Underberg - Eleven-time world champion Hank McGregor has made no bones about
the fact that he wants to win the N3TC Drak Challenge in partnership with FNB
on January 19-20, 2019, and phoned his friend and defending champ Andy
Birkett to warn him that he wants to reclaim the Drak title he last won in
“I told Andy that he is welcome to go and win the Dusi or the world
champs or anything like that, but the Drak is mine!” said McGregor.
McGregor won a hat-trick of victories between 2010 and 2012 at the hugely
popular Underberg-based race on the uMzimkhulu River, but since then he has
lost a number of thrilling tussles with his Euro Steel team-mate Birkett,
most of them through a single small mistake on the river.
“In the Drak it is all about river skills,” said McGregor.
“You have to stay
smooth and stay clean. You can’t win it with brawn.”
McGregor and his family will be holidaying in the Underberg area around
Christmas and will stay on to race the FastDrak that covers the entire
two-day Drak Challenge course in a single day with some long portages.
“I love doing the FastDrak, but this year I will be doing a lot of tripping on
the river to learn where every single rock is!” he said.
“Last year I got stuck on a rock on Glenhaven Rapid and that gave Andy enough
of a lead to get away. Before that I got bumped in the last rapid before the
“At the Drak there is nothing in it. It takes the smallest mistake to let
someone get away, which makes it pretty entertaining. One deflection, one
wrong channel and it’s over,” said the 41-year-old Durbanite, who will be
enjoying the holiday training with his family, which has expanded with the
recent birth of his second son Max.
“I love everything about paddling on the uMzimkhulu, but I want to make to
perfectly clear to everyone, including Andy Birkett, that getting the Drak
title back is my main priority for 2019,” he said with ominous conviction.
The 2019 N3TC Drak Challenge starts at
Castleburn on Saturday, January 19 with a 26km stage to Sinister
Pool, just above the Swartberg Road bridge.
The second stage on Sunday,
January 20 is 36km long, finishing at Early Mist Farm close to Coleford
More information can be found at www.drakadventure.co.za