McGregor series ends on a high at Camps Drift

  With the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships just a week away, paddling fever gripped the Camps Drift venue on Friday evening when another massive field took part on the series-ending race of the Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series.

In a race that focussed on competitive K2 racing, McGregor himself raced in a K1 and finished a modest fifth in a contest that was dictated, appropriately, by some of the sports rising stars.

Juniors Hamish Lovemore and Callum Davis claimed the tense overall victory, edging out Tom Lovemore and Bryan le Roux, with teenagers Hamish Lovemore and David Evans right in the mix in third.

The on-form women’s crew of Michelle Burn and Hayley Nixon had the perfect dress rehearsal for their world title bid next Sunday by posting an emphatic win in the women’s race, with fellow Team SA racers Jenna Ward and Nikki Russell second, and making the most of the competitive outing on the Camps Drift course.

The popular short course option was also very well supported, despite the chilly and blustery conditions, where youngster Fanele Mkhunya posted an impressive victory, as did Jessica Erasmus in the girls division.

“It is just fantastic to paddle past the youngsters in their Guppies and to hear them call my name. I really believe that there is another world champion on the water amongst these guys and girls,” said McGregor.

“The series was all about putting something back into the sport, and creating opportunities to get more youngsters paddling and inspiring them to progress in the sport,” he added.

The race was supported by a number of international paddlers keen to test the Camps Drift layout before their races in the Masters Cup and the World Champs proper next week.

“It was surreal paddling with such a big field on the course that I will be racing the worlds in a few days’ time. There is such a great vibe at Camps Drift right now,” said McGregor.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS – RACE FIVE MCGREGOR PADDLE SERIES, The Euro Steel Camps Drift Race
1 Callam Davis/Hamish Lovemore 0:31:28.18
2 Thomas Lovemore/Bryan Leroux 0:31:31.98
3 Hamish Mackenzie/David Evans 0:31:45.10
4 Thulani Mbanjwa/Banesti Nkhoesa 0:32:18.96
5 Hank McGregor 0:32:53.98
6 Stewart Little 0:33:11.25
7 Msawenkosi Mtolo/Mmeli Cele 0:33:26.73
8 Mthobisi Cele/Khumbulani Nzimande 0:33:33.95
9 Mpilo Zondi/Mvelo Ngidi 0:33:38.03
10 Hayley Nixon/Michelle Burn 0:33:52.63
11 Minenhle Mbhele/Sandile Mtolo 0:33:54.63
12 Siyanda Gwamanda/Phineas Zulu 0:34:07.97
13 Murray Starr/Tyron Maher 0:34:38.30
14 Bradley Boulle/Don Wewege 0:35:03.19
15 Jabulani Gwamanda/Nkosikhona Mabaso 0:35:03.75
16 Thembinkosi Ngcobo/Bongani Ntinga 0:35:21.07
17 Julian Carbier 0:35:27.01
18 Skhumbuzo Ngidi/Nhlanhlayakhe Cele 0:35:28.72
19 Jenna Ward/Nikki Russell 0:35:32.40
20 Emanuel Zaloumis 0:36:46.79
21 Xolile Kondile 0:36:47.78
22 Christie Mackenzie/Sabina Lawrie 0:36:48.99

Women
1 Hayley Nixon/Michelle Burn 0:33:52.63
2 Jenna Ward/Nikki Russell 0:35:32.40
3 Christie Mackenzie/Sabina Lawrie 0:36:48.99

Short Course
1 Fanele Mkhunya 23:54.36
2 Seluleko Gcwensa 24:02.69
3 Kevin Khanyile 24:06.34
4 Jessica Erasmus 24:31.26
5 Malwande Nxumalo 24:35.32
6 Smilo Mthethwa 24:59.94
7 Stephanie Erasmus 25:41.78
8 Dylan Barber 25:57.42
9 Sbusiso Bhengu 26:09.46
10 Luke O’Connor 26:10.46

Marathon lovers flock to McGregor Series race four

The 2017 Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series returned to its Blue Lagoon home base on Friday evening as Race Four, the Bidvest McCarthy Toyota Durban North Race, once again saw plenty of enthusiastic paddlers of all ages take on one of the two distances.

A friendly, welcoming vibe has been the cornerstone of the second year of the series and with an eye on introducing people to the sport of canoeing the focus on guppies at race four was the best place to start.

Last weeks event in Pietermaritzburg attracted over 70 guppies to the short 4km course and this week organisers saw a similar number of young, junior paddlers take to the water where they could see the world champion Hank McGregor himself in action.

Series founder McGregor has been at the top end of marathon racing for over a decade and to have the opportunity to pass on his knowledge to younger paddlers and to see the interest in paddling growing makes it worthwhile for him.

“The main rule of the McGregor Series is that guppies have right of way,” mentioned the eight-time world champion.

“To see so many young kids come and take on the race tonight is awesome and its humbling that we have been able to take our sport to some people that might not have experienced it before.

“The youngsters are the future of paddling and if I can help them and give them a platform to kick on from then I am happy because that is what the series is all about.”

With the 2017 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships just two weeks’ away and paddlers starting to wind their preparations down as they converge on Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg, the McGregor Series gives paddlers a brief sense of the meaning of marathon paddling.

Although the event is only staged over eight kilometres, the tactics and fundamentals are the same and having paddlers racing in marathon conditions can only be beneficial to South African paddling.

“We had one or two of the international paddlers out here this evening ahead of worlds and they thought that it was chaotic racing but I said to them that that is what racing at a world championships is going to be like so they better get used to it!” he added.

From a racing perspective it was Hank McGregor who claimed his second victory in as many weeks ahead of the young Lovemore brothers with the younger Hamish beating Tom to second place.

In the ladies race the K2 of Jenna Ward and Nikki Russell were the strongest with the young Christie Mackenzie finishing as the first ladies K1 home followed by Sweden’s Emma Anderson.

The shorter 4km course was won by Bryan and Luke Taylor with Lee McGregor and Lorna Oliver finishing second ahead of the Furby duo of Lee and son Aiden in third.

Matthew Swemmer won the stand-up paddleboarding section ahead of Jacqueline Lecourt de Billot in second and Brendon Germaine in third place.

The final race of the 2017 Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series will return to Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg for the FNB Race next Friday.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS – RACE FOUR MCGREGOR PADDLE SERIES, The Bidvest McCarthy Toyota Durban North Race

Overall
1.Hank McGregor 34:43.05
2.Hamish Lovemore 35:05.49
3.Thomas Lovemore 35:13.38
4.Gene Prato/Luke Nisbet 35:28.74
5.Stewart Little 35:35.71
6.Hamish Mackenzie 35:52.79
7.Banetse Nkhoesa 36:22.79
8.David Evans 36:25.46
9.Callam Davis 36:26.46
10.Mmeli Cele 36:28.35
11.Khumbulani Nzimande 36:34.19
12.Minenhle Mbhele 36:35.97
13.Jenna Ward/Nikki Russell 36:36.99
14.Sbonelo Khwela 36:46.34
15.Mpilo Zondi 37:33.17

Women
1.Jenna Ward/Nikki Russell 36:36.99
2.Christie Mackenzie 39:03.43
3.Emma Anderson (SWE) 39:57.64
4.Sabina Lawrie 40:40.09
5.Kyeta Purchase 41:22.34

SHORT COURSE
1.Bryan Taylor/Luke Taylor 21:17.61
2.Lee McGregor/Lorna Oliver 21:42.36
3.Lee Furby/Aiden Furby 22:05.15
4.Greg Worthington/Natasha Chittenden 22:46.25
5.Thea van der Westhuizen 23:48.03
6.Dillon Ceronio/D Ceronio 23:54.32
7.Lance Howarth/Cameron Howarth 23:56.44
8.James Tutton/Glenda Austin 24:40.32
9.Jessica Erasmus 26:11.28
10.Stephanie Erasmus 26:21.42

SUP – 4KM
1.Matthew Swemmer 25:54.59
2.Jacqueline Lecourt de Billot 28:27.39
3.Brendon Germaine 30:20.57

2017 Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series:
Race 5: 1 Sept – Euro Steel Race, NCC, Pietermaritzburg

McGregor Series continues to break records

The FNB Race set another milestone for the popular Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series, as the canoeing event came to Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg for the first time, attracting a massive field of paddlers of all abilities on Friday evening, eager to paddle with the world champion despite the icy weather conditions.

With a cold front having recently passed through KwaZulu-Natal, paddlers might have been excused for giving this one a miss but with the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships just three weeks away marathon racing has caught the imagination of many in and around Pietermaritzburg.

The race broke records in terms of development paddlers as over 70 young paddlers from various academies around KZN taking part in the event, which series director Pippa McGregor sees as a major step forward for paddling in KZN.

“Introducing young paddlers to the sport of canoeing is one of the fundamental aims of the series and to give them a safe environment where they can experience paddling in a race is important,” she said.

“To see all the smiles out on the water this evening suggests that we are doing our job and the series is reaching its objectives.

“Despite the cold weather, having so many paddlers out here and racing on the same stretch of water that the best paddlers in the world will be using in three weeks’ time just shows how marathon fever has gripped people.”

Speaking on Friday evening, race founder Hank McGregor echoed his wife’s words when he spoke about giving youngsters the chance to experience paddling.

“Luckily for me this is a sport that I got into at an early age and have had the privilege of racing at the top level for a number of years.

“To encourage youngsters to get involved in the sport and become consistent competitors is the goal.

“We might have a future world champion here, but to get people of all abilities and all backgrounds together and racing makes this series unique,” a proud McGregor added.

In the racing it was series founder McGregor who won an exciting end sprint against Pietermaritzburg-based Bryan Leroux in second and former Under 23 K1 marathon silver medalist Brandon van der Walt in third.

Euro Steel star and South African marathon champion Bridgitte Hartley was far too powerful for the rest of the ladies field and took home the honours ahead of international star Emma Andersson and Kerry Segal in third.

The fourth leg of the popular series shifts back to its founding base at Blue Lagoon on Friday 25 August with the Bidvest McCarthy Toyota Durban North Race.

Maritzburg gears up for its first leg of McGregor Series

With the 2017 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships less than three weeks away, Camps Drift has become a hive of activity as the waterway that hosts the start of the FNB Dusi gets set to entertain the world’s top racers, and this Friday night the “Drift” will enjoy another milestone when it hosts a leg of the popular Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series for the first time.

Founded by eight times world champ Hank McGregor as a way to lure youngsters to the sport of canoeing and to put something back into the pursuit that is his passion, McGregor started the series at Blue Lagoon last year, and with each one of the four races the popularity snowballed.

Backed by Euro Steel the series expanded to five races in 2017, and stated with the first ever race in Johannesburg, at an icy Emmarentia Dam where well over a hundred paddlers braved the single digit temperatures to be part of the McGregor Paddle Series phenomenon.

The FNB Race, the third leg of the Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series, starts at 5:15pm at Camps Drift and is open to paddlers of all abilities and in all sorts of paddle craft, from K1s, K2s and K3s to surfkis and stand-up paddleboards.

“With Camps Drift hosting the World Champs in three weeks’ time, you can feel the marathon racing vibe at the Drift and all over Pietermaritzburg,” said McGregor. “It was a no-brainer to bring the series to Camps Drift this year.”

“The series is all about making it as easy and as fun as possible to get in canoeing,” he added.

It costs just R20 to enter the race, either an easy 4km short race or the longer 8km race, and there is R10 000 in prize money spread across the various race categories, and a variety of lucky draw prizes.

With the entry increasing exponentially after each leg of the series, the Camps Drift leg of the Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series has already attracted a massive amount of interest, with a contingent of 69 youngsters from a local development programme making the trip to the “Drift” for the race.

McGregor confirmed that the fifth and final leg of the series will also take place at Camps Drift, just days before the week-long festival of international canoeing gets under way.

Former winger and fullback for the Springboks and the Sharks Justin Swart is just as passionate about the series, with his employer FNB sponsoring this third leg of the 2017 series.

“I think it is outstanding that the best paddler we have ever had is giving something back to the sport while he is at the top of his game,” said Swart.

“Thats why we as FNB jumped in,” he added. “The principle of ‘Leave it in a better place that you found it’ applies, and it is really not often that you see a current world champion committing time and energy to putting something back.

“That’s why we are keen to add value wherever we can, because this series resonates with our core values of family and relationships,” said Swart.

The FNB Race, the third leg of the Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series gets under way at Camps Drift at 5:15 and registration opens at 4pm at the NCC clubhouse.
2017 Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series:
Race 3: 18 Aug – FNB Race, NCC, Pietermaritzburg
Race 4: 25 Aug – Bidvest McCarthy Toyota Durban North Race, Blue Lagoon
Race 5: 1 Sept – Euro Steel Race, NCC, Pietermaritzburg

McGregor Series continues to win the hearts of many

The second leg of the 2017 Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series, the Bidvest McCarthy Toyota Durban North Race, came back home to Durban on Friday night with the characteristically warm winter weather drawing hundreds of eager paddlers to Blue Lagoon for a unique paddling experience.

The series is the brain child of multiple Marathon World Champion Hank McGregor and his wife Pippa, and the event is more about enticing people to the sport of marathon paddling.

The first leg in Johannesburg in the middle of June focused on K2, or doubles, racing and Friday’s action also emphasised two-person racing. The thought process behind this was the opportunity for paddlers to take on either the long 8km course or the short 4km with a novice or a less experienced paddler.

“We had a fantastic event on Friday and I am incredibly humbled by the amount of paddlers we had taking part,” McGregor commented.

“There must have been close to 250 paddlers taking part which is definitely a series record!”

As South Africa’s finest gear up for the 2017 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Pietermaritzburg in September, the McGregor Series provides a platform for paddlers to get in some competitive action ahead of the international showpiece in six weeks’ time.

“We had some of the big guns from the past as well as the present out there, the likes of Ant Stott and Matthew Bouman were racing tonight against the young Tom Lovemore and Clint Cook for the win.

“Jenna Ward and Kyeta Purchase, World Championship silver medalists, were up against Michelle Burn and Hayley Nixon with the older duo showing their experience to take the win. It was great tight, racing in the build up to SA Marathon Champs and World Champs,” he added.

Bidvest McCarthy Toyota once again threw their support behind the race on Friday and will also be involved in Race Four next month but McGregor was appreciative of their support for the series.

“This is their second year involved in the race and they have been hugely supportive of us and we appreciate their efforts.

“I paddled with Glenda Austin again this year and we did the short course, we had a fantastic race.”

Growing the sport is the main objective for McGregor and although the sheer numbers took him aback, the amount of young paddlers taking part was another pleasant surprise.

“The biggest surprise for me was the amount of development paddlers and guppies that we had.

“Those are the areas of the sport that we need to focus on and to see them participating and racing full throttle was fantastic!”

Race Three of the 2017 Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series will take paddlers to Pietermaritzburg on 18 August for the FNB Race. This is one of two races that will take place at Camps Drift on the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships course.

More information can be found at www.mcgregorpaddleseries.co.za

SUMMARY OF RESULTS – RACE TWO MCGREGOR PADDLE SERIES, The Bidvest McCarthy Toyota Durban North Race

Overall Men:
1.Clinton Cook/Thomas Lovemore 34:25
2.Antony Stott/Matthew Bouman 34:26
3.Callam Davis/Hamish Lovemore 34:26

Overall Ladies:
1.Hayley Nixon/Michelle Burn 38:00
2.Kyeta Purchase/Jenna Ward 38:16
3.Sabina Lawrie/Christie Mackenzie 39:38 Jnr

Junior Boys
1.Callam Davis/Hamish Lovemore 34:26
2.Hamish Mackenzie/Dave Evans 35:05
3.Skhumbuzo Ngidi/Thabani Msia 42:01

Junior Girls
1.Sabina Lawrie/Christie Mackenzie 39:38

Vets
1.Lance Howarth/Sean Burgen 38:39
2.Jason Ekstrand/Richard Lowe

Mixed Doubles
1.Brent Chiazzari/Jessica Chiazzari 46:51
2.Stephen Main/Hannah Main 47:00

Short Course – First men
1.Lee McGregor/Cavin Sewell 24:41

Short Course – First Ladies K2
1.Paige Horn/Carmel Billson 25:27

Short Course – first mixed
1.Chris Fann/Axet Fann 31:01

SUP – 4KM
Mens SUP
1.Matthew Swemmer 29:10
2.Brandon Germaine 32:55

Ladies SUP:
1.Landie Williamson 31:12
2.Keetah Stott
2017 Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series:
Race 3: 18 Aug – FNB Race, NCC, Pietermaritzburg
Race 4: 25 Aug – Bidvest McCarthy Toyota Durban North Race, Blue Lagoon
Race 5: 1 Sept – Euro Steel Race, NCC, Pietermaritzburg

McGregor Series back to light up local waters

Having taken the Euro Steel McGregor Series craze to Gauteng in June, the highly-anticipated first KwaZulu-Natal leg of the series, the Bidvest McCarthy Toyota Durban North Race, will take place at the event’s founding home at Blue Lagoon this Friday, 28 July.

After being started in 2016 by multiple World Marathon champion Hank McGregor, the McGregor Series exploded to life when it attracted paddlers of all ages and abilities over a short 4km or a longer 8km course.

The first race of the KZN leg of the series this Friday will be K2 focused, although organisers do not want to limit the event and K1’s,3’s, surfski’s, sit-on tops and stand-up paddleboards are all welcome to take part.

The series started as a way for McGregor and his wife Pippa to give back to a sport that has given them so much over the years and with an ethos of enjoyment and involvement the series has encouraged non-paddlers and ex-paddlers to get into a boat and enjoy a Friday evening on the water.

“The series comes at a stage in the season when many paddlers are starting their training for the summer season races like the Dusi or the Drak,” says McGregor.

“We encourage these paddlers to commit to paddling the 4km or 8km race with a novice or even a family member or your second, to give someone the opportunity to experience the pleasure of paddling.”

With the 2017 ICF World Marathon Championships being held at Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg in September, Hank and Pippa have arranged for two of the four KZN legs of the series to be held at Camps Drift.

“You can already sense the buzz ahead of the World Champs in Pietermaritzburg, so we have agreed to hold Series races there on August 18, and the last one on 1 September, the Friday before the World Champs! The vibe will be amazing!

“We try to keep it as simple and affordable to enter – to race costs just R20 to enter – and there is R10 000 in prize money and prizes spread over all the race categories, with lots of fun prizes and giveaways,” said McGregor.

Despite the inclusive nature of the event the racing at the front end of the field is always top class and exciting. South Africa will be hosting the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships next month and the series gives those looking to take part the ideal opportunity to get some competitive action.

Added incentives for paddlers that take part are great prizes as well as value for money. Paddlers’ race entry fee of R20 will also include a wors roll at the end.

2017 Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series:
Race 2 : 28 July – Bidvest McCarthy Toyota Durban North Race, Blue Lagoon
Race 3 : 18 Aug – FNB Race, NCC, Pietermaritzburg
Race 4 : 25 Aug – Bidvest McCarthy Toyota Durban North Race, Blue Lagoon
Race 5 : 1 Sept – Euro Steel Race, NCC, Pietermaritzburg

McGregor Series beats the Gauteng cold

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
8km Race
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

4km Race
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

2017 McGregor Series spreads it’s wings

After making waves in its debut season last year, the Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series is set to spread its wings in 2017, starting with a brand new event at Emmarentia Dam in Johannesburg on Saturday morning, starting at 8am.

“Everyone is invited, even if you are not a registered paddler and getting started in the sport,” said series founder and multiple marathon canoeing world champion Hank McGregor, who has offered to paddle the time trial in a K2 with a young beginner.

“We will be focussing on doubles at Emmarentia, so that is a chance for experienced paddlers to offer a chance to a novice paddler to get their first taste of canoeing.”

The ‘dices’ are run in easily managed distances of 4 kilometres or 8 kilometres, and offers R10 000 in prize money across all ages, categories and levels of canoeing experience.

“Expect lots of spot prizes and fun incentives, for the novices and Guppies as well as the elite racers,” said McGregor.

“Many people have seen the awesome movie ‘Beyond The River’, and are now keen to try paddling themselves. Saturday morning could be the first strokes in a long and successful paddling career,” said the eight time world champion.

After starting the series at Bluer Lagoon last year, McGregor and his wife Pippa have decided to take it to Emmarentia and Camps Drift in it’s second season, and are expecting a solid turnout of local paddlers of all abilities and a few out-of-town names as well.

Several members of the MacSquad training group based at Blue Lagoon will be making the trip to Gauteng for the Saturday morning dice.

London Olympics medallist Bridgitte Hartley has also added her name to the entry, and stressed that the series, was all about giving eager youngsters a first taste of paddling rather than being a competitive club time trial.

“I am really looking forward to taking part in many of the McGregor series events this year,” said Hartley.

“I think the hype from last year will be remembered,” she added. “The youngsters get to race and connect with their local heroes and beginners can do the short course without feeling too intimidated by the fast fit top racers.”