Records are tipped to tumble at this weekend's Avon Descent and South African young gun Lance Kime could be the man to break them.
With water levels higher than they have been in years, race director Jim Smith has predicted some "fast and furious" racing.
First-timer Kime, 22, will have to overcome a strong contingent of Australian paddlers to keep the crown in South Africa.
His countryman Hank McGregor, who will not compete this year, has won the past four Avon Descents.
But Kime beat McGregor and set a record at the prestigious Dusi Canoe Marathon in South Africa last year.
More than 550 paddlers and powerboat riders have registered for the 42nd Avon Descent.