Open-water race draws classy field

LOCAL open-water swimmers will be able to pit themselves against the world's best at the 20th MTN Nelson Mandela Bay Splash Festival in Port Elizabeth this Easter.

LOCAL open-water swimmers will be able to pit themselves against the world's best at the 20th MTN Nelson Mandela Bay Splash Festival in Port Elizabeth this Easter.

Michael Zoetmulder confirmed yesterday that Bulgaria's nine-time world champion, Petar Stoychev, would be among the contestants in the Bell Buoy Challenge on April 4.

He said there was also a "big chance" that Olympian Chad Ho, who successfully defended his Spar Redhouse River Mile title this weekend, would be among the starters. The latter recently also won the prestigious Midmar Mile.

"It is a new addition to the programme and it is attracting a lot of interest," said Zoetmulder. The race, which starts and finishes at Hobie Beach, rounds the bell buoy in Algoa Bay for a total distance of 7km. Port Elizabeth's Kyle Main, who is also hoping to take part, said it was a "huge privilege" for locals to be able to compete against a legend of the sport.

Main said the event had the potential to become a second Robben Island Crossing and he expected swimmers from Western Cape, where open-water swimming was particularly popular, to take part.

Other events include the Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Ski Classic April 2, Ocean Racing Series World Championships (April 3), King of Nelson Mandela Bay (April 5) as well as a freestyle jet-ski competition.

Entries for the watersports events at the Splash Festival, which takes place from April 2 to 5, close on March 14. - Sapa

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