East London – The Biogen Pete Marlin Surfski Race will have some canoeing royalty on the start line with the recently crowned canoeing princesses, Holly Smith and Georgia Singe, paddling the South African Championship event.
The Cape Town duo, from Peninsula Canoe Club, recently raced to an impressive world title when they won the Women’s Junior K2 race at the World Championships in Vejen, Denmark, and their next goal together is the doubles race in East London on the weekend of November 4-5.
The world champion combination are the favourites to claim the SA Junior Women’s title on the Sunday, but they will also be competing against each other on the Saturday in the singles race.
Smith was coy about her chances of adding a couple of South African surfski titles to her already impressive CV.
“This year in the singles race at the Pete Marlin I am hoping to come top three in the junior girls and hopefully finish within the top five in the senior ladies,” said the Grade 11 pupil from Camps Bay High School. “In the doubles we would like to place top three in the senior ladies.”
The budding young star is clearly proud of her international achievement, but realises the hard work has to continue if she wants any more successes.
“Winning the World Champs in Denmark was very nice and I was really stoked about it, but the hard training continues. I wouldn’t say it’s changed any of my goals for canoeing or ski paddling.
“I’ve done two Biogen Pete Marlin races. My first one was 2021, and then 2022, and now this year will be my third one. My best results so far I think was last year when I had a top-five finish in the senior ladies.”
In 2022 Smith, while still U16, paddled with Saskia Hockly in the doubles and won the girls U18 race and overall they were the second women’s boat home. In the singles, Smith was the top U16 and fourth woman overall.
“I enjoy the Pete Marlin. It is two days of hard racing and normally the singles is always a downwind, and then the doubles can be a bit of a surprise and you do not know what the conditions are going to be.”
Smith is very aware that her success comes on the back of a strong family foundation and appreciates the help from family and other supporters.
“I’m not sure I have a paddling hero, but I look up to a lot of the senior paddlers who train with us, help us and push us.
“My biggest supporter and biggest help towards achieving my goals is my family. My dad wakes up at the crack of dawn every morning to take me back and forth from training, as well as my brother who’s always pushing me at training, and my mom is always there when I need her.”
Holly recently paddled the Fish River Canoe Marathon with her younger brother, Ryley, and in an impressive result, the young crew finished third mixed double overall and also were the third U18 crew overall to finish the SA K2 River Championship event.
So is Holly going to get some family bragging rights by beating her younger brother in the singles race at the Biogen Pete Marlin?
“I guess we’ll just have to see,” she said with a smile.