St Francis Bay – There are not many accolades missing from the impressive paddling CV of Hank McGregor, but on Sunday the 11-time Canoe Marathon World Champion took a step toward filling one of those gaps when he qualified for the SA team to go to the ICF Canoe Ocean Racing World Championships.
McGregor has never won the official surfski world championships since its inception in 2003, but is hoping to fill that gap on his list of successes in Perth, Australia, in December at the World Ocean Racing Championships.
By beating Matt Fenn to win the Canoeing South Africa Surfski Trials at St Francis Bay on Sunday, McGregor has earned himself a place on the South African team to travel to Australia at the end of the year, and so taken a small step toward adding the missing world title to his CV.
“I have never been shy to tell everyone that that is one title that is not in my trophy cabinet that I really want to win, so hopefully I can fix that in Perth in December,” said McGregor, who does have two second-place finishes after ending as runner up in the 2017 and 2022 World Championships.
On Sunday, McGregor crossed the line in a time of 1:27:57, nine seconds ahead of Fenn with Ulvard Hart, Mark Keeling and Dawid Mocké completing the top five men who are in line to earn selection for the South African team.
One paddler missing from the start line was Kenny Rice, the 2022 World Champion from Portugal who is ill and unable to take part in the trials.
“The conditions were pretty passive out there today (Sunday), and I managed to get into the lead group of five after about eight kilometres,” said McGregor.
“The route was a triangular course, which was pretty fair and fair is what they want for a national trial.
“On the way back with about four kays to go I managed to get away with Matt. We had a slight headwind and going with a bit of a swell I was able to get ahead of him at the wave line coming into the finish and get the win.”
In the women’s race, U23 Kira Bester paddled to a 10-second win over 2021 Women’s World Champion Michelle Burn, with Jade Wilson celebrating the SA K1 title she won on Saturday with a third place less than 24-hours later, just six seconds behind Burn. Completing the top five were Georgia Singe and Melanie van Niekerk.
The 2023 ICF Canoe Ocean Racing World Championships are due to take place on December 1-2, with the opening ceremony on November 30 and a spare “weather day” on December 3 if needed.
1 Hank Mcgregor 1:27:57
2 Matthew Fenn (1st U23) 1:28:06
3 Ulvard Hart (2nd U23) 1:28:29
4 Mark Keeling 1:28:33
5 Dawid Mocke 1:29:43
1 Kira Bester (1st U23) 1:39:09
2 Michelle Burn 1:39:19
3 Jade Wilson (2nd U23) 1:39:25
4 Georgia Singe (1st U18) 1:39:58
5 Melanie Van Niekerk 1:42:37