South Africa snaps victory in both ICF categories

Nautical Channel
05 Jul 2021
NEWS | Canoe/Kayak

South Africa wins in the canoe ocean racing display in Lanzarote this past Sunday. The country snapped victory in both men’s and women’s races. 

The ICF World Championship took place in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, earlier on this weekend. Two-time world championship silver medalist Michelle Burn won in the women’s race while Nicolas Notten added his name to the list of South African men to win in this international event. 

In the female category, USA’s Ana Swetish could not keep up with Michelle Burn, finishing in second place. Spanish Judit Verges Xifra was third. Burn finished the 26.6 kilometre race in 1:42:09 Swetish in 1:44:09 and Xifra in 1:45:41. 

In the men’s race, Notten had an early engagement with Germany’s Gordan Harbrecht, but was able to clear out after two kilometres. In third place, South African paddler Ulvard Hart won the bronze medal. 

A challenging arrival for the ICF World Champ

Burn said it was an enormous challenge to get to Spain for the race due to Covid restrictions. These same restrictions caused several leading athletes to be unable to travel. Arriving from South Africa proved to be problematic, however, both Michelle Burn and Nicolas Notten managed to get to Lanzarote and win the competition.

“We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to get here for this ICF race,” -Burn, athlete.

However, sadly many of the world’s best athletes have not been able to travel due to restrictions. The defending world champions from 2019, Sean Rice of South Africa and Danielle McKenzie from New Zealand missed out on the event. 

In the men’s field, two European champions and two European silver medalists have missed out: Esteben Medina and Walter Bouzan

A different strategy and best conditions

For Michelle Burn, adopting a different strategy to the one her rivals adopted was key to winning the competition. She decided to go shallow, which made her go slower at first but in the longer run it paid off and allowed her to go one hour ahead of the other athletes. 

However, for Notten conditions were impeccable. He was used to bigger wind and bigger conditions, meaning it was as if the course was designed for him. 

“I think this course suited me, anyone who is used to bigger wind and bigger conditions. Ultimately it was what I was hoping for, but it’s an amazing feeling to achieve it.” -Nicolas Notten, South African athlete.

Great support from athletes and organizers

The Club Piragüismo Marlines of Lanzarote placed a bet with the Canarian Canoe Federation in 2017 to organize an international race in Ocean Racing. This contributed to the Atlantic Ocean Surfski Lanzarote, a globally known race. 

As they have celebrated this 4 consecutive years and with the support from athletes and organizers who encouraged the extra step, they went for the ICF Canoe Ocean Racing World Championships in 2021. With the support of the Royal Spanish Canoe Federation, they managed to be elected as a venue. 

Lanzarote “Island of Volcanoes” is now a bit closer to the rest of the world in international racing and now more than five hundred athletes from 40 different nations have gathered in Spanish waters.