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