Canoe race goes global

2014-10-08 00:00

CRADOCK — A last-minute international flavour has been added to the mix for this year’s Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon, which takes place in Cradock this weekend, with U.S. slalom star Austin Kieffer and Australians James Morfitt and Brendan Rice having confirmed their participation.

A strong field is already gathering in Cradock for this year’s race, with nigh on all of the best elite river marathoners from throughout South Africa set to be there.

Kieffer and Morfitt’s participation has spiced things up significantly, as their entries add an intriguing element of the unknown to the encounter.

“I was in South Africa last year, and when I left I decided that if ever I came back, then I just had to take part in one of the river marathons,” explained Kieffer. “I obviously met a lot of guys while I was out here and when speaking to them and researching things on the Internet and social media, it just became so apparent that the Fish was the one.”

Kieffer narrowly missed out on bearing the stars and stripes at the 2012 London Olympic Games in slalom paddling after being pipped at the post in the trials.

His pedigree, particularly his paddling skill set, remains unquestioned, something that will serve him well in Cradock.

“I have no idea what I’m in for. I’ve never been anywhere in South Africa outside of Cape Town, let alone to Cradock, so I have no idea what to expect, but I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.

“Being in a canoe is very different from a slalom boat or a surfski, but hopefully I will be able to take what I know from slalom and apply it to the river as best as I can, though.”

Kieffer joins the mighty Mocké clan on the annual road trip from Cape Town to Cradock today, and is hoping to get some insight during tomorrow’s training session.

“I hope to run some of the big rapids like Keith’s Flyover, and maybe a couple of the weirs, just to get a feel for things,” he said.

“For me, the whole trip is all about the experience. I know a couple of the guys, so hopefully I can look to stay with them and follow a couple of them down the trickier sections.”

The Fish River Canoe Marathon will take place on Friday and Saturday. For more information, go to www.fishmarathon.org.za

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