Following on from their dominant win at the recent Breede River Canoe Marathon, the newly forged combination of Andy Birkett and Nick Notten will take on the SA K2 River Championships at the Fish River Canoe Marathon from 8-9 October.

After getting in a boat together for the first time at the South African Marathon Championships in May, the partnership has begun to take shape, sounding a warning for the other paddlers hoping to lay claim to the national K2 title in Cradock.

“We got in a boat together for the first time on the morning of the K2 race at SA Champs and it felt good there,” Euro Steel’s Andy Birkett said.

“After that we said we should put some work into this combination and Breede was a great chance for us to get some time in the boat together before Fish.

“We are also going to paddle Pre-Fish which will be great for us and will be the first time that I’ve done it. It will give us valuable time on the course as well, which I am looking forward to.

“Logistically it works well for me being in East London and it’s a good dress rehearsal for the main race.”

Birkett’s reputation as the country’s top river marathon paddler could be enhanced should he and Notten claim the line honours. Currently Birkett holds the N3TC Drak Challenge, MyLife Dusi, Berg and Breede titles with the Fish the only title he doesn’t hold – he also missed the previous edition in 2019.

Birkett appreciates that he can race competitively in different environments every few months.

“We are so fortunate in South Africa to have so many great river marathons and I know that every race is going to have a strong field of paddlers.”

The World Marathon Championships in Romania are just a week before the Fish and with Birkett missing out on selection for the national side the other K2 combinations will have noticed that his focus is completely on the two day race through the Klein Karoo.

“We know that the Fish is always really competitive and for Nick and I we are concentrating on that.

“I am really excited to paddle with Nick again because we get along really well and he’s a very lekker guy.

“He offers a lot of power in the back and we are looking forward to the Fish and will be as prepared as possible.

“We will probably have to work on making sure that we both don’t miss the start,” Birkett said with a laugh, after nearly missing the start of their batch at the Breede Marathon.

“We are going to have to work on our organisation!”

The 2021 Fish River Canoe Marathon takes place from Grassridge Dam to Cradock from 8-9 October.

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