N3TC Drak Challenge
‘OG’ takes a Gandar at Drak Challenge podium repeat
Underberg – After producing the standout performance of the 2016 N3TC Drak
Challenge, Owen Gandar is keen to repeat or even better, his 2016 third
place effort when the two day canoe marathon takes place on the uMzimkulu
River in the Southern Drakensberg on 21 and 22 January.
While not quite being in the same shape as he was this time last year, the
lanky, likeable and easy-going competitor is relishing the opportunity to
repeat the occasion – a memorable and defining moment in Gandar’s still
“Finishing third at last year’s Drak is definitely the highlight of my
paddling career so far, especially because Drak is such a special race for
me,” confirms 25 year-old Gandar.
“I’m not quite as fit now as I was then so we’ll have to wait and see as to
whether I’ll be able to do it again this year or not, but either way, I’m
keen to give Drak a good go!” he adds.
Having progressed from the Under-23 Men’s category at the end of 2015,
Gandar’s third place – behind Euro Steel’s Andy Birkett and paddling prodigy
Len Jenkins – sounded his arrival amongst the country’s elite senior
The result also paved the way for a memorable few months on the river as he
went on to finish sixth in February’s FNB Dusi and third in the STIHL Umko
in March, both with paddling partner Murray Starr.
A year on and now deeply entrenched in the working world, Gandar’s time is
more limited than during his care-free days spent at Stellenbosch University
in the Western Cape, limiting his training opportunities.
“Having been out of the boat pretty much since Umko, I started training
again towards the end of November.
“With me now living behind Durban Underwater Club in Durban, I’ve been
trying to do as much surfski paddling as possible and so have used that as a
means of training whenever I can.”
The Southern Drakensberg, and the Underberg/Himeville region in particular,
is a cherished location for Gandar and one he spends as much time visiting
as possible – including the recent festive season – while the uMzimkulu and
the Drak Challenge both hold dear places in heart.
“Personally I enjoy the more technical stuff and so the Drak, being on the
uMzimkulu, allows me to keep up with the other guys a bit better than on
some of the other flatter races.
“The Drak is some of the best paddling in the country and with the scenery
and clean water, I think it is a race that all paddlers look forward to
While the likes of Birkett and Euro Steel/Kayak Centre’s Hank McGregor – who
pulled out of last year’s race midway through day two due to illness – will
again be expected to battle it out at the front of the field, Gandar –
together with his former Maties buddies, Starr and Andrew Houston – may well
provide a fascinating tussle for the minor placings.
The 2017 N3TC Drak Challenge Canoe Marathon takes place in the Southern
Drakensberg on 21 and 22 January 2017.
More information can be found at
Click to download the hi-res
The N3TC Drak Challenge 2017 Logo - JPeg
Having been there or there
abouts in a number of races in recent times, Owen Gandar broke into the top
three at the 2016 N3TC Drak Challenge and will be hoping to repeat the feat
this year from 21-22 January.
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