Drak legend can’t wait to take on the 2022 challenge

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DEFENSE champion and seven-time winner of the N3TC Drak Challenge canoe-kayak marathon in partnership with FNB, Andy Birkett, said he was looking forward to returning to the uMzimkhulu river to renew his relationship with the Mecca of South Drakensberg.

Birkett, speaking as he traveled to Underberg for a week of river training, said every paddler felt the absence of paddling in this popular race, last held 23 months ago. the cancellation of the 2021 edition during the lockdown.

“I can’t wait to get back to the river,” he exclaimed. “Everyone is super excited for the Drak. Two and a half weeks before the MyLife Dusi it is also perfect for a tough race as part of the planning for the Dusi, ”he said.

Birkett said the key to success on a technical river like the uMzimkhulu was learning and absorbing a unique rhythm that had to be consistently fast and fluid on a river made up of many free-falling rapids.

“This pace is so important, and I think not having paddled the river for that long is something everyone will notice,” he said.

“It’s not just about finding the fastest line through a rapid. Sometimes you can choose a slower line that connects better and allows you to maintain your boat’s speed by staying in the flowing water.

“It’s hard to explain, but it’s definitely something you learn and learn over time on the river. You can waste a lot of energy by not paying attention to the river and always looking and planning fifty yards ahead, ”added the Team Euro Steel star.

Birkett, who now holds the record for most wins in race history, said he was looking forward to being challenged by a full river.

The N3TC Drak Challenge canoe marathon takes place in Underberg on January 29-30. For more information, visit www.drakadventure.co.za.

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