The Euro Steel Highveld Croc race was another enormous success for Gauteng. Hosted by Dabulamanzi Canoe Club, the race attracted nearly 150 paddlers at the start line where the water level was a wonderful exciting medium /high level initially but dropped noticably throughout the day, while the lower end of the river picked up again as the Hennops flowed in to create awesome wave trains!
The attraction of paddling with or on the same start line as the cream of SA’s top paddlers, the Euro Steel team which included world marathon champions, Surfski Champions, and Dusi champions was a great drawcard!
Saturday 16 January consisted of 32km paddling with over 5km of portaging with boats, while Sunday 17 January was a 16km paddle with nearly 3km portaging.
PHOTOS can be viewed on Facebook/GautengCanoeUnion…..look for the Euro Steel albums!
The cloud cover and overcast slightly cooler temperatures than previous weeks was a relief to the paddlers on the long uphill portages, however they thoroughly enjoyed their Lucozade sponsored refreshing drinks at the finish of the race each day.
The upper section of the Jukskei river at the start, Heron Bridge School, on Saturday 16 December is a particularly technical and tricky piece of river, very demanding and challenging and the good water level helped a great deal to make the race pleasant.
Water flowed over the Friday’s Farm Bridge, ankle deep as the first racers splashed across, but was dry by the time the last paddlers began the gruelling portage to Mt Everest.
With some fun as well as technical and tricky rapids along the way paddlers had every opportunity to enjoy the fast flowing water. At the first Pelindaba Weir marshalls encouraged the paddlers to shoot the weir on the far RIGHT, ending up in the eddie next to the bank, however a paddler had a swim shooting in the middle where there is a strong suckback, which is most unpleasant. A number of boats were damaged during the course of the day as well as some withdrawals, but the majority were ecstatic after the experience.
The water level dropped more than a foot by Day 2, 17 December with no rains falling, nevertheless starting at the Crocodile Confluence some 18kms lower down than the previous day, on a stretch of river that is generally not as shallow and bony as the Jukskei.
Some jockeying of position took place and there was a competitve fight as the local Gauteng Under 23 Sowetans (Siyabonga Tyiki and Thando Ngamlana (SCARC) strived to stay with the top paddlers, to finish in 3rd place as 1st Under 23, in a time of 3 hours 50 minutes.
The winner overall was Hank McGregor and Jasper Mocke (KZN/WP) in a time of 3:42, with Andy Birkett and Lance Kime (KZN/WP) settling for 2nd place after a tough hard effort, in a time of 3:43.
Unfortunately there were no ladies boats to report results on, although a SCARC ladies boat did start on Day 1, they were unable to finish after a swim and boat damage.
There were however a handful of ladies in mixed double K2’s and the winning boat was Dave Hamilton-Brown with his sister I believe, Genevieve Curl (Dabs) in 4:46.
The first K1 finisher was Mark Garden (Dabs) in 4h14, as first Sub Veteran finisher although the K2 Sub Veteran winners were Raymond Rorich and Michael Kirkby (CEN) in 4h25.
Alex Masina was the first junior to finish as Under 18, as well as 2nd K1 finisher in a time of 4h17.
Barry Painting finished as first Sub Master in 4:31 (Dabs) although Nicholas Warren and Jason Howell were the K2 SM winners in 4:42.
While Robin Bolton was the first Veteran finisher in 4:37, the K2 winners of this category were Keith Flemmer and Sheldon Baker (Dabs) in 4:40.
Malcolm Stothard, hardworking organiser of the race was first Master with Mike Barry (Dabs/ERK) in 4.46 and Jonathan Thompson (Dabs) was the first SGM to cross the finish line in a K1 in 5:09.
The winner of the lucky draw prize – from Set Racing, was a paddler whose boat had been damaged on the weir when he missed the shute and was a grateful surprise!
The finish at Paddle Power was a festive affair and paddlers enjoyed bantering while they enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere of a riverside country restaurant……
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