Ca­noeists ready to hit the water in Kowie Chal­lenge at ski-boat club

Talk of the Town - - Sport - JON HOUZET

he sound of hun­dreds of pad­dles splash­ing the water will again fill the air this Satur­day when the NFB Kowie Chal­lenge ca­noe race sets off from the Port Al­fred Ski-boat Club.

The an­nual race is or­gan­ised by Bor­der Ca­noe Club and race con­vener Dave Put­tergill said he was de­lighted to once again have NFB on board as spon­sors.

“Last year was their first year of spon­sor­ing and they have re­ally

Tem­braced the event,” Put­tergill said.

“We are also for­tu­nate to en­joy the sup­port of the ski-boat club, law en­force­ment of­fi­cials and the lo­cal com­mu­nity, which to­gether with the won­der­ful set­ting of the Kowie River, makes for a great day out.”

The race starts at 10am. Pad­dlers will race laps con­sist­ing of a route through the canals of the Royal Al­fred Ma­rina, and a turn­ing buoy 3km up­stream. Each lap will be 7km long, and with the race be­ing three laps, the to­tal dis­tance is 21km. There is also an option to race a short course of 7km.

The ca­noeists race in sin­gles, dou­bles and three-man surf­skis.

Last year’s winner, Greg Louw, posted a win­ning time of one hour and 34 min­utes, so the first pad­dlers are ex­pected to fin­ish in front of the Ski-boat Club from 11.30 on­wards.

“An ex­cit­ing as­pect of the race is the In­ter­city Chal­lenge tro­phy, putting Port El­iz­a­beth and East London pad­dlers against each other,” Put­tergill said.

All pad­dlers log points for their re­spec­tive clubs, with age group cat­e­gory win­ners earn­ing ex­tra points, thus en­sur­ing com­pet­i­tive rac­ing right through the field.

In the last two years, a “coun­try districts” team has also been added to the chal­lenge, and con­sists of Eastern Cape pad­dling clubs out­side of the two main met­ros.

In re­cent years, the In­ter­city Tro­phy has resided pri­mar­ily at Bor­der Ca­noe Club in East London, but last year a great ef­fort from the Blue Water Ca­noe Club of Port El­iz­a­beth saw the tro­phy travel to that city.

“This will un­doubt­edly add some ex­cite­ment to Satur­day’s rac­ing as the East London crews try re­claim the tro­phy,” Put­tergill said.

A cu­ri­ous sight among all the surf­skis and ca­noes in last year’s race, Candice Mur­ray from East London was the only prone board pad­dler com­pet­ing. Mur­ray did the 7km short course which still seemed like a Her­culean task, but she kept pace with many of the ca­noeists.

Not tech­ni­cally in the NFB Kowie Chal­lenge, she joined the ca­noeists for the so­cial sport ex­pe­ri­ence.

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