With water in the Berg River, the Pink Lady Drakenstein Canoe Race is set to fire up the 2017 Western Cape canoeing season this weekend when the two-day race hosts the South African K1 River Marathon championships and organisers are expecting an exciting showdown from 16-17 June.
The race is set to start at Gouda on Friday, which is a public holiday, with 30km’s between the start and the finish at Bridgetown. The second day of the race takes paddlers 23km from Paarl Canoe Club to Skooltjie.
The Western Cape has enjoyed some welcome rain of late and race organisers have made it clear that the race will go ahead and the water level is set to be more than paddlable.
“We had a very nice race last Saturday which was on the same stretch of river as the first day of the Pink Lady,” said Eric Farringer.
“The water levels were medium and very enjoyable to paddle. There is currently more water in the river than on Saturday and rain has been falling throughout the early parts of this week.”
The South African national K1 championship is always a prized trophy and this year’s encounter should feature some of the Western Cape’s premier river paddlers.
Of those challengers is current ICF Canoe Marathon K2 World Champion Jasper Mocké, who will dust off his K1 to take a shot at the coveted national title.
“I haven’t been in a river boat since Fish last year,” Mocké joked. “I have been training and racing really hard in my surfski so I haven’t had time to paddle in my river boat.
“The title of being national K1 champion is always a great title to have and with the race being in the Western Cape, I thought it was a good opportunity to have a crack.”
The Euro Steel/Mocké Paddling star didn’t think too hard about making the decision and with such a busy surfski schedule starting next weekend he felt that it was good opportunity to try and claim a river marathon win.
“I made the decision late last week which gave me a bit of time to get into my boat and have a paddle.
“My surfski programme is packed with FNB Durban Downwind, followed by a race in Portugal, then Canada and finally America on the cards for the next few weeks.
“I am not worried about not having time in my river boat before the weekend’s race, I have been racing a lot so I am race fit which is the most important thing,” he added.
Mocké’s charge for the title will be a tricky one as there are a handful of paddlers that will have their eye on the top step of the podium.
The likes of Edgar Boehm, Tyron Maher and Anders and Uli Hart might provide the strongest challenge for Mocké with Czech Republic’s Jakub Adam also throwing his name into the hat.
The ladies race will be a two-paddler shoot-out as Bianca Beavitt and Alex Adie fight it out for the national honours. Beavitt has dominated this stretch of river in the past with her consecutive Berg River Canoe Marathon titles showing her clear superiority and she will be difficult to beat over the two-day Pink Lady Drakenstein Canoe Race.