Kowie Canoe race this weekend

The annual NFB Kowie Intercity Canoe Challenge is back again this Saturday August 24.

The race is an annual rivalry between the Border Canoe Club in East London and the Blue Water Canoe Club in Port Elizabeth, who field the most paddlers, but it also features a Country Districts category for entrants from Cradock, Port Alfred and elsewhere in the Eastern Cape.

BATTLING IT OUT: K2s in action at the NFB Kowie Challenge canoe race in 2017. The 22km race, which starts at the Port Alfred River and Ski-boat Club, is in circuits along the Kowie River and through the canals of the Royal Alfred Marina Picture: JON HOUZET

The main race of 22km comprises three laps along the Kowie River with a turning buoy upriver and a circular route through the Royal Alfred Marina canals at the other end.

“The Port Alfred River and Ski-boat Club have generously again allowed their facilities to accommodate the race and this will be the start and end point,” race convener Dave Puttergill said.

The main race commences at 10am with the guppies – 12 and under paddlers – battling it out on a short course between the bridges from 9.30am which will showcase the up and coming talent.

“The Kowie Intercity Challenge is again fortunate to have NFB as sponsors and this is the third year of their involvement,” Puttergill said.

The race is primarily a K2 challenge (doubles), with points awarded towards the Intercity Challenge for all participants, plus extra points for places in each age category.

The 2018 race was a very close affair, with East London emerging as victors by a narrow margin.

“We expect Port Elizabeth to come back strong to try reclaim the trophy they won in the previous year,” Puttergill said.

K2 combinations to look out for include Bevan Manson and Josh Fenn, with younger Fenn’s, Matt and Jordy also forming a strong partnership. Port Elizabeth crews haven’t been confirmed but last year’s joint winners of the Port Elizabeth to East London Challenge, Jason Goedhals and Hein van Rooyen, together with Howard Loftus and Andrew Stone, are expected to lead the Port Elizabeth charge.

“While the focus of the Intercity Challenge is the K2s, the K1 Challenge will see an interesting battle up front with Greg Louw from Cradock and Andy Birkett from East London going head to head. They have previously teamed up and won the last two Fish Canoe Marathons, but Birkett, who moved to East London late last year, is the undisputed number one paddler in South Africa at the moment, having notched up none Dusi wins in addition to his Fish wins, and is the current World Marathon Champion in both K1 and K2 disciplines,” Puttergill said.

The annual race is organised by Border Canoe Club.

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