EuroTrip 2012 so far…


So far my trip has been AWESOME! I basically hit the ground running, and have only now started to relax and have some time to do  normal day-to-day things, like write this blog post!

Unfortunately I picked up a nasty chest infection before I was due to leave SA, which meant I had to miss the first race on my schedule, the Crestuma marathon in Portugal. It did mean I got to spend the weekend in London, which was the Olympic opening weekend. I managed to get tickets to the opening concert in Hyde Park, which was spectacular. Catching up with old friends, and memories of the short stint I did in London back in 2003, all made the first weekend a great experience.

Before I could get too comfortable, I jetted off to Asturias, in the North of Spain, for the International Descent of the River Sella! This race has been on my to-do list for a very long time. My first coach, and the guy who played a major role in not only teaching me to paddle, but also creating my work/training ethic and general attitude towards training and racing, won this event back in 1997. I always remember him telling me these cray stories about this race. The masses of people, party goers, the manic start and the great vibe.

Here is a short video clip about this year’s race, showing the crazy start:

Here are some photo’s from the race:

Michele Sergio and Birgit, tripping before the race

Team RSA

The race can only be described as crazy! The start is not in batches like at home, so over a thousand paddlers line up along the banks of the river, for one mass start! And it’s shallow. This year in particular was pretty low!

I had a great race, and ended up winning the women’s K1 race, just 2 minutes off Mara Santos record set in flood conditions. I will definitely be back, maybe in a K2!

Thanks so much to Fernando and Florentino of Parreskayaks for all their help, the boat and their perfect English!

The best English speakers in all of Arriondas!

The next day I got fetched my my “manager” Gonzalo, of Elite Kayak. Thanks for all your help, from translating, to boats to lifts! I was paddling a K2 race in Busto’s hometown of Villaviciosa with Danish Marathon paddler Birgit Pontoppidan. The race was pretty short, only 6km, but with the rushing tide and wind, it made for some tough racing. We paddled hard and ended up with a 3rd place behind Sella K2 2012 Champs Mara and partner from Spain, and the Argentinian crew.

Birgit, me & Team Manager Gonzalo

Monday we headed off to Riba de Sella (where the Sella Descent ended) to race a K4 event. Initially  was going to paddle with Ant and Cam, but luckily they found some male partners and I ended up paddling with Birgit and 2 young Spanish Junior paddlers. After getting seeded right in the worst position, we made a great tactical start, and were in 2nd place. After some hard racing we ended up in 3rd, with 2 tired but stoked Juniors!

K4 race in Riba de Sella

And that was that, one super duper week in Spain! Thanks to Ant for being chief organiser, and to Fernando & Florentino for all their help and the boat, and Gonzalo for being the best manager ever!

I got back to London in time to see Bridgitte smash her final at the Olympics and take South Africa’s first ever canoeing Olympic medal! All her hard work and sacrifice has paid off and I am very happy to see this around her neck!


The Olympics were amazing, London put on such a great show! I am looking forward to Rio! Now we just need Ocean Ski to become an Olympic sport…


I got to see some special friends that I haven’t seen in years, and make some new ones! Thanks to Nelo and the Legends at #47 for making me feel so welcome and my stay so great!

With the craziness of London, the Olympics and trying to fit in some training sessions, I am relieved to be in Poole with my friends Chloe and Pete, for some surf ski training ahead of the Nelo Summer Challenge. The wind has been blowing, and we are getting some great sessions in. Can’t wait to get there!


Summer in Winter


It’s that time of year again, when I am fortunate enough to jet across the ocean to some summer weather, and plenty of International racing! Thanks to my sponsors Nelo, I am sitting at George airport, and I am starting to chew my nails, as my first flight is delayed, and I have a connecting flight in Joberg to catch. My eventual destination (for the first part of this trip) is San Francisco, for the US Surf Ski Champs.

Click on the logo to go to the race website:

It’s my first trip to the USA, and I am so excited. The race has, in the past, produced some amazing downwind conditions, and I am frothing to catch some runs, especially after the past few weeks of river racing on the Berg. You also get to paddle past some amazing landmarks, like Alcatraz and The Golden Gate Bridge. That’s one way to be a tourist!

Next up is the Nelo Summer Challenge, I won the 10km event last year, and placed 3rd in the “Life Saving” style event. 10km might be a bit short for me, as I really start to enjoy it when it gets tough, but it is a nice change to the usual 2 hour events we do. It is fast, hard and much closer with regards to the racing, so a lot more exciting! Here’s the link to the event website:

Then I travel south to where it’s even warmer for the Portimao race of Champions. I also won the long distance event here last year, and placed 2nd in the short sprint event the day after. This year the course has been shortened, promising full downwind conditions. Here’s the link to the race website:

Yip that’s me on the race website! Cool hey? That funky Nelo Surf Ski got auctioned off after my string of European races last season.

So, 4 weeks away from home, 12 flights in total, 3 countries, and 8 events! Should be awesome! Last year I still had an extra 2 weeks overseas as I had World Marathon Champs in Spain at the end of the trip! One year older, and hopefully a bit wiser, saw me shorten the trip somewhat. I was pretty buggered after that trip last year, and arriving home just in time to race the Fish River Marathon probably was the icing on the cake!

This year everything is a bit more spread out, with the 30th Fish River Marathon only in the 2nd week of October, and Marathon Worlds being a month later than normal, at the end of October.

While I am travelling and racing, our National Sprinters will be trying to qualify for the London Olympics. I am holding thumbs for them! Today actually marks three years since we raced at the Beijing Olympics. Feels more like 10!

Last weekend also saw Hank win the Avon Descent in Perth, and Hilary Pitchford winning the women’s section. Well done you two! A whole bunch of South Africans where at the 75th Sella Descent in Spain, one day I’ll get there….

I had a nice break after the Berg, but recently have been  struggling with a wrist injury. I have been having to improvise a lot in training, but am hoping the break has done me some good.

OK, that’s it for now. Hopefully my plane takes off soon, so there isn’t too much of a mad scramble on the other side!