After a bizarre mishap ended his 2019 Bay Union King of the Bay attempt, Brandon van der Walt is hungry to make amends with a solid showing on 4 October and has scooped the services of rising star Dave Evans for the SA double ski title decider.
Van der Walt, who was involved in an exciting tussle at the front of the race, ended his competitive charge last year in a collision with rocks at the harbour exit that left him with a damaged rudder and crashing into the harbour wall.
“I was dicing with Stew Little, who is going to be the next Dusi King, and he was finding the tiger line through all the rocks,” he recalls. “I was caught on the inside and spent the rest of the race pulling barnacles and my rudder out of the bottom of my boat. I’m not exactly proud of my record being the only person to crash into the harbour wall!”
With the Bay Union King of the Bay awarded the rights to decide the national double ski titles, the entire competitive focus has shifted to doubles, and Van der Walt was happy to secure teenager Dave Evans as his partner for the event after successfully coaching him through his last two years at high school.
“I never coached him for his first silver medal at worlds, but it was special being part of the journey to his podiums on the next two marathon worlds,” said the Maritzburg College teacher and canoeing master.
“I know that with Dave in the back seat I will have a proper engine from start to finish,” he added.
Van der Walt said that after a frustrating start to the lockdown, he has found solid form ahead of the weekend, which starts a period of eight days in which four national titles will be decided between Durban harbour and St. Francis in the Eastern Cape.
“I feel like I am going better now than I have at any stage since moving to Pietermaritzburg. I am really ready to put my hand up,” he said.
He showed that form at the recent Pirates Umhlanga Pirates surfski race where he took off on a solo charge at the front of the race that shook the rest of the elite field.
“I am really looking forward to the race,” he added. “The King of the Bay always pulls a big entry because it is so accessible to everyday paddlers. It will be the first big paddling event in Durban after the lockdown, so I expect everyone who owns a surfski to show just how keen people are to get back onto the water again.”
“The organisers of the Bay Union King of the Bay always put on one of the most incredible shows, so half the reason people come back year after year is to enjoy the whole race experience.
“It will be special having it as SA S2 Champs and the first mainstream race in Durban back after the lockdown. I am sure everyone will play their part with the Covid regulations.
“The lightee is frothing. I am frothing. I am sure everyone else is feeling the same way too,” he concluded.
More information can be found at www.kotb.co.za