Hank seeks fourth Molo win

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - SPORT - RICHARD VON WILDEMAN

SOUTH African pad­dling icon Hank McGre­gor will be jet­ting off to Hawaii this month in a hunt for his fourth Molokai ti­tle.

McGre­gor will also have a new craft spon­sor in Fenn Kayaks, after four years with Epic Kayaks.

East Lon­don-based Fenn will now have two mar­quee play­ers, in McGre­gor and Aus­tralian Cory Hill, a two-time world cham­pion.

One can­not help but won­der if Hill’s vic­tory in last year’s ICF Surf­ski World Cham­pi­onships in Hong Kong on a Fenn made McGre­gor switch craft spon­sors.

Hill fa­mously won the Hawai­ian show­piece in 2015 and then went on to take the sec­ond ICF World Champs in Tahiti.

Not un­like foot­ball or F1, pad­dling has a trans­fer sea­son where elite pad­dlers look­ing for that ex­tra edge may jump ship, so to speak.

Aussie surf life­sav­ing stars broth­ers Shan­non and Caine Eck­stein have part- nered with Epic Kayaks down un­der and will be head­ing to the chan­nel of bones.

With them be­ing uber-fit and lethal over the short life­sav­ing Iron­man dis­tance, it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how the wa­ter­men fare over the 53km surf­ski chal­lenge.

Shan­non will look to long-dis­tance pad­dling to ex­tend his pro­fes­sional sport­ing ca­reer.

The six-time Aus­tralian Open Iron­man Cham­pion won the 2009 Hong Kong Dragon Run, a 28km event, on de­but against a loaded field.

Lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers Car­bonol­ogy Sport will be rep­re­sented at the show­piece by their star pad­dler, Hayley Nixon.

The lo­gis­tics of trans­port­ing a 6m craft to the other side of the world are a tremen­dous chal­lenge – one can only hope the ski gets there un­scathed.

Al­though on de­but at the Molokai, Nixon will be the out­right favourite after tak­ing out last year’s world champs.

Reign­ing Molo champ Sean Rice, rac­ing for Cana­dian brand Think Kayaks, will be out to prove that his run­away vic­tory last year was no fluke.

The ocean pad­dling com­mu­nity will be hop­ing the field gets a roar­ing down­wind and not a mir­ror-flat sea.

The re­cently granted per­mit to al­low Raggy Char­ters to op­er­ate a shark cage-div­ing ex­cur­sion at Bird Is­land will en­dan­ger the lives of beach­go­ers not only in Nel­son Man­dela Bay, but in Ken­ton and the sur­round­ing Sun­shine Coast.

Sharks are a mi­gra­tory species and once con­di­tioned to hu­mans are no longer wary of us. We have been warned!

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