Paddlers test the Drak waters

2016-01-14 06:00
Having never had much prior know- ledge of the river when they get to the N3TC Drak Challenge, Martin Dreyer’s Computershare Change a Life Academy paddlers have this year been afforded the chance to enjoy a four-day pre-Drak training camp in Underber

Having never had much prior know- ledge of the river when they get to the N3TC Drak Challenge, Martin Dreyer’s Computershare Change a Life Academy paddlers have this year been afforded the chance to enjoy a four-day pre-Drak training camp in Underber

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MARTIN Dreyer’s Computershare Change a Life Academy has become the shining light of canoeing development in South Africa.

As a result, the Drak Challenge title sponsors N3TC have invited members of the academy to enjoy a four-day training camp in Underberg as they prepare for the two-day Drak Challenge from January 23 to 24 and the rest of the KZN river marathon season’s commitments.

Founder of the Change a Life Academy Martin Dreyer believes that this is a great opportunity for the academy’s paddlers to familiarise themselves with the famous stretch of water in what will be a first for many of the paddlers in the academy.

“N3TC have very generously offered our Change a Life paddlers a four-day pre-Drak training camp where they will be staying at Glenhaven,” an appreciative Dreyer said.

“It will be great for the guys to get up there a few days early to trip and just enjoy being on the river for a few days beforehand.

“It will be a serious few days’ preparation and I am sure the guys will use those days well in the build-up to the Drak as well as with the FNB Dusi in mind.”

In the past the Drak Challenge has been a race that the Change a Life Academy charges have taken on without much prior knowledge of the uMzimkhulu­ River or its rapids. With this training camp though, they should be able to gain invaluable knowledge before this year’s race begins.

“It is a really technical river and in the past some of the guys have taken some nasty swims.

“Being up there beforehand, the younger guys will be able to get to know the river better and it is a wonderful opportunity for the guys to get to know some of the sections before Drak.

“The region also provides them with perfect surroundings to hone their river skills as well as get in some Dusi training by incorporating some portages up and down the area’s spectacular mountains into their training sessions,” Dreyer added.

Having the chance to train on the uMzimkhulu River is something that Dreyer hopes will be appreciated by the academy as they prepare for a busy period culminating in the Dusi Canoe Marathon towards the end of February.

“It is one of the best sections of river that you can paddle as it offers very little room for error which will be great for our paddlers’ skills. It is an area that has always impressed me as a training ground and I hope that the guys will take full advantage of the great conditions, clean river and awesome environment when they get up there to train.”

With the Drak Challenge being rainfall dependant, Dreyer is wary of the fact that he has to give careful consideration to who of his paddlers he extends N3TC’s generous invitation to.

“We don’t want to take up young guys who are only comfortable in C-Grade rivers because we know what the uMzimkhulu can produce; it is important that we have guys who can handle themselves in varying river conditions,” he mentioned.

With the Change a Life Academy growing every year Dreyer has had to limit the amount of paddlers that he takes up to the Drak Challenge with a strict criteria and standard needing to be met in order to be on the bus heading to Underberg.

“With such a big academy I can’t take everyone up which means that we will be taking up the guys that have been training hard in the off-season and looking after themselves.

“It is a great opportunity for the guys and we only want to take the guys that are the most deserving of it,” reiterated Dreyer.

The N3TC Drak Challenge takes place on Saturday, 23 January and Sunday, 24 January.

- Gameplan Media.

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