Birkett back to defend his Drak title.

Euro Steel's Andy Birkett has confirmed he will be back to defend his title at the N3TC Drak Challenge on 23 and 24 January 2016.Anthony Grote-Gameplan Media

Euro Steel’s Andy Birkett has confirmed he will be back to defend his title at the N3TC Drak Challenge on 23 and 24 January 2016.Anthony Grote-Gameplan Media

Birkett back to defend his Drak title.

Two-time defending N3TC Drak Challenge champion Andy Birkett has confirmed that he will be back to contest the 2016 edition of the two-day race on 23 and 24 January, saying that he will be ready for whatever conditions the Southern Drakensberg weather throws at him.

Birkett’s summer season is focused on the 2016 FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon in February, where he will be paddling with his new partner, and former FNB Dusi K1 winner Lance Kime. The middle of January however will see the Team Euro Steel pair settle into their K1s as they prepare together for the Drak Challenge.
Having won the K1 title for the last two years, Birkett will start as the clear favourite to scoop a hat-trick of N3TC Drak Challenge wins and equal the record of three consecutive K1 wins held by Hank McGregor.
His Dusi partner, Kime, will turn into a serious adversary on the Mzimkhulu in January, as he also ranks the Drak Challenge as one of his favourite races of the year.

Birkett is not fazed by the currently low level of the Upper Mzimkhulu given the prevailing drought, and heaped praise on the organisers last year for their decision to run the race over its full 62km distance, despite the low river levels.

“Sure we all want full rivers all the time, but we have no choice with the current drought, and the Mzimkhulu in particular is heavily dependent on rainfall.

“At a low level it is still a fantastic paddle, and the fact that so many people enjoyed last year’s race from the top (from Castleburn bridge) when the river was low proved that it was the right decision by the race committee,” said Birkett.

Birkett and Kime will spend the first part of their FNB Dusi training phase in Plettenberg Bay, one of his favoured training destinations, before they move to the Southern Berg early in the new year to prepare for the Drak Challenge and the Dusi.

The N3TC Drak Challenge takes place on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 January 2016. More information can be found at www.drak.co.za