort that the local organising committee puts into hosting this iconic event. I will be heading down for my 33rd.
BREEDE RIVER MARATHON
On the local scene, the Western Cape has started the build up to the Breede River Marathon (9-10 September) with a number of races on the same river.
Those river paddlers from around the country who have never done a Breede before should really make a plan. It is one of the most beautiful and "rustig" races ever. Hot competition at the sharp end. Lots of wine and fun from there on.
DOLPHIN COAST EPIC
In KZN, one of the most popular surf ski races on the calendar, is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. The Dolphin Coast Epic will kick off from Durban on Saturday morning, with a predicted 5-metre swell guaranteed to make things exciting. Appeals on local WhatsApp groups to borrow skis have gone unanswered.
Interesting events that have taken place over the past couple of weeks include the Sella Descent in Spain. We had 3 really strong crews on the Le Mans type start line. Hamish Lovemore with Hank McGregor, Andy Birkett with Uli Hart and the least likely to pull off a result, the brothers Fenn (Matt and Josh).
Considering that both Hamish and Andy are both reigning world marathon champions, and that Hank has 13 world marathon titles, coupled with the fact that South Africans are the best river marathon paddlers in the world, one would have thought that the SA flag would have been draped all over the podium.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. Our boys got their clocks cleaned. Hank had boat and paddle issues (caused by a faulty clamping system at the start), and never really managed to get going after that. I have not had a chance to chat to either Uli or Andy. Our only crew left on the front bunch at the finish were the ski paddlers from Slummies, who paddled a tenacious race. Ironically the dynamic Dane, Mads Pedersen and his partner suffered the same fate, being spat out the back after the start and never managing to get back. Maybe we should arrange a sponsorship and bring them all out to the Fish.
The Sella is a unique race with a lottery of a start. Having said that, it is strange that, as a nation, we have boasted so many world medalists on flat water over the past few years, but have failed to pull off a victory, recently, in a race where we should be completely dominant.
As a collective, however, the Saffers did win the team prize. So we do have some boasting rights.
That’s all for this week.
I am off to Denmark tomorrow but will try to send you a missive from amongst the Vikings.