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World champ McGregor grooms SA’s future stars

McGregor

The second leg of the 2017 Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series, the Bidvest McCarthy Toyota Durban North Race, came back home to Durban on Friday night. The characteristically warm winter weather drew hundreds of eager paddlers to Blue Lagoon for a unique paddling experience.

The series is the brainchild of multiple marathon world champion Hank McGregor and his wife Pippa, and the event is aimed at enticing people to the sport of marathon paddling.

The first leg in Johannesburg in the middle of June focused on K2, or doubles racing, and Friday’s action also emphasised two-person racing. The thought process behind this was the opportunity for paddlers to take on either the long 8km course or the short 4km along with a novice or a less experienced paddler.

‘We had a fantastic event on Friday and I’m incredibly humbled by the number of paddlers we had taking part,’ McGregor commented.

‘There must have been close to 250 paddlers taking part, which is definitely a series record.’

As South Africa’s finest gear up for the 2017 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Pietermaritzburg in September, the McGregor Series provides a platform for paddlers to get some competitive action in ahead of the international showpiece in six weeks’ time.

‘We had some of the big guns from the past, as well as the present out there, the likes of Ant Stott and Matthew Bouman were racing against the young Tom Lovemore and Clint Cook for the win.

‘Jenna Ward and Kyeta Purchase, World Championship silver medalists, were up against Michelle Burn and Hayley Nixon, with the older duo showing their experience to take the win. It was great, tight racing in the build-up to SA Marathon Champs and World Champs,’ he added.

Bidvest McCarthy Toyota once again threw their support behind the race on Friday and will also be involved in Race Four next month, and McGregor was appreciative of their support for the series.

‘This is their second year involved in the race and they have been hugely supportive of us and we appreciate their efforts. I paddled with Glenda Austin again this year and we did the short course, we had a fantastic race.’

Growing the sport is the main objective for McGregor, and although the sheer numbers took him aback, the number of young paddlers taking part was another pleasant surprise.

‘The biggest surprise for me was the number of development paddlers and guppies that we had.

‘Those are the areas of the sport that we need to focus on, and to see them participating and racing full throttle was fantastic.’

Race Three of the 2017 Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series will take paddlers to Pietermaritzburg on 18 August for the FNB Race. This is one of two races that will take place at Camps Drift on the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships course.



Next fixtures
Race 3: 18 Aug – FNB Race, NCC, Pietermaritzburg
Race 4: 25 Aug – Bidvest McCarthy Toyota Durban North Race, Blue Lagoon
Race 5: 1 Sept – Euro Steel Race, NCC, Pietermaritzburg

Picture of Sbonelo Khwela partnering up with Change a Life star Mpilo Zondi courtesy of Graham Daniel/Gameplan Media


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