The 2017 edition of the Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series got under way with the large entry of paddlers of all abilities braving the cold weather at Emmarentia dam, catching the race organisers by surprise.
“”Realising it was winter in Gauteng, we knew it wasn’t very paddler friendly. The weekly time trials are getting about 30 paddlers so we had a fair idea of what to expect,” said series organisers and multiple world champ Hank McGregor.
“It was three degrees, with frost on the grass, and we still got over a hundred paddlers!” he enthused. “The vibe was fantastic. The racing amongst the top guys was really hot and a lot of novices turned up to share in the day as well.”
The event was focussed on K2 boats, or doubles, to enable experienced paddlers to invite a less experienced paddler to share the occasion. “Ultimately that is what the series is all about,” explained McGregor.
“We try to make it as affordable and convenient as possible,” he added. “There was a Springbok test match up the road that afternoon, so we had our race done and dusted by ten o’clock, allowing people to get on with the rest of their weekend.”
McGregor paddled with local schoolboy Matt Eckhardt, who won the privilege to race with the world champ in a competition aimed at juniors.
“Matt is a really good 200 metre sprinter, but he hasn’t been training much after the SA Champs,” said McGregor. “He really felt it on that first lap, as the pace was pretty intense and there was plenty of jostling at the first turn can!”
“We finished fourth, and what made it special was the fact that I think he will be back in a boat again quite soon,” he added.
The event was well supported by paddlers from around Gauteng, including a few Stand Up Paddleboarders, a large number of paddlers from the SCARC club in Soweto and several of McGregor’s training mates from Blue Lagoon in Durban.
“It was encouraging to see a number of paddlers doing the hard yards ahead of the marathon season, and the Masters Cup in Maritzburg in September,” noted McGregor.
The series resumes on July 28th at Blue Lagoon. “From the buzz we experienced at Emmarentia, we hope to see some of the Gauteng paddlers in Durban for that race,” said McGregor.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
EURO STEEL MCGREGOR PADDLE SERIES RACE ONE
1 Mike Arthur/Wayne Jacobs 35:24.66
2 Clint Cook/Thomas Lovemore 35:25.46
3 Hamish Lovemore/Callum Davis 36:18.18 (U18)
4 Hank McGregor/Matt Eckhardt 36:38.46
5 Zonele Nzuza/Siseko Ntondini 36:41.63
1 Nicolaas Swart 27:06.58 (U12)
2 Theo Dreyer 27:22.50 (U12)
3 Tinyiko Mahwayi/Thembelihle Jokozela 28:27:98 (U14)
4 Caroline Power 29:04.06 (SV)
5 Asanda Ndlovu 29:04.06