It’s an unprecedented week of national championships this week as the country’s best marathon paddlers and surfski paddlers converge on St Francis with a strong squad of Western Cape paddlers making the trip up the coast to challenge for national surfski and marathon honours.
The three days of racing at the P.W Harvey & Carey Olsen St Francis Paddle Fest 2020 will consist of the SA S1 championships at the China Silver Asset Management SA Surfski Championships sponsored by the World Surfski League on Saturday 10 October, and the SA Marathon Championships on 11 and 12 October.
The Western Cape contingent is going to be a strong one for both the surfski showdown as well as the marathon contests and surfski ace Kenny Rice is excited by the prospect that this weekend’s racing poses given the recent lockdown.
“We’ve been able to see what each other has been doing on Strava which is strange and you can sort of gauge yourself off that,” Rice said. “But otherwise it’s going to be a very interesting few days of racing.
“Having back-to-back racing is going to be another interesting element for a lot of paddlers but I think it’s not a bad thing having it like that.
“It’s really going to kick-start competition given how long paddlers have been away from racing for.”
Rice will have a tough field to compete against at the single surfski championship with the likes of Hank McGregor, Jasper Mocké and Nick Notten in the mix. It’s going to be an exciting race that he is looking forward to given the relative unknown of the course.
“I remember I paddled there are a youngster quite a lot but I am not sure what to expect now to be honest.
“The courses to Jeffery’s Bay and back look tough and I know that Jasper (Mocké) knows that bit of ocean like the back of his hand.
“That’s going to make him very difficult to beat this weekend and I know he likes to play down his chances but he will be a really strong contender.
“I’m just hoping that we can get a downwind!”
Rice is one of the very few paddlers that will be hoping to complete the triple in the single ski race following wins in the Junior and Under 23 categories previously.
Looking at the potential showdown in the marathon racing, Rice isn’t playing up his chances but knows that there will be a strong challenge from his fellow Western Cape paddlers.
“I am definitely going to be on the start line for the K1 race but I am not a runner so I am looking forward to being a bit of a spectator.
“Nick Notten and Uli Hart have been going unbelievably well in their K2 and will be strong contenders.
“Nick will also be a strong contender for the K1 title. I just love racing against him (Notten) because he looks like he is really hurting and then on the next lap he will recover and give you a hiding!”
Not only is Rice excited by the senior provincial talent heading to the Eastern Cape, he’s looking forward to seeing the younger paddlers take to the water.
“Our squad is also taking a big contingent of guppies to St Francis,” he said. “This is very exciting and it’s going to be great to watch them and support them before they watch the senior racing.”