The BASF Watuni Novice race on Saturday 16 April was a fantastic amount of fun with the water level still not winter bony low, and yet quite manageable and there were numerous new faces on the river, notably good to see the North West University students out and about on the rivers……

The awesome BASF embroidered giveaways at registration were a superb and most pleasant unexpected surprise and a festive atmosphere on a summery pleasant day added to the enjoyment of the paddlers at their first race.

The race took place from The Makery next to Scout Hall in Henley on Klip where delicious breakfasts and hot coffee/tea was welcomed by all especially the seconds……and finished some 16 km later at Danie Maclean Park in Meyerton, known to paddlers as “caravan park”.

Thanks to tree clearing crews last weekend, the Saloojees bridge after Henley Weir portage was clear and safe while the first major rapid on the river at Broken Weir resulted in fewer swims than expected considering the high number of novices on the river.  Despite the Watuni Marshall providing excellent guidance to the line on the river right, the fast flowing current hitting rocks and broken weir wall creates a great amount of side currents making this a very turbulent rapid to shoot and a few paddlers opted for their preferred drop on the far left – the centre of the rapid has massive boulders and is very shallow.

After the dramatic drop on this rapid, the rest of the rapids including Little Klip and Double Drop were walks in the park for the majority of the participants who thoroughly enjoyed the delicious foods available for sale at the finish.

While the race was a relatively manageable distance and stretch of river for novices to gain experience and earn early points towards A grade status, it also offered paddlers who have not been on the water forever a good opportunity to get their feet wet and get used to the rapids again, while some paddlers previously in K2’s enjoyed trying their K1 skills out!

The prizegiving leaned towards the novices, either in a K2 with an experienced partner or in  K2’s on their own as well as various other prize giveaways to bring a most enjoyable adventurous river trip to a close sending numerous satisfied contented paddlers back to Joburg….

The winning boats were experienced K1 paddlers Alex Masina (JCC) Mark Handley(VLC) and Colin Ledwaba (VLC) as first Under 18, first Master and first Under 23…….

However novice first time river racer 18 year old Leonard Geldenhuys finished 4th  as the first K2, with partner Melusi Nxumalo (FLCC) as 2nd Under 23, in a time of 1:06, some 3 minutes behind the front boat, followed by the VLC K3 captained by Richard Cele, with Anton Wessels and Josh Loots.

Our superb lady paddlers were led by Morgan Ziervogel (JCC) in 1 hour 12 minutes, with Holly Spencer finishing as 2nd lady in 1:14 manouvering superbly through the turbulent rapids in their K2’s making it look so easy…..

The second “novice” with experienced partner K2 was Lisa Currell with Paolo Magni (DABS) in a time of 1:08, as 1st Mixed Double, followed by Neil Butcher with partner Meyer Steyn in 1:09 as the first Sub Master team home (Dabs) while novice Rikus Joubert partnered with Benni Smit (CEN) finished next as first Veterans.

Cobus Wagner and Marlise Swanepoel (Dabs) finished as 2nd Mixed Double and 1st Sub Veteran in 1:10 with the first Grand Master and first Great Grand Masters close on their tails – Chris Visser  and also Frank Dabrowski (both Dabs) in 1:10, and 1:11.

The Sub Grand Master winner was Glen Sinclair (JCC) in a time of 1:11.

There is no question that it was a very satisfying and enjoyable race – and thanks to Watuni for ensuring safety and excellent marshalls, as well as thanks to BASF who have sponsored river races for many years!

Jennie Dallas

for GCU PR

082 857 857 1