With the first of the elite athletes arriving in Pietermaritzburg ahead of the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships from 4 to 10 September, the venue in the heart of the city is putting the final touches to preparations for the big event.
Tents that will form the core of the athletes village and the spectators hospitality centre have sprung up alongside the NCC clubhouse at Camps Drift, while New Zealand and Polish Paddler familiarise themselves with the lap course on the uMsundusi River.
Race organising committee head Steve Botha is enthusiastic and says the preparations are all on track.
“We are going flat out, and everything is going in on time. The road into the venue has been upgraded and yesterday the big screen was put up, which adds to the vibe!” he said.
“The grandstands are all in place and have been painted, all the fencing and gates are in, so we are ready,” he enthused.
He said the most important task completed was the final work done on the level of the river that will host the Masters Cup racing from Monday, and the first of the world title deciders from Thursday.
“We have bagged the wall of the weir which has successfully raised the level of the Drift by around 100 millimetres,” said Botha.
“The paddlers who use the Drift every day are raving about that, saying it makes a massive difference,”
He added that he had enlisted the help of world champ Hank McGregor to locate the underwater object that several paddlers had touched during the recent SA Champs.
“Hank took us out and showed us exactly where he had touched something underwater and we managed to find a tree branch, which has been removed,” said Botha.
With the raised water level, this will ensure that all the racing that takes place on the 3,4 kilometre lap during the week long festival of marathon racing is not affected by the understern rudders of the craft touching any underwater objects.
“You can feel the vibe here. I can only imagine how good it will be when it is full of paddlers and spectators!” concluded Botha.
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.