Words: Nick Tatham
Cradock – The popular K3 race at the Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon has been given an added incentive in 2014 as it will also double up as the SA K3 River Marathon Championships and with this title on the line, the interest has led to the largest K3 field ever with just over 100 boats already confirmed for the race that starts at Grassridge Dam on Friday.
Photo credit: John Hishin / Gameplan Media
78 K3’s was the previous record which was set in 2011 but with a national title on the line the numbers have increased greatly for this year’s race and there are a handful of elite crews that have entered in the hope of calling themselves national champions in a few days’ time.
The crew to watch at the 2014 race are the trio of Jean Luc Mauvis, Adam Nisbet and Nic Burden. The first two ended 23rd overall in 2013’s K2 Fish whilst Burden won the 2013 K3 race with his brother Paul and their father Colin.
The trio was planning on paddling in K1’s as it is a K1 championship year but decided shortly before race week that they would take on the Hansa Fish challenge in a three-seater craft instead.
“We have been doing a lot of training together recently in K1’s,” two-time K3 Hansa Fish winner Nic Burden said. “We sat down one evening and decided that we would give the K3 race a go and we have had a bit of time in the boat together so we are ready and keen!”
The training partners are all too aware of the social aspect that comes hand-in-hand with the Hansa Fish and with that in mind they will look to enjoy each-others company in the boat for the two-day stint.
“We are going there to race but we are also really keen to have a good time. We are good mates and spend a lot of time together so it will be fun!
“The preparations have been good and we are looking forward to getting onto the river on Friday,” an excited Burden added.
With the chance of claiming a national title as a carrot on a string, Burden was not going to pass up the opportunity to have a dig at his nearest rivals but remains relaxed about the trio’s chances of scooping the number one prize in K3 marathon racing in South Africa.
“It would be a nice little victory for sure but we are there to enjoy ourselves and if we win it will be a good bonus for us.
“It’s going to be an interesting race because my boat doesn’t know how to lose,” he concluded tongue firmly in cheek.
The challenge for the K3 title will be an interesting affair with the likes of Luke Chalupsky, son of surfski great Oscar, Tristan Wilson and Shaun Dias. Like Burden, Mauvis and Nisbet, the three come primarily from a surfski background and will provide a real threat to the favoured K3 crew.
Another group of paddlers that are expected to push for a podium spot come Saturday are the Birkett twins, James and Andrew, as well as Michael Laverack.
Taylor brothers Duane and Jody will be back in 2014 in a K3 but they will be with a new member, Don Gobey this time round. The Taylors finished third in the K3 race in 2013 behind Burden and co. as well as a boat full of talented Therons.
A feature of the 2014 Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon will be the reverse start for the second day which will see the lower batches depart for Cradock first and will are expected to be finished and waiting on the banks of the river to welcome home the lead boats of the elite race.
The concept worked well at this year’s Dusi Canoe Marathon and having a bank full of spectators welcoming the top paddlers home should add to the unique atmosphere that surrounds the Hansa Fish.
The Hansa Fish River Canoe marathon takes place on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 October 2014. More information can be found at www.fishmarathon.org.za