Canoeing South Africa
11 June 2018
McGregor hangs up his marathon K1 paddles
Durban – Ten-time ICF Canoe Marathon World Champion, and defending K1 and K2
world champ, Hank McGregor has hung up his K1 paddles to focus on winning
another K2 title with Andy Birkett as well as focusing on his surfski
This was confirmed when the entries for this weekend’s SA Marathon Champs
and national team trials in St Francis were processed, revealing the notable
absence of McGregor’s name on the K1 entry list.
The most decorated paddler in the marathon discipline capped off a
phenomenal 2017 World Championships in Pietermaritzburg where he gave the
huge crowd what they wanted on the Saturday beating Andy Birkett and
Hungarian Adrian Boros in an exciting end sprint to claim his ninth world
title, and seventh K1 world crown.
“After last year’s climax of winning both singles and doubles at home I
pretty much felt that I achieved all that I could achieve in marathon
racing,” the Euro Steel/Gara Racing Paddles start commented.
“I didn’t even contemplate racing marathons this year but after paddling
Dusi with Andy (Birkett) we got talking about maybe doing marathons
“He understood when I said I didn’t have plans to race marathon and wanted
to put all my focus into surfski paddling because there are a lot of good
races and titles to win; there may be a bit of unfinished business for me in
Getting back into a K2 took a bit of give and take from both parties and
their appearance at the SA Marathon champs this weekend won’t be the last
time you see the pair in a K2 this year.
“It was a bit of a 50/50 deal between Andy and myself,” McGregor mentioned.
“I said that I would race K2 on the condition that Andy races the Sella
Descent in Spain with me.
“It is a race that I would like to tick off and he was quick to take up the
“So that is the deal and at this stage we are guaranteed that we are going
to Sella but not guaranteed we are going to Marathon worlds!” he added with
Having been at the top of the marathon racing world for such a long time,
the decision to give up the individual discipline came quite easily for the
40 year-old mentioned.
“Everyone asks if you just know when to quit, but I don’t think you ever
quite know, it just comes from within.
“Last year I made up my mind that if I won in Maritzburg I was pretty much
done and I wanted to win the race in my fashion.
“When I stood on the podium after the K1 race I had a bit of a tear because
I was thinking that this would be the last time.
“I made a promise to myself and now it is time for me to focus on other
things,” he explained.
McGregor’s focus shift to ocean racing comes at a time when the profile of
surfski paddling is on the rise. He was unfortunate to miss out on the world
championship title in 2017 in Hong Kong, but will be looking to tick that
off his prestigious list of titles.
“Along with the Nelo Summer Challenge in Portugal and the Sella Descent,
there are a few big surfski races with a new race in Ireland at the end of
“Surfski racing is definitely growing on an international scale and so there
are more people becoming professionals at it.
“I feel that if I really put my mind to it and do the homework I have a good
chance of winning the world title.
“The ocean is a beautiful place and even though the racing is tough it is
still enjoyable, whereas with marathons it is like a gladiators pit, so many
people enter and one man leaves with the title,” McGregor added.
The South African Canoe Marathon Championships take place in Cape St Francis
this weekend from Friday 15 to Sunday 17 June.
More information can be found at
Click to download the hi-res
Africa Logo (GIF).
Ten-time World Canoe Marathon
champion Hank McGregor has taken the decision that he will no longer compete
in the K1 race but will attempt to qualify for the 2018 ICF Canoe Marathon
World Championships in a K2 with FNB Dusi winning partner Andy Birkett.
The dream duo of ten-time World
Marathon Champion Hank McGregor (back) and Andy Birkett will team up for the
upcoming South African Marathon Championships hoping to qualify for the
World Championships in Portugal in September.
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