subscribe Support our award-winning journalism. The Premium package (digital only) is R30 for the first month and thereafter you pay R129 p/m now ad-free for all subscribers.
Subscribe now
Hank McGregor during day 1 of the 2021 Berg River Canoe Marathon on August 5 2021 in Paarl. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/GRANT PITCHER
Hank McGregor during day 1 of the 2021 Berg River Canoe Marathon on August 5 2021 in Paarl. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/GRANT PITCHER

Defending champion Hank McGregor scooped a double on a full uMngeni River on Sunday as he won the Lighthouse Designs Ozzie Gladwin with his new Dusi partner Matt Millward and with it the prized SA K2 River Marathon title.

Over the 26km course from Albert Falls to Thornvale Farm McGregor was the dominant force and tactically steered young Millward to the 2022 title, and in the process signalled their intentions as a podium crew for the three-day MyLife Dusi canoe marathon from Pietermaritzburg to Durban in February.

They held off their main challengers Thulani Mbanjwa and Msawenkosi Mtolo in a well-timed break in the second half of the race to hand McGregor his seventh win at the event, winning by more than a minute, with the promising crew of Stewart Little and Bongani Ntinga making up the balance of the podium.

“It was our first major outing together,” said a delighted McGregor. “We just seemed to click and ran well.

“We had one or two things we needed to sort out during the race,” he added. “The pump inlet pulled off the seat when we put in after the portage so we wasted a bit of time there.

“We managed to break away midway through The Cascades and finished on our own,” said the Euro Steel star. “Matt ran and paddled really well so we really enjoyed the paddle, he added.

McGregor said he was delighted to be back racing the race after having it cancelled in 2021.

“At least we are conquering the races now not letting Covid-19 conquer them like in 2021,” he said. “Winning the SA K2 title at the biggest one-day race in the country is an added bonus,” he said.

In the women’s race the new crew of Jordy Peek and Christie Mackenzie had their work cut out to stave off the strong challenge from the new combination of Abby Solms and Bianca Haw with the pairing of Bridgitte Hartley and Pippa McGregor always looming large behind them ready to capitalise on any errors.

“From the five women’s boats that got away at the front on the dam we got it down to three boats by the time we got to the flats on the uMngeni,” said Peek. “It was a tough race with the element of portaging, rapids and flat water to test the waters,” she said.

“It has been awesome paddling with Christie,” she added. “We haven’t done much time together in a boat but she was super strong today and I am really enjoying paddling with her at the moment. She has recently recovered from Covid-19 so it is good to know she is fully over that.” 

The big field that took part in the race used the days paddling and portaging as training for the Dusi in a month’s time, with the elites banking seeding points for the big race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.

subscribe Support our award-winning journalism. The Premium package (digital only) is R30 for the first month and thereafter you pay R129 p/m now ad-free for all subscribers.
Subscribe now

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.