Brothers Andrew and Alan Houston are keen to build on their excellent performance in the recent Breede River Canoe Marathon by targeting a strong finish at the hugely competitive Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon on 9 and 10 October.
Racing in their first competitive outing together Andrew, who is studying in Stellenbosch, and Michaelhouse schoolboy Alan finished fifth overall and won the Under 23 title at the end of the tough two day, 75km outing on a low Breede River.
The brothers from Mooi River admitted that the Breede outing was the first salvo in their 2016 Dusi Canoe Marathon campaign.
“We have committed to doing the K2 Dusi together,” said Alan Houston, who won the Dusi K1 Junior title earlier this year.
“It was important to get into a boat together and test it out under racing conditions,” he added. “It took about half of the first day for us to settle into the boat but when we got that right we were able to get a really good grind going.”
The siblings, who had never paddled a K2 together apart from a solitary dice four years ago when Alan had just started high school, are excited about the coming summer season and using the Hansa Fish as part of their Dusi building blocks.
The race falls a few days before the start of matric final exams, putting Alan under pressure to carefully juggle his training, racing and studies. After that they can and will focus their energies on the upcoming Dusi doubles season though.
“It makes so much sense to paddle together,” said Alan. “We will both be at home together and then next year we will both be in Stellies together, making training together really easy.”
“Besides, I am really enjoying paddling with my older brother! He is good fun and so strong in the back of the boat.
“Initially we agreed to let me drive the boat to keep his weight and power in the back, and if that didn’t work out on the Breede we were going to swop. But it seemed to work really well and he trusts me in the front, which is nice.”
“Generally we make decision together and so far he hasn’t had to chirp me on my driving or my tactics, but I am sure that when that time comes he won’t hesitate to throw a few polite tips my way,” said Alan.
The brothers plan to try and fly under the radar going into the Hansa Fish, aiming modestly at a top ten finish.
“The Fish is always fun and we want to enjoy it and make sure it is clean and smooth for us,” the younger Houston said. “It looks like it is going to be really competitive so the racing will be pretty intense at the front.”
As a race within a race, the pair will be central to the dice for the Under 23 SA K2 laurels where they can expect to be shown little charity from classy crews like Damon Stamp and Mthobisi Cele and the Cape duo of Kenny Rice and Shanti Stewart.
Separated by four years, the Hansa Fish outing will be special for the two brothers and the plan to make the racing spectacle at the front of the race equally entertaining.