Pietermaritzburg – With the successful South African flatwater marathon championships under their belt, the organising committee of the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships at Camps Drift next month is dissecting the two day national championships to fine tune and learn as many constructive lessons from the event as possible.
Organising committee chair Steve Botha was pleased with the uniformly positive response from the record field of over 500 paddlers that took part in the event.
“By and large, the response from the paddlers and the spectators was very encouraging,” said Botha. “The atmosphere was great on Saturday and Sunday, and we had very few complaints.”
“We saw the SA Champs as a dress rehearsal for the Worlds and the fact that we had such a huge field was always going to be a good test of our infrastructure and set-up at Camps Drift. We tried hard to get all the small things right.”
Botha said the principle focus was on getting the racing right, starting the big fields of paddlers efficiently and making sure the course was fair.
“The paddlers enjoyed the course. We learnt lessons from the KZN Champs and made changes to the layout of the turn buoys, which worked well.
“On the weekend, we changed the location of the boat weigh-in site, which will be easier for the paddlers to access. We were also under pressure to handle the multiple starts, two minutes apart, and the timing was impeccable,” said Botha.
He said that the commentators location on the deck of the NCC clubhouse was also a lesson learnt, and he was relocating the live streaming commentary position from the ground floor to the deck for the World Champs.
Botha said their biggest challenge now was to complete the tidying up of Camps Drift itself before the arrival of the international paddlers.
“There is a little more cleaning up to be done on the banks, and we plan to flush the Drift again,” said Botha. “There is rain forecast for this week as well which will be helpful.”
He added that there was concern over the incidents of boats hitting submerged objects and damaging their rudders, and that he and his team would lower the level of the water in the Drift to identify any obstructions, and would then raise the water by adding sandbags to the wall of the Drift.
Camps Drift will be playing host to the next leg of the popular Euro Steel McGregor Series on Friday evening, and Botha wants the venue to put on another success event in the build-up to the World Champs from 4 to 12 September.
The ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships will be held at Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg from 8 to 10 September 2017, preceded by the Masters Cup competition. More information can be found at www.wmc2017.co.za.