K3 world record for Fish Canoe Marathon

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8 September 2010

A new world record will be set for K3 craft taking part in a canoeing event when the Hansa Powerade Fish River Canoe Marathon gets under way in Cradock on 1 October.

So far, 62 K3 entries have already been processed by the race headquarters, with several more expected to be lodged in the weeks before the two-day race from Grassridge Dam to Cradock, far outstripping last year's record entry of 43 K3 craft.

K3 river craft were pioneered in South Africa by extending K2 craft to include a third cockpit. In recent years a number of purpose-built K3 kayaks have entered the local marketplace.

The unique nature of the Hansa Powerade Fish is particularly well suited to K3 craft, with a largely rock-free river bed and many easily negotiable weirs very friendly to them.

The race organisers formally acknowledged the interest in K3s a few years ago, and this has resulted in the snowballing of entries in recent years.

Recognised as a competitive class

This year the K3s will be recognised as a competitive class for the first time, and the winners will be awarded the new K3 trophy, and with it a share of the prize money pool.

Last year, the potent trio of Matt Bouman, Herman Chalupsky and Andrew Birkett powered their K3 to a 5 hour, 9 minutes finish that placed them just outside the top 10 overall. They also proved to be easily the fastest boat on the long flat stretches of the river.

"It's a thrill to see the K3 entry taking off like it has," said race committee head Louis Copeman.

"The paddlers have realised that the nature of the river is uniquely suitable to K3s, and even though there are only a handful of manufacturers who make them, I have a feeling that there will be about 75 K3s on the start line this year."

K3 kayak sales

Kayak manufacturer Owen Hemmingway agrees. "I have sold about 25 new K3s this year and every one of them has been ordered specifically for the Fish. It's a matter of time before there are more than a hundred K3s taking part in this race."

Copeman said safety will always be an overriding priority for the race committee and the K3s will be instructed to ensure they do not hinder any other craft on the river.

"It seems that common sense is prevailing with the K3s," said Copeman. "They are being careful in the tight sections through the Willows, and there haven't been any major issues about them causing any extra congestion on the river. I hope it stays that way, and that all the new K3 crews show the due respect for the other craft on the river.

Copeman added that the K3s would be batched on ability throughout the field, and would not be started in a separate batch at the back of the field, as was required in the early days of K3 racing on the Hansa Powerade Fish.

Encouraging K3 participation

Last year the race committee agreed to make an exception for a K4 entry, as this was part of a cancer fundraising initiative. "K4s are a different story, and the principal remains that we won't accept general K4 entries, and instead we are encouraging them to opt for K3s instead," explained Copeman.

Normal entries for the race closed last week, with the entries processed already topping 1 500 paddlers. Late entries are presently being taken at a R100 late entry fee.

SAinfo reporter

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A K3 slices through the rough water of Keith's Flyover rapid, which is part of the first day's racing on the Hansa Powerade Fish River Canoe Marathon (Photo: Justin Vellacott, Gameplan Media)

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