Underberg local paddler Stew Little has been turning heads with his meteoric rise at the start of the summer canoeing season and now wants to deliver a top result at his local major, the N3TC Drak Challenge in partnership with FNB on 19 and 20 January 2019.
The 19 year old Varsity College/Euro steel paddler has put together a string of excellent results in river races, often eclipsing elite paddlers with impressive credentials, like his win in the key FNB Dusi race from Ibis Point to Mbeje’s Store earlier this month.
Now Little wants to deliver a top result for his hometown as he sets about renewing his rivalry with Hamish Lovemore and Alan Houston.
“Hamish beat me as a junior and last year Housty beat me in the Under 23 category,” said Little.
“I want to get a good podium result in the Under 23 race and a top ten overall,” said Little, who trains almost daily on the uMzimkhulu River once the summer rains arrive in the Southern Drakensberg.
He does not shy away from paddling on the river when the water level is low, and feels that these conditions now work to his advantage.
“I would actually prefer it if the river was low,” he said. “My transitions are fast, and I know the river well which counts when it is low. I also weigh 65 kilograms which counts in my favour as well,” he said.
He will have the added layer to his race by watching his younger brother Scott racing as well, doing his best to snap at the heels of his older sibling.
Little will be starting his fifth Drak in January, but his relationship with his hometown stretch of water didn’t start well on his maiden race in 2015.
“My first Drak wasn’t great! I had a long day on the river, broke my boat a couple of times and ended up on a drip with sunstroke,” he recalls.
The Southern Drakensberg town will be rooting for the cheerful local star at an event that he appreciates the significance of.
“It is such a great weekend for Underberg! Town is full and the vibe with the paddlers and the other athletes is just great. We love it, just like the KAP sani2c week.” said the cheerful BA Corporate Communications student.