I have a mate in Cradock, Ivan Stock. He got involved in security in the mid 1990?s and we became friends sharing experiences and tips in the security industry. Ivan always harks back to how friendly myself and Brendon Ah Shene were towards him by offering assistance whenever he was in Port Elizabeth for a visit or launch of a security product.
Many is the lunch we spent at the Yacht Club and even the waitrons there knew just what Ivan wanted to eat – “Ek soek ‘n groot rump met vet op, niks se slaai kak nie, chips and nie rooi nie!” Ivan is the epitomy of how accommodating, friendly and helpful ‘Cradock Se Mense’ are.
Moving on – I only see Ivan for the annual hunt but think maybe it is time to pop on up to Cradock for the 31st edition of the Hansa Fish Canoe Marathon on Friday, 5 and Saturday, 6 October. This event is planned and run by a bunch of enthusiastic Cradock farners who have certainly demonstrated great skill and acumen in running a successful event with a thousand paddlers year after year.
We were treated to a tour of the South African Breweries plant on Tuesday morning by Ken Russell and you can colour me impressed. Some of the stuff I learned was; Beer is thousands of years old, a completely natural product, the SAB iBhayi plant produces a million litres of beer every 24 hours, only four varieties of quarts are produced at the iBhayi plant – Castle, Hansa, Black Label and Milk Stout, 3.3 litres of water are used to produce 1 litre of beer and I was right all along in the assumption that the Castle Quarts that the Longhair and I quaff at the Algoa Bay Yacht Club will taste ‘fresher’ than cans and dumpies as they do not have to travel so far.
But, back to the Hansa Fish Canoe Marathon which this year will host the SA K1 river championships, the 18th time in 28 years, since the first national river champs was awarded to the race in 1984, that Canoeing South Africa has decided that the Hansa Fish is the best and fairest event to host the prestigious national river title decider.
For several years the race has been the most popular choice for paddlers, often eclipsing The Unlimited Dusi for entries, and drawing its participants equally from the Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, with Cradock being equidistant almost to the kilometre between Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.
The success of the Hansa Fish lies in a unique blend of guaranteed water releases, exciting rapids and weirs on the river, warm Klein Karoo hospitality and the festive vibe off the water.
On the water the country’s top marathoners have committed to being on the start line, with several of the big guns, including world champ Hank McGregor and four times Hansa Fish K1 champion Len Jenkins jetting back from the marathon worlds in Rome two weeks before the race. Eastern Cape canoeing supporters are also excited about the prospect of Plett ‘Golden Girl’ Michéle Eray making her return to the race after being laid low last year by a crippling wrist injury.
This year the Hansa Fish will wrap up with another of its hugely popular music concerts at the Sports Complex in Cradock, featuring Ashtray Electric and Lonehill Estate on the Friday night and chart-toppers GoodLuck and Pascal Pearce on the Saturday night.
“The Hansa Fish is the country’s premier canoe marathon,” said Riaan van Jaarsveld, SA Breweries Events Manager in the Eastern Cape. “More than that it has all the special ingredients that make it a truly unique ‘total experience’ where the visitors to Cradock can enjoy the warmth of the local hospitality, race hard, and really enjoy themselves off the water,” he added.
The event further enjoys massive support from university students and under 23 paddlers, who enthusiastically support the annual themed competition, offering a prize of the paddlers’ weight in Hansa Pilsener for the crew adjudged to be’ best dressed’ to this year’s theme, ‘Pimp Me Viking’.
Related: Accommodation in Cradock