Pietermaritzburg – One of the country’s premier one day canoeing races the Ozzie Gladwin, presented by Parklane SuperSpar, at the Albert Falls Dam on Sunday, 9 November will once again be preceded by the hugely popular Guppy race that showcases the emerging paddling stars of the future.
Guppies are short stable single canoes ideal for introducing paddlers younger than 12 years of age to the sport and the 2013 edition of the race attracted a big field of fledging paddlers as they raced around the Albert Falls Dam ahead of the main race at the Ozzie Gladwin and with the aim to get children involved in paddling there is a prize for every participant at the finish.
The race has become known as the biggest guppy race in the country and the record participation over the past two years has been attributed by the youngsters desire to emulate their parents, and compete in a safe and carefully managed environment.
Race Committee Chairman Brett Austin Smith is encouraged by the event and understands the importance of getting young paddlers involved and keeping them interested in the sport.
“It is great that we have a guppy race that keeps drawing paddlers to our sport and for us being able to support a guppies race is another positive due to the fact that it shows our involvement in developing paddling in our younger generation,” he said.
“With a sponsor like Parklane SuperSpar helping out and providing the kids with a treat it should help in making the whole experience for the children that much more memorable!”
The likelihood of a number of these young paddlers having parents or older siblings paddling in the main race is quite high which then lends itself to getting these kids involved in the sport from an early age and getting them experiencing a race with other boats around them.
The focus of the guppy race has never been a competitive one with all of the participants receiving the same goodie bag from Parklane SuperSpar as they get off the water and the race concentrates on drawing these kids into the sport and encouraging them to get out on the water.
The race is a lap race around the Albert Falls Dam with the minimum amount of laps being one but if the youngsters are feeling strong they can complete up to four laps of the course. The race is convenient for parents because it starts and ends at the same place.
With the opportunity to be on the water at the same time as the top paddlers for the Ozzie Gladwin is an exciting prospect for the junior paddlers as the senior race acts as the lead out for the Guppy race.
The 2014 Ozzie Gladwin takes place from Albert Falls Dam to Thornvale Farm on Sunday 9 November. More info can be found at www.ozziegladwin.co.za