World Marathon paddler Hank McGregor ready to defend 2019 Prescient Freedom Paddle title
CAPE TOWN - Despite a truncated season that has been adjusted according to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, 11-time World Marathon Paddler Hank McGregor will be out to defend his 2019 Prescient Freedom Paddle title when the postponed event takes place on Saturday.
Previously set for Freedom Day earlier this year, the 2020 edition sees South Africa’s top paddlers racing for title honours and the prestige of finishing a 27km paddle around Robben Island. Among the top contenders in the Doubles (or S2) category will be McGregor and Josh Fenn, a rising star who is fast proving to be a top ocean paddler.
Exposed to the ocean and paddling from a young age, Fenn is the perfect fit to the highly competitive and prolific McGregor, who recently partnered with another talented youngster, Hamish Lovemore, to claim the K2 title at the SA Marathon Championships in early-October.
McGregor offers years of paddling experience and his uncanny ability to adapt to different partners makes him a firm favourite for Prescient Freedom Paddle honours, while the Cape crew of Kenny Rice – winner of the Cape Point Challenge – and Nic Notten, will be looking to spoil the party and keep all the major Surfski titles in the Western Province.
Rice had a breakthrough 2019, winning four World Cup Surfski events and was looking forward to a stellar 2020 until the global pandemic put paid to those aspirations. Regroup and rebuild has been the order of the day for many contenders on the world stage, so there is an unknown quantity about the current form of the competing field.
The top Ladies crew is a similar pairing of youth and experience with Jenna Ward and 16-year-old Saskia Hockly. Ward is no stranger to the open ocean or racing on the world stage, being a World Marathon Championships silver medalist and holding multiple Surfski titles.
The duo has created an exciting partnership that makes them firm favourites, and Hockly will benefit from the massive experience that Ward brings as they push hard towards claiming a maiden Prescient Freedom Paddle title.
Only a limited number of people are allowed at the race start at the Oceana Power Boat Club, which is strictly in line with Covid-19 lockdown protocols that ensures event safety compliance.