Pietermaritzburg – With the 2013 edition of the popular Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon a thing of the past, river paddlers have now turned their attention to KwaZulu-Natal’s river season as one of the country’s leading one day events – the Ozzie Gladwin Canoe Marathon – forms a vital cog in many’s preparations for the prestigious and iconic Dusi Canoe Marathon.
Whilst helping step things up a notch or two for many of KZN’s ‘fish and chips’ river paddlers, the 28km clash also provides numerous Dusi title hopefuls with a perfect early hit out, particularly as countless top combinations look to assess their Dusi compatibility early in the season, and aim to secure a favourable rating in the first Dusi seeding race of the season.
Defending K2 champion from the 2011 Ozzie Gladwin Hank McGregor says it is key to assess form against the top doubles combinations at this key stage early in the KwaZulu-Natal summer season.
“I’ll definitely be on the start line for Ozzie Gladwin,” confirmed McGregor. “It’s so important to be able to work out just how well you and your partner combine early on and, given how many crews are new or still developing a relationship together, I think this year’s Ozzie will be where many will look to try test themselves for Dusi next year.”
“I travel out to Hong Kong on the Sunday, the day after Ozzie Gladwin, for a surfski race but I won Ozzie with Grant (van der Walt) two years ago and it would be great to try get another good result this year before I head overseas,” he added.
The race’s route sees paddlers start in front of the slipway at Albert Falls, complete a short flatwater stretch across the dam before taking out and completing a portage around the dam wall.
Having put their boats back into the uMngeni River just above the Albert Falls Weir – the first major paddling obstacle of the day – paddlers then make their way through a series of rapids, weirs and flatwater sections as they tackle the final 22km of the event.
2012’s clash saw ‘Fisher King’ Len Jenkins rack up a record tenth Ozzie Gladwin victory as he narrowly outsprinted 2013 Dusi top contenders Andy Birkett and Thulani Mbanjwa to claim the spoils after a tightly contested three-way tussle.
Victory in the event in 2011, the most recent K2 staging of the event, with his K2 partner Grant van der Walt will give McGregor good confidence heading into this years’ clash however, whilst he and many others will be battling it out for top honours, many others will have a slightly different agenda for the day.
With the Dusi Canoe Marathon’s unique running characteristic, many social paddling enthusiasts will turn to the Ozzie Gladwin as one of the first major tests they will put themselves through in order to prepare themselves for the three day encounter’s numerous portages.
The Ozzie Gladwin also offers something for the younger members of the family with the Ozzie Gladwin Guppy Race’s 2,5km course around a series of buoys making for the perfect environment for some of the sport’s youth to enjoy their slice of the action.
The 2013 Ozzie Gladwin Canoe Marathon takes place on Sunday 10 November. More info can be found at www.ozziegladwin.co.za and entries for the event can be submitted via http://ozziegladwin.co.za/entryform.htmlb