University of Cape Town (UCT)’s masters student Nicholas Notten has won the Canoe Ocean Racing World Championships.
The Championships were held in Lanzarote, Spain, from 4 to 6 July 2021.
The International Canoe Federation (ICF) Ocean Racing World Championships is an annual international race for long-distance surf skis also known as sea kayaks, where all the competitors race in one event for the world title.
The 25-year-old UCT student was born and bred in Cape Town and has always been close to the sea, where as a child became part of the live saving staff.
“At some point I started doing junior [surf] lifesaving, which led me to senior lifesaving. In turn, being a surf lifesaver I then became a competitive sea kayaking,” said Notten.
The world championships drew more than 250 competitors across multiple divisions (from juniors up to masters) from over 20 countries.
“In surf lifesaving there are various races in the different lifesaving crafts, one of which is the surfski. This is similar to the ocean racing kayaking,” added Notten.
Notten said the preparation was a little bit on and off unfortunately because of the COVID crisis.
“Us as South Africans not knowing if we would be able to make it to Lanzarote was one of the other challenges we faced,” said Notten.
The South African team, which normally has 30 or more members, consisted of only eight competitors. This was due mainly to pandemic-related reasons such as travel restrictions.
The 25-year-old said he just kept his head down and was very optimistic and, in the end, it worked out for him.
“The conditions we had for the race were a 1.8 m swell with a 20-knot wind, for the race I maintained an average speed of 3:21 minutes per kilometre, finishing almost a minute ahead of the second-placed paddler,” added Notten.
The 25-year-old is currently in Germany and is set to return to South Africa at the end of July.
“For UCT and South Africa, it is great to have people involved in sea kayaking who are not only participants, but are also at the pinnacle of the sport,” said the 25-year-old.
“For me personally, it means a great deal. I am very honoured to have the title, and grateful to have had the opportunity to race and represent South Africa,” said Notten.