Top field for Fish canoe race
Current Wild Water European Championship silver medallist Tobias Bong (Photo provided)
Cradock – Two German crews have signed up for the 30th anniversary edition of the Hansa Fish River canoe marathon taking place in Cradock on 7 and 8 October adding further weight to the team of elite international paddlers flying in to take part in the popular event.
The German crews consisting of Tobias Bong with his partner Achim Overbeck and the crew of Robert Ernst and Jan Burgdorf have confirmed their entries for the two day 82km canoe marathon, alongside the French and Czech entries already received.
Tobias Bong returns to the race that he first competed in during the 2009 event claiming eighth position overall. "It was the most exciting country I've ever been to," said Bong. "It was just great and I'm very happy to come back!" The other three athletes will all be making their Fish debuts/
Bong, the current Wild Water European Championship silver medallist is still sceptical over the race length as most wild water races take no more than twenty minutes. "I have a lot of respect for paddlers finishing the last hour of the first day just after the Soutpans Weir!" laughed Bong.
"My trainer has given me an extra training plan for the last four weeks before the Hansa Fish, so I hope that I will be in good condition,” said added Bong.
German 1000m sprint world champion Max Hoff, who has had to opt out of the race due to his commitments to his national Olympic committee, shared a video of the Hansa Fish marathon with fellow German paddlers.
"Since Max (Hoff) had been to the Fish a few times, he has showed us a few videos of the race. I am impressed by Cradock weir," said Overbeck. The 2010 Wild Water World Champion runner up has conservative goals heading into his first race down the Fish River.
"This will be my first Fish, but I will be in a boat with Tobi, who has been there once before," said Overbeck who aims to make top ten upholding the standard of international crews who have taken part in the event in previous years.
As a crew Ernst and Burgdorf have a long list of wild water and surf ski achievements to their names and are eager to give the Hansa Fish a try. "It's our first time at the Fish, so we can learn a lot. Let’s see what happens!" said Ernst. "I'm looking forward to having a great experience!"
In addition to South Africa's elite paddlers being a hot topic amongst German crews, so is the Hansa Fish marathon and the obstacles the unforgiving river provides. "The Fish marathon has become famous event to racing paddlers in Germany," said Burgdorf. "We think it's a hard and long race with many difficult wild water sections and the many weirs won't be easy to drive!"
The 30th edition of the Fish river canoe marathon takes place in Cradock on 7 and 8 October. More information can be found at www.fishmarathon.org.za