Canoeing SA name strong ocean racing squad
Durban - Following the conclusion of a double-header of racing in the Western Cape last weekend, the national ocean racing team for the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships in France in September has been selected.
The squad will be led by the inspirational duo of multiple marathon world champion Hank McGregor and current women's ocean racing world champion Hayley Nixon for the global showpiece taking place in four months' time.
McGregor and Nixon did the double last weekend when they backed up their doubles win at the Freedom Paddle, with Andy Birkett and Michelle Burn respectively, with a national singles title at Strand on Sunday.
It will be a strong men's squad with the likes of multiple national champion Jasper Mocké, Kenny Rice, Nick Notten and current marathon World Champion Birkett in the side with youngster Josh Fenn being the reserve.
McGregor, Mocké and Rice were all medallists at the Dragon Run in 2017, the venue that hosted the last Ocean Racing World Championships, with McGregor finishing second, Mocké third and Rice bagged the Under 23 gold.
The ladies squad also boasts fire power with Western Cape local Bianca Beavitt, Nikki Birkett, Olympic medallist Bridgitte Hartley and Michelle Burn in the side with Melanie van Niekerk being the reserve.
Burn finished runner-up to Nixon at the previous World Championships in Hong Kong so has the podium experience.
Despite being the senior reserve, East London's Fenn will lead the charge in the Under 23 category with Mark Keeling while former junior world champion Sabina Lawrie and marathon medallist Kyeta Purchase will be the Under 23 women representatives.
Purchase was also a medallist in Hong Kong finishing second in the Under 23 ladies race which will stand her in good stead for this year's event.
In the junior ranks Western Cape paddler Uli Hart will be the number one followed by East London's Matt Fenn with another Eastern Cape star Zara Wood as well as Kira Bester making up the junior girls paddlers.
Wood will also go into this year's race more experienced having medalled in Hong Kong two years ago.
In Hong Kong, South Africa bagged an impressive eight medals across the men's and women's categories.
The championships will be held in the north-west of France, at Saint-Pierre Quiberon in Brittany. It will be the first time the World Championships are held in this region, and the first time in France.
South African Ocean Racing Team for the 2019 ICF Ocean Racing World Championships - Saint-Pierre Quiberon, France September 15-19
Hank McGregor, Kenny Rice, Jasper Mocke, Nicholas Notten, Andy Birkett, Reserve: Josh Fenn
Hayley Nixon, Bianca Beavitt, Nicole Birkett, Bridgitte Hartley, Michelle Burn, Reserve: Melanie Van Niekerk
Josh Fenn, Mark Keeling, Reserve: Daniel Jacobs
Sabina Lawrie, Kyeta Purchase
Uli Hart, Matt Fenn, Reserve: Jake Schoeman
Zara Wood, Kira Bester, Reserve: Jade Wilson