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.
“That’s 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