Robertson - With provincial K2 titles on the line and a packed month of
major canoeing events looming, the race for the women's title at the Breede
Rive Canoe Marathon on September 7 and 8 will see the untested combination of
experienced paddlers Christie Mackenzie and Kim Van Gysen starting as the crew
Mackenzie, who rose to prominence when she won the Dusi Canoe Marathon title
earlier in the year, is heading to China in October to contest for the under 23
women's K1 and senior K2 titles shortly after a challenge for the title and
national K2 laurels at the Fish Marathon in Cradock three weeks before.
At both of those competitions she will be racing with Olympic bronze medallist
Bridgitte Hartley, but with Hartley having been away on duty with the national
sprint team at the African Championships, Mackenzie has had to look around for
another partner for the Breede outing.
"Kim approached me to do a dice with her and then asked if I was keen to do the
Breede with her as Bridgitte (Hartley) is away on the Breede weekend," said
"That dice went really well and I like how determined she is in a racing
situation," she added, saying that the responsibility of driving the boat from
the front seat will fall on Van Gysen's shoulders.
"Kim knows the river well, and though it isn't too technical, her knowledge of
the stages mean's she can make all the decisions.
"I am feeling really confident in her ability and determination, so I am
looking forward to the race.
"I also haven't sat in the back of a K2 since I was at school so it will take a
bit of getting used to," she added.
Van Gysen finished third in the recent Bamboo Warehouse Push And Pull Paddle
three day race, and is enjoying a solid return to racing form.
The pair will have a distinct advantage over many of the other K2 crew as they
are light, and with very low water predicted for the race, their weight
advantage will count heavily in their favour in the shallow rocky rapids and
"We are a light crew so if the river stays as low as it is at the moment it
might actually play into our hands," Mackenzie added.
"She is a great person as well, and I got to know her a little better on the
Push And Pull Paddle weekend."
They will not have it all their own way as the Breede attracts a number of the
region's top women's crews, with names like Melanie Van Niekerk, paddling
with Llundudno lifesaver Christina Geromont, Lis Hart and Romy Findlay, Angie
Austin and Jess Pollock and Kim Rew and Robyn van RTooyen already surfacing on
the confirmed entries list.
After the Breede showdown, she will be back in the front seat of the K2 as she
prepares for the dates on the Fish River and then the global K2 title decider
in China, all while trying to juggle her end-of-year exams in her psychology