SA paddlers win Liffey Descent


19 September 2008


Lost amid all the recent good news stories in South African sport was another big success for the Rainbow Nation in the Liffey Descent Canoe Marathon in Ireland last weekend. Brothers Ryan and Greg Louw, paddling in a borrowed kayak, claimed victory to continue a strong South African tradition of excellence in the race.


The brothers, together with a number of other South Africans, arrived at the harbour in Dublin to collect their kayaks that they had freighted to Ireland especially for the race, only to discover that the container was in Singapore.


Go to the Canoeing South Africa website


They were, however, able to make contact with Irish marathon ace Gary Mawer, who was able to start an eleventh-hour search for spare kayaks for the stranded South Africans.


‘Fixing the boat’


“Gary loaned us an old K2 that had won five Liffeys, the first being around 1990,” said Greg Louw.


“It was set up with a t-bar steering system, and needed quite a bit of repair work. So we spent the day before the race fixing the boat instead of tripping the river!


“Luckily we had taken our own seats with us as hand-luggage on the plane, so we were able to fit those to the boat for the race,” he added.


The Louw brothers managed to get their borrowed K2 repaired in time and were locked in a ferocious tussle for the overall lead with locals Malcolm Banks and Dermot Hudson, and another South African pair, Brett Irvine and Julian Callebaut, who were paddling for the London-based Richmond Canoe Club.


Maiden win


In the latter stages of the race the Louw brothers were able to make their move to win their maiden Liffey title by two minutes.


“It was probably the greatest race of my life!” enthused Ryan Louw afterwards.


South African crews filled the majority of the top five K2 places, with Scott Humphrey and Christopher Couve finishing fifth. KZN students Dylan Scott and Mark Ussher were tenth and the mixed doubles crew of Kelly Howe and Craig Turton finished fifteenth overall.


The man who saved the South Africans’ races by arranging replacement kayaks, Gary Mawer, won the singles race.


World Student Games


The Louw brothers now fly to Hungary for a training camp with coach Atilla Adrovicvz before heading for the World Student Games in Bosnia. After that they will return to South Africa for the Hansa Powerade Fish Canoe Marathon on the first weekend in October.


They are both students at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth and have been the top Eastern Cape crew for a number of years. They finished seventh in the last K2 Fish in 2006.


With Ryan having bagged a third at the national K1 river champs in the Tracker Highland Challenge, they are well poised to fly the flag high for the Eastern Cape at the famous race in Cradock on 3 and 4 October.


Fish entries


Late entries are still being taken for the race, which has once again attracted a substantial field of paddlers from all corners of the country to Cradock. The event will also double as the Eastern Province K2 River Championships.


The Hansa Powerade Fish River Canoe Marathon gets under way at Grassridge Dam and finishes in Cradock. More information can be found at Hansa Powerade Fish River Canoe Marathon.






    • 1. Greg Louw/Ryan Louw 1:48:59 (RSA)


    • 2. Malcolm Banks/Dermot Hudson1:50:11


    • 3. Brett Irvine/Julian Callebaut 1:50:12 (RSA)


    • 4. Kevin Pierce/Vincent Pierce1:53:06


    • 5. Scott Humphrey/Christopher Couve1:54:42 (RSA)


    • 6. Trenton Lamble/Chris Muller 1:54:43 (RSA)


    • 7. Aisa Cooper/Dave Pringle1:56:40


    • 8. Eoin Rheinisch/Barry Watkins1:58:33


    • 9. Ciarane Cooke/Don O’Brien1:58:34


    • 10. Liam McCarthy/Sean McCarthy1:59:50


    • 11. Dylan Scott/Mark Ussher 2:03:06 (RSA)


  • 15. Kelly Howe/Craig Turton2:09:05 (RSA)


Source: Canoeing South Africa