One of the country’s most anticipated canoeing event is coming up this weekend as the best marathon paddlers in the country head to the Peninsula Canoe Club at Zandvlei in Cape Town for the three-day South African Canoe Marathon Championships starting on Friday.
Racing at the venue that hosted the ICF Marathon World Championships in 1998, some of the world’s best paddlers will fight it out for national titles and a spot on the South African squad to compete in the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championship in Romania.
All races are set to be exciting affairs with the junior and Under 23 K1 racing getting the action under way on Friday in what are expected to be tough conditions after a cold front moved through Cape Town.
The entry for the junior boy’s K1 race is a big one with paddlers from all over the country hoping to book one of the two spots on the national team for the World Championships.
Young SA Surfski team member Dyllan Farrell and Josh Simpkins will line up against established marathon aces Matthew Millward and Jack Edmonds, amongst a large group of schoolboys hungry for a place on the podium.
2020’s break-out star Saskia Hockly leads the charge in the junior girls K1 race but will have her work cut out for her with the likes of Melonie Croeser and Georgina Howard in the field.
In the Under 23 age category Alex Masina, Hamish Lovemore, Daniel Jacobs and Uli Hart will lead the attack against a stacked field, while the Under 23 women’s race sees Christie Mackenzie face off with surfski stars Kira Bester and Jade Wilson for the top step of the podium.
The short course racing will take place on Friday afternoon before the main K1 events on Saturday where the senior men and women will fight it out for national titles over three laps.
The senior men’s K1 race on Saturday afternoon is expected to be another exciting affair with the likes of former world champions Andy Birkett and Hank McGregor topping the entries along with the local threat of Nick Notten and Kenny Rice and former age group world marathon championship medallist Brandon van der Walt amongst others.
Looking at the women’s K1 showdown Jenna Nisbet will be the boat to catch through their race with Bridgitte Hartley another big name fighting it out for the overall K1 honours. Melanie van Niekerk and Nicky Birkett will be hoping to upset the apple cart during the K1 duel.
The K2 racing on Sunday is expected to be just as exciting as the Under 23 age category falls away and they race with the seniors, adding another layer of intrigue to proceedings.
Jenna Nisbet and Saskia Hockly will team up once again to defend the title they won on the canals of St Francis in 2020 and will face off against Bridgitte Hartley and Christie Mackenzie as well as the crew of Melanie van Niekerk and Kira Bester.
In the senior men’s race there are some exciting combinations ready to push for glory. The Durban-based duo of Hamish Lovemore and Hank McGregor will be strong as will the new combination of Andy Birkett and Nick Notten.
Kenny Rice and Uli Hart will be a strong force as will Clinton Cook and Wayne Jacobs and the experienced team of Shaun Rubenstein and Ryan Louw.
There will be another loaded field for the Under 18 boys K2 race with Matthew Milward and Jack Edmonds will be under big pressure from fellow KZN duo Kwandokuhle Mzolo and Sandile Mbanjwa and Josh Simpkins and Matthew Coetzer as well as Luke Jean le Roux and Dyllan Farrell.
The racing includes men and women in the veteran and masters classes eager to challenge for national titles, and the Guppie races that give Under 12 paddlers a chance to shine.