Pre-Fish provides paddlers form barometer
The annual Pre-Fish took place this past weekend and gave paddlers the opportunity to test their skills in similar conditions to those that they are going to find next weekend at the Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon from 27-28 September, with Cradock-raised brothers Greg and Ryan Louw showing solid form ahead of the big race at the end of the month.
The race takes place over the same two-day course and with very similar water levels to those that paddlers will experience during the Hansa Fish itself, and for those preparing for their first encounter with the Fish River it is the perfect dress rehearsal.
Every year the Hansa Fish has a guaranteed water release from Grassridge Dam which gives paddlers an adrenalin-filled 82km ride over the two days. The similar conditions at the Pre-Fish would have been a perfect precursor to the Fish as paddlers plan their race strategies ahead of the SA K2 Championship decider next weekend.
The event gave Fish title hopefuls Greg and Ryan Louw a good opportunity to re-familiarise themselves with the river. The pair, who grew up paddling on the Fish, might not have needed too much time to recalibrate as they plan an all-out assault on the overall title next weekend.
It would be a fairy-tale story if the boys from Cradock were to claim overall honours, and they can bank on plenty of local support over the two days of the race.
With entries for the event approaching 900 the fight for age category prizes will be fierce as paddlers hunt down national titles.
What makes the race that much more fascinating is the races within the race as paddlers eye podium spots through the various age brackets.
The Fish is a drawcard for paddlers from around the country annually due to its central location from most of the major centres in South Africa and the fabled Klein Karoo hospitality and exciting river conditions make it a race on all paddlers’ to-do lists.
For many paddlers travel to Cradock for the annual Pre-Fish as a prime opportunity to reccie the river and see if there have been any changes over the past twelve months. The event also provides an opportunity for paddlers to familiarise themselves with the major rapids again ahead of the big showdown at the end of September.
With obstacles such as Keith’s Flyover on the first day and the infamous Cradock Weir on day two, paddlers used the Pre-Fish as a good chance to tackle these major obstacles in a race scenario.