Despite opting not to taking part in the 2023 Dusi Canoe Marathon, perennial podium finisher and multiple Lighthouse Designs Ozzie Gladwin winner Hank McGregor proved he is still a force in river racing circles with a strong win on Sunday.
Organisers of the Ozzie Gladwin were forced to change the route slightly due to the heavy rains that KwaZulu-Natal has experienced recently, and with four consecutive wins coming into the race, the experienced Euro Steel paddler knew how to win the Upper Umgeni shoot-out.
“It was the fullest I have ever seen the Upper Umgeni and as far as I know we had 50 cumecs coming over the dam wall so it was unbelievable to paddle on water like that,” McGregor said.
“I had a great day out in the sun and the family had a fantastic time, my wife Pippa won the doubles with Hamish Lovemore so she had a good one.
“Before the start I paddled with my son to the island in the dam and I missed the race briefing which nearly cost me the title.”
The race ended with a three-way sprint for the line between McGregor, Msawenkosi Mtolo and Banetse Nkhoesa and McGregor’s mistake meant that he had to make a quick adjustment in order to win.
“It was a sprint and I thought that I had got the win, but I looked to my left and realised that we had to run up 150 to 200 metres to the finish line itself.
“I managed to turn back upstream and get to the take-out level with Banetse and Msawenkosi and I managed to drag my boat past them to take the win.
“It was a super exciting race and it was a fantastic day out and a really well organised race,” he added.
Despite McGregor’s clearly impressive form, he has opted out of the Dusi in 2023 with a focus on the events coming up later in the year.
“I’m not training for Dusi at all at the moment and I am hoping to finish my season with the Drak Challenge at the end of the month.
“I’m also looking to take an off-season for the first time in probably thirty years!
“I will also be looking to build up for the events at the end of the year and with World Surfski Champs coming up I want to be strong for that.”
Christie Mackenzie showed her hand ahead of next month’s Dusi with a strong win in the women’s race at the Ozzie Gladwin.
The Euro Steel star beat Saskia Hockly to the win with Hockly finishing just under five minutes behind the two-time Dusi K1 champion, while the experienced Hilary Bruss finished third in the women’s race.