The Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon has forever been a race that has drawn entire families to the small Karoo town of Cradock and with plethora’s of K2s and K3s ready to hit the waters of the Fish River for the two-day adventure from 7-8 October this year many more love-affairs with this iconic race will begin.
With a hat-trick of Marthinus Erasmus Memorial Shield’s for first Parent and Child across the line the father and son duo of Michael and Liam Stewart have had a great run over the three years that they have paddled together however father Michael believes it is time to set his son free.
“With three K2 finishes together I think that he needs a new challenge and he will be doing his first Fish in a K1 this year!
“I did my first Fish in 1998 and we bought Liam to the race a few times when he was young and one day he told me that he specifically wanted to paddle Fish with me.
“He is seriously snapping at my heels so I really can’t afford to slip up otherwise he might just get to Cradock before me!” Stewart said with a smile.
The atmosphere that surrounds the Hansa Fish has always been a unique one and many anticipate the trip to Cradock on an annual basis.
“The Fish is the only race that my wife will actually come to!” Stewart laughed. “It is also the only race around the country that we will go to as a family which just shows you how much people enjoy it and how much we enjoy the whole event.”
A name synonymous with adventure sports in South Africa is Haw and once again the clan from the farmlands of KwaZulu-Natal will make their way down to Cradock to take on the Hansa Fish in a variety of different boats in 2016.
“Myself and my dad (Farmer Glen) have done eleven Fish’s and I am making sure that I don’t miss one so I will definitely be back again this year,” said eldest daughter Tamika.
“I was quite a nervous paddler and I did my first three with my dad, he drove the first one, we both drove during my second one and then I drove the whole way on my third one so he really helped me get into the Fish.”
The Haw siblings, Tamika, Murray and Bianca have racked up an impressive 26 Hansa Fish finishes between the three of them but Tamika and Murray are yet to take on the challenge together. Their family affair with the Fish does not seem to disintegrate, despite the absence of Bianca from the entry list, as Farmer Glen readies himself for his twelfth trip from Grassridge Dam to the Cradock Sports Complex.
“My dad is doing the race this year with my cousin Shannon Parker-Dennison which will be another family member catching the Fish fever and she is excited that she has my dad taking her down the river for her first time,” added Haw.
With eleven consecutive Hansa Fish finishes under her belt Tamika is feeling the heat as the unspoken competition between herself and her dad, Farmer Glen, heats up with neither wanting to give an inch to the other.
“I really don’t want to miss one! There is a little bit of a competition and I also want to keep Murray off my tail, he’s done eight!
“It’s great that the whole family can go down to Cradock and take on the Fish. It’s such an incredible vibe and we enjoy the weekend so much that it is one race that we look forward to every year,” Tamika concluded.
The 2016 Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon takes place from Grassridge Dam to Cradock Sports Complex on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 October.