19 September 2013
A flurry of entries from top international paddlers has bolstered an already star-studded field that is assembling for the Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon taking place in Cradock in the Eastern Cape on 27 and 28 September.
Eight elite paddlers from Europe are set to be on the start line in a couple of weeks’ time, with Tobias Bong (Germany), Tomas Slovak, Jakub Adam, Lukas Trefil, Richard Hala, Jony Sramek and Anna Adamova (all Czech Republic) and Valentin Henot (France) all excited by their upcoming Fish adventure.
For Bong, Slovak, Adam and Adamova, it is a welcome return to the Eastern Cape’s paddling major, having competed in the event previously, while this year’s adventure will be a first for Trefil, Hala, Sramek and Henot.
Germany’s Bong finished eighth in a K1 in 2009 before powering his way onto the bottom step of the podium after an impressive two days with K2 partner Achm Overbeck in 2011. He returns this year once again, hunting a top-three finish, this time with his brand new and untested partner, Slovak.
Slovak, no stranger to the Fish as he too looks to notch up his third finish, previously finished fourth in 2010 with fellow Czech star Robert Knebel before boat admin in 2011 forced them down into sixth place.
Having spent many months in South Africa last year and early this year preparing for last year’s Fish, the 2013 N3TC Drak Challenge and this year’s Dusi Canoe Marathon, Adam will now tackle this year’s challenge with London Olympic K4 bronze medalist Trefil.
Adam had originally planned to compete with Michael Odvarko, who also has extensive experience of South Africa, but their partnership fell through at the last moment.
In 2012, Adam claimed a decent 15th place finish in a K1 and will be looking to both build on that result, as well as have a good time on the river this time around.
Hala and Sramek make up the third and final all-foreign duo. A talented young pair, they have shown great promise on the European wild water front, while Hala also made a name for himself in the sprint world a little earlier this year.
Adam’s sister, Adamova, who also spent a long period on South African shores towards the end of last year and into 2013, will look to build on her 11th place K1 finish in 2012 when she team’s up with one of South Africa’s most successful female paddlers of recent times, Abby Adie.
The other South African/international pairing sees Frenchman Henot joining the Western Cape’s exciting under-23 talent Ivan Kruger, with the pair looking to worm their way into the top 10 and possibly even stake a claim for a top-five finish.
With all of South Africa’s top river marathoners having already entered, the addition of the elite international stars has sparked even further interest in what many believe will be one of the most exciting and closely-fought K2 editions of the Hansa Fish in many years.