N3TC Drak Challenge
Drak legend Birkett eager for 2022 challenge
Underberg - Defending champion and seven-times winner of the N3TC Drak
Challenge Canoe Marathon in partnership with FNB Andy Birkett says he is
itching to get back onto the uMzimkhulu to renew his relationship with the
Southern Drakensberg paddling mecca.
Birkett, speaking on his way to Underberg for a week of training on the
uMzimkhulu River, said every paddler was feeling the absence of paddling
this popular race, last held 23 months ago after the 2021 edition was
cancelled during the Covid-19 lockdown.
“I can’t wait to get back onto the river,” he gushed. “Everyone is super
excited for the Drak. Coming two and a half weeks before the MyLife Dusi it
is perfect for a hard race as part of the Dusi planning as well,” he said.
Birkett said that the key to success on a technical river like the
uMzimkhulu lay in learning and absorbing a unique rhythm needed to be
consistently quick and smooth on a river made up of many pool-drop rapids.
“That rhythm is so important, and I think not having paddled the river for
so long it is something everyone will notice,” he said.
“It is not just about finding the fastest line through a rapid. Sometimes
you can choose a slower line that links better and allows you to keep up
your boat speed by staying in the flowing water,” he said.
“It is hard to explain but it is definitely something you pick up and learn
with time on the river. You can waste a lot of energy by not paying
attention to the river and always looking and planning fifty metres ahead.”
Birkett, who now holds the record for the most victories in the race’s
history, said he was looking forward to being challenged by a full river.
“The last six or seven years have all been medium or medium-low years and we
haven’t had a full river for a while, and with all the rain this summer we
could get one this year.
“That would be exciting and paddlers who have tripped at a full level will
be at an advantage, so I am hoping to get a full day or two while I am in
Underberg now,” added the Team Euro Steel star.
“Apart from the fact that it is such enjoyable paddling, it is so good for
your river skills to spend time on the uMzimkhulu. It is the perfect river
skills sharpener before the Dusi,” said Birkett, who added that his week
training in Underberg would be followed by meeting up with his young Dusi
partner Dave Evans in Pietermaritzburg.
“Gee, it is six weeks to the Dusi and we haven’t sat in a boat together!” he
The N3TC Drak
Challenge canoe marathon takes place in Underberg on 29 and 30 January 2022. More information can be found at
Click to download the hi-res
The 2022 N3TC Drak Challenge,
in partnership with FNB Logo - PNG
The Drak Adventure Weekend Logo - JPeg
Euro Steel's Andy Birkett will
be hoping to increase his incredible record of wins at the N3TC Drak
Challenge in partnership with FNB on 29 and 30 January despite a two year
break since the last edition of the Southern Drakensberg classic.
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