Race-within-a-race for Eastern Cape locals at Pete Marlin

The snowballing popularity of the annual Dis-Chem Pete Marlin downwind surfski weekend now has added importance for the Border paddlers as Saturday’s race will double as the regional single ski championships.

The race organisers confirmed that the single ski race on Saturday 5 November will host the P.W.Harvey & Co Eastern Cape Surfski Championships, and with the region being home to a hotbed of surfski talent, the race-within-a-race on Saturday will be intense.

The core elite paddling cell in East London includes newly crowned marathon world champion Andy Birkett, Josh Fenn, fresh from his Under 23 silver medal at the surfski worlds in Portugal, and his brother Matt, who won the Fish Canoe Marathon Under 23 title earlier this month.

The women’s race for the Eastern Cape title will be just as competitive, with Birkett’s wife Nikki in great ocean paddling form, with the likes of Under 23 star Jade Wilson sure to be snapping at her heels.

“It is fantastic to have the ECCU champs incorporated with the Pete Marlin,” said ECCU chair Andre “Bulla” Wood. “It is a great way for the ten clubs that make up the Eastern Cape union to put their best foot forward.

Wood added that the veteran and masters would add just as much spice to the ECCU title chases as the seniors, Under 23s and juniors.

“The more mature guys like Hennie Roos, Andrew Carter, Russell Seymour and Brendan Thompson and a few others always have top ding-dong battles,” added Wood. “We are really looking forward to these races-within-a-race.”

“On the junior side watch out for Daniel Van Zyl Smit, a superb athlete who is coming through the ranks,” added Wood. “We are expecting him to do well on the day.”