Underberg – Czech Republic paddling star Jakub Adam will add a distinct international flavour to the N3TC Drak Challenge Canoe Marathon this weekend, which also serves as the first leg of the International Canoe Federation’s Classic Series.
The 29 year old Czech hero is no stranger to South African rivers having taken on a number of FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon’s, Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon’s as well as a solitary Drak Challenge in 2013 so he has a sound understanding of South African river racing conditions.
His Drak debut in 2013 was a baptism of fire as he was confronted by flood waters that kept most of the field off the heaving river. He finished 17, coping well with the big water demands given his lack of experience at rough water river racing.
Despite his focus being the FNB Dusi in February the Drak Challenge is a race that he has highlighted as important in his preparations for the three-day journey from Pietermartizburg to Durban despite initial concerns that water levels were going to be low.
“I am planning on doing the Drak Challenge this weekend,” Adam mentioned. “I hope that we will have enough water as I am going to try and use the race as Dusi training because we haven’t been able to get on to the river as yet.”
Adam has not tackled the N3TC Drak Challenge since the infamous 2013 event where the race was contested in large river conditions, 2016 could be vastly different to those conditions which, despite his extensive river racing experience, could test Adam.
Adam has swapped the bitterly cold Czech winter for the KwaZulu-Natal summer as he prepares for the FNB Dusi which is followed by the ICF Canoe Marathon World Cup in Pietermaritzburg in March.
“I have been training in South Africa for two weeks and it has been going very well.
“The Dusi is my main priority at the moment with running being our major focus but the Drak will be important training for me ahead of the race,” Adam mentioned.
Adam is the brother if Anna Kožíšková, who became popular with South African paddling fans under her maiden name Anna Adamova, partnering Abby Solms to a thrilling and close-run second place in the 2014 Dusi. The pair have also won the tough Hansa Fish Marathon together.
Adam quickly won the respect of the South African when they came out to race in the South African summer of 2012, where Adam raced Michael Odvarko, and again in 2014 racing with Cam Schoeman to a third place.
Adam will be joined in South Africa by his sister next week, as the pair continue their love for training in the southern hemisphere summer.
“It is very different. It is more fun to start the season on the river than doing many kilometres on flat water, so it is not boring," Adam said. “Every morning in the Czech Republic, even in summer, is very cold."
"Sometimes, if you're doing over 4 000 kilometres per year, it's quite boring to paddle just on one dam. This is fun, and for me it's the best preparation for the coming season."
"Canoeing in South Africa is very different from the scene in Europe. The peddle system and the rudders in the back of the boats are different. Also, in the beginning, I was scared to hit rocks in the river because we're trying to take care of the boat and clean it after each session, so this is different."
The N3TC Drak Challenge takes place on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 January 2016. More information can be found at www.drak.co.za