Sep 27, 2012

Sasol Lowveld Croc

On the weekend I completed my first major K1 river race in nearly 4 years. It was really great to be back on the river and especially the Croc. My two weeks of intense training definitely helped, but not in the way I had hoped. Fitness levels were still a long way off where I would have liked but it was awesome to arrive at the end of each stage without blistered hands or a chaffed bum!  Day one is raced as an individual time trial with each competitor going off 15 seconds apart. I was seeded 14th, 1 position behind my arch rival, Mark Smith. Mark and I learnt to paddle together spending most our weekends on the Croc, Sabie and Blyde Rivers, so this was most definitely a race within a race. I started really hard and by the time I reached Ghoen’s weir (1km) I had already passed Mark as well as another competitor and I had thoughts of the podium flashing through my mind. Things continued to go my way with clean lines through every rapid and by the half way mark I had passed 7 guys. I handled rapids 14 and 13.5 with the class of Ant Stott and started heading down the home stretch with a great deal of over-confidence. With no major obstacles in my way and only 30 minutes to go I smashed into a rock that came out of nowhere, it rolled me over before I even knew what had happened. I didn’t hang around the accident scene for very long, I knew Mark breathing down neck. I didn’t make another mistake from there on but my training base began to fail me. With my cramping arms and Mark averaging 3:50/km for his last 5 km my lead dwindled to a measly 25 seconds by the finish. I was 4th 1:30 behind Andy Birkette in 3rd.

Day 2 started with a bang, 3 minutes into the race I was swimming in a deep pool watching my 25second overnight lead turn into a deficit. Fortunately for me I seem to swim a lot which means I know how to get back into my boat quickly. In no time at all I managed to hook onto Mark’s tail slip and the race was on! With neither of us wanting to give anything away too early we exchanged leads a number of times over the next 45minutes. As we headed towards one of the more tricky rapids of day two I attempted to take up the pull by going through a small tree. This was a mistake as the little tree proved more resilient than anticipated and I once again found myself swimming in a deep pool. I jumped back into my boat and set off down the river but things were different, I suddenly felt every ache and pain from the previous days racing. Every stroke seemed 10 times heavier than it had 5 minutes before, a feeling every athlete knows when he has a race slip through his fingers. Over the remaining few kilometres I just took in the amazing river, appreciating every rapid, tight turn and tree block (Which ended up costing me another position).

It truly was an awesome experience to be back on the river, what a great race. I encourage each and every paddler to take a strong boat (if you not a great driver) and make the trip down this river. 

Aug 23, 2012

Back in the Boat

It has been an extremely long time since my last post. So much has happened in last few months but most of it has happened of the water rather than on and for that reason I have not made any posts. I have not been in my boat much at all since August and am feeling a major case of Olympic fever after watching SA canoeing’s rock star Bridgitte Hartley win a medal in London. It is time for me to get back into a boat and into racing mode.

I have the feeling it is going to be a lot tougher than I remember, over the past few months I have become a dad, moved to Johannesburg and taken on a full time job as a junior engineer. I have set my sights on racing the Lowveld Croc in my home town on the 22nd and 23rd of September. I dived straight into my 31 day training program yesterday afternoon with 30 push up and 30 pull ups. I thought that if I started really small I would avoid getting stiff, I was wrong! It is astounding how much training conditions your body.

I have a joined at the local club which happens to be on the way to and on the way home from work which will hopefully make it a lot easier to fit in my sessions. It is going to be a tough road to get my body back into kind of condition required to serve my passion of racing to the best of my ability. I am hoping that a 57km river race is going to serve as motivation to get this show on the road.

You could say I am now a full time athlete with a daily 9 hour distraction.

The pic is of Mark Smith dominating on the Lowveld Croc. His dad Trevor, is a previous winner of the prestigious race which is now celebrating it's 50th year. Watch out for Mark as he aims to follow in his fathers footsteps.

Nov 6, 2011

Lift off

This weekend saw the official start of Simon's Challenge. I had Jeffrey Smith come down from Durban to put his body to the test on the 3 disciplines, he managed a cracker of a run to ensure the top spot in the hall of fame. Today was also saw my return to my sprint boat, it was awesome to be in a well set up K1 again. We have a squad trial which takes place on the 4th of December. I will be racing over a distance of 100m and 250m. I am really looking forward to the trial and hope the competition will be as tough as it has been over the past few seasons. I know that there are a few guys that are opting out as it falls over the same weekend as the 50 miler which is one of the biggest pre-Dusi races on the calendar, this will definitely take some of the big names out of the line up.

Oct 30, 2011

Moving on...

If you are reading this blog it is likely you are a friend and know me on a personal level, at the same time you probably know that Ruby and I narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Summer Olympics next year. I have taken quite a bit of time out mentally over the past two or so months. I have been keeping rather busy making sure not too much time is spent harping on disappointment. I have spent a lot of time on and in the water as well as in the mountains around Cape Town. De-training myself so to speak, it doesn't seem healthy to go from 4 hours of training a day to zero. I am also currently looking to find a career path for myself, a nerve wracking but exciting process at the same time. I don't feel that this is the end of paddling by any means, it is the sport I love and continue to appreciate every angle of it.

Above is my new K1 training venue, it is amazing!

Aug 18, 2011

Two days till I start racing. The World Champs opened last night with an impressive opening ceremony and South Africa had three boats racing in this morning's session and all three have made it through to the semi finals. We have our heat draw for Saturday morning. We are going to be up against some good boats which is always good, it allows you to gauge yourself before the semi 90min later and clear out a few cob webs. The boats to look out for in our heat are Latvia, Canada, Japan and China. This years Worlds has 2000 athletes all attempting to qualify for London next year only 176 will get the nod. There a lot of pressure out here.

Aug 15, 2011


It has finally arrived, the 2011 World Championships. Yesterday afternoon we took the relaxed 2 hour drive from Szolnok to Szeged. We spent the evening at the course, with the help of Nelo we made some small adjustments to our boats. We left the course at 18h30 and it was still 32.5 degrees, the weather looks set to stay the same all week. I am really excited to be racing here in Hungary again, Szeged is definitely the best kayaking venue in the world.
Over the weekend Ruby and I did some race simulation time-trials racing a heat and semi on the one day and then a final on the next. It went really well, we managed to post our 2 fastest times, which is always a good boost going into racing. Racing starts tomorrow but Shaun and I line up for the first time on Saturday.

Aug 6, 2011

It's all happening

It's a little over 11 days to the opening of the 2011 World Championships. This is going to be the biggest canoeing event ever hosted. There are 94 nations entered this year, and the event is also the qualifying event for the 2012 Olympics. The pressure is definitely on. If the last Hungarian world championships are anything to go by this year is going to be insane. The size and the sound of the crowd for the finals is so intense that it is not possible to hear yourself breath or the sound of your paddles through the water. With 3D clips advertising the racing in all the cinema's, TV advertising and billboards of Hungarian paddlers all over the country; this year is well on its way to having an even bigger crowd.

Training here in the familiar Szolnok (Hungary) is going really well. Both Shaun and I managed to avoid getting sick back home and coming over to Europe a month before racing has proved to be worth while. I must say that being in the same hotel for the last two weeks has been rather painful but if we manage to achieve the desired result and qualify for the London games next year it will all be worth it. Watch two of our training videos here

We have a new boat for these championships, its a Nelo Vanquish Quatro. The perfection of these boats surprises me every time I open one. With tailors cutting and laying the carbon it is not surprising that there is not a single blemish on the outer layer. Hopefully our speed will continue to improve as we get closer and closer to racing. There's a lot riding on this one.

May 12, 2011

World Cup tour Schedule

World Cup 2 Racice

Shaun and I will be racing our 1st international race of the season on Saturday 21 May we are only going to race the K2 200m this year. The competition will take place in the small town of Racice about 40km outside of Prague. For race times and results check out

World Cup 3 Duisburg

Our next race is 1 week later in South Western Germany. We chose a short focused May tour this year in order to keep our training rhythm going leading up to the Olympic qualifiers in August. for results and race time check out

Open Season (Nationals)

My calendar this month is full of racing and it is about time. Training has been great but I have been longing to put myself to the test. My 1st week of May started out with our National selection which went according to plan and Shaun and I walked a way with a comfortable win. Our time of 34.65s was less than desirable but the side/head wind was not ideal either. In the 6 months of pre-season training you never your envision your 1st major race of the season to be anything less than perfect but I always feel you learn so much more from the ones that don't go so well, and that was definitely the case after our trial.

SA champs took place over the weekend and my regatta kicked of with the K2 500m which went really well and gave a great indication of our current form. We raced to a time of 1:29.6. I was really happy with the the boat went managing to build the stroke rate all the way to the end pulling away from the field from start to finish. My next final was the K1 200m. I had a really good start and found myself well clear of the field by half way, but this was not enough to hold off a charging Nick Stubbs who managed to close a boat length and pip me on the line with a well timed lunge. If I was out there to be better than person it would be Nick, which made my race that much more exciting. 30min later was the K2 200m where Shaun and I wanted to prove to ourselves that even when slightly fatigued we are able to post consistently fast times and we did just that clocking a 32.7. It was awesome to do a descent time at the end of a tiring regatta, I am looking forward to testing our combination against the best in the world in a weeks time.