N3TC Drak Challenge
Khwela eyes improvement at 2017 Drak Challenge
Underberg – As the recent rains in the Drakensberg get paddlers excited for
the upcoming N3TC Drak Challenge, Sbonelo Khwela has decided to go about his
business in a more discreet way as he eyes an improvement in his previous
results with his marker set to break into the top ten at the popular two-day
race from 21-22 January.
Despite being a FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon champion, Khwela’s river skills have
let him down in some races around the country and after a solid performance
at the 2016 Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon he is starting to believe that
he can compete with the best in the country on the rougher waters.
“I have been in good form recently and I am feeling pretty confident,” the
Euro Steel/Red Bull star mentioned.
“I have always found the Drak Challenge to be quite a difficult race for me
because I have struggled with my paddling skills but in the past year I have
worked really hard on my paddling and I think that I am a lot better than I
was last year!”
The welcome rain has given the uMzimkhulu River a new lease on life with
paddlers revelling in the possibility that they might be in for a swollen
river for the race later this month and one of those hopeful paddlers is
“I would much rather have a lot of water in the river as the lower the
river, the more technical it is and that is something that I battle with
more than the other top paddlers.
“With that said I am feeling really strong at the moment and I am looking
forward to the Drak Challenge – it is a race I love coming to do every year.
“The top ten is a place that I have never been in at the Drak so I really
want to break into the top ten this year and if I could get into that top
five that would be incredible but we will just wait and see how we go!” the
EADP ace added.
Khwela, whose major focus is winning a first K1 Dusi crown in 2017, is in
the process of shaking the stigma that he is only a Dusi paddler and a
strong performance at the Drak this year could go a long way in changing
people’s perceptions of him.
“My weakness has always been my paddling throughout my career which has
meant that I have battled at other big races but after I finished ninth at
the Fish last year I felt that I was moving in the right direction.
“Although the Dusi is always going to be my main objective I am hoping that
I can do well at the Drak to show that I am always improving and becoming
more competitive,” added a confident Khwela.
With the elite paddlers starting to become cagey ahead of the Dusi in
February, Khwela feels that the Drak Challenge gives him a good opportunity
to see where he fairs amongst the best ahead of the three-day showdown from
Pietermaritzburg to Durban.
“We don’t get a lot of chances to race against each other from now until the
Dusi and with only a few more seeding races the Drak gives me the chance to
see how strong I am and if I am up to speed with my preparation.
“I think that I am in the right place at the moment and I am strong and
healthy so we will just take it race by race with the Drak being the next
big race for me.
“To do well at the Drak will be another big confidence booster going into
the final month leading up to the Dusi,” a hopeful Khwela commented.
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
With his favoured FNB Dusi Canoe
Marathon coming up next month, Euro Steel/Red Bull's Sbonelo Khwela will be
hoping that he can find some good form at the upcoming N3TC Drak Challenge
starting in the Southern Drakensberg on Saturday, 21 January.
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