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- Fisher fires course record 63 to lead by four in Harare
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McGregor and Mocke look to add to their Fish River honours
- Updated: October 9, 2015
The bulk of the country’s top canoeing combinations are in the Eastern Cape for what should be a mouthwatering 82-kilometre Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon between Grassridge Dam and Cradock Sports Complex on Friday and Saturday.
Six-time marathon world champion and Hansa Fish K2 defending champ Hank McGregor will look to add to his record five K2 titles at the event when he and Jasper Mocké (pictured above) tackle the renowned two-day clash despite having only just landed back in the country after the weekend’s ICF Ocean Racing World Championships in Taihiti.
McGregor (Jeep Team/Kayak Centre), who has won the past four K2 Hansa Fish clashes with Grant van der Walt to go with his and Len Jenkins’ 2006 doubles victory, has been in sublime form of late across the various paddling disciplines while Mocké (Mocké Paddling) put in an impressive bronze medal effort in Taihiti himself.
The pair will however have their work cut-out for them as a stellar field looks to challenge for this year’s R30,000 winner’s cheque and the prestigious national K2 title.
Likely to lead the charge are five time Dusi Canoe Marathon champ Andy Birkett (Euro Steel) and hometown hero Greg Louw, a pair who have spent much time in the boat together of the past few seasons.
International crew Jakub Adam and Michael Odvarko of the Czech Republic are no strangers to South African waters and after going toe to toe with many of the event’s pre-race favourites previously, will know what they are in for and are hoping to produce for a podium performance this weekend.
The presence of crews such as Kayak Racing/Macsteel Maestros’ Brandon van der Walt and Stu Maclaren, ADreach’s Jenkins and Siseko Ntondini, Tom Schilperoort (Holdfast) and Dawid Mocké (Mocké Paddling), brothers Andrew (Seed co.) and Alan Houston as well as Thulani Mbanjwa (Build it) and Nhlanhla Cele (Computershare Change a Life Academy) also promise the scrap just behind the pre-race favourites to be a fascinating affair.
The women’s race sees defending champions Abby Solms (Kayak Centre) and Anna Kožíšková of the Czech Republic back once more as they look to overcome the challenge of one of the most richly talented women’s fields in the recent history of the Hansa Fish.
The last two years has seen Solms has become the leading female river marathoner in the country while Kožíšková recently claimed a maiden K1 Marathon World Champs crown and is known for relentless determination and powerful paddling ability.
They will however be closely followed by Olympic bronze medalist Bridgitte Hartley and Michelle Burn, the country’s top emerging young stars Jenna Ward and Kyeta Purchase as well as Solms’ twin sister Alex Adie and the experienced Nikki Mocké.
While the racing snakes battle it out at the front of the race, countless races within the race are set to unfold a little further back.
The event’s reputation of being K3 friendly having again attracted a large three-seater contingent with Mark Essery, Dirk van den Berg and Chris van den Berg’s sublime pedigree seeing them start Friday first stage in B batch while 1992 race winners Shaun Rice – now living in Australia – and Colin Simpkins team up with Richard Starr in the K3 division.
Amongst the near-1300 paddlers set to take on this year’s challenge are a group of stand-up paddleboarders as the race welcomes SUP competitors to its ranks for the first time.
Rory Anderson is another character of the Hansa Fish back again in 2015 as he looks to continue both his love affair with the event and his remarkable record of being the only person to have completed all previous editions of the 33 year-old race.
Former Springbok rugby player Justin Swart is a paddling convert nowadays with the former fullback and wing eagerly anticipating this year’s Eastern Cape major.
An annual water release will once again provide ideal river levels for participants while the weekend’s forecast warm weather is set to produce blisteringly hot on the water action throughout.
Picture of McGregor (front) and Mocke courtesy of Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media