PHOTOS – facebook/GautengCanoeUnion

Enough of novice races was the clear statement as the strongest river paddlers hit the water running at full pace taking up the top 10 positions!

For those who noticed,  congratulations, you did 4 or 5km additional as the race distance advertised forgot to take into consideration the FINISH VENUE move from Dick Fourie stadium in previous years ( at the tree block under the bridge,)  to the Three Rivers Vaal confluence between 4 and 5km further!!  so a total of 21.4km river race well done – some of us felt it in our shoulders and back muscles during those last few kms but we are all a little fitter and stronger and a lot wiser after having been sabotaged by funny side swipes and innocent looking obstacles!   the most difficult rapid of the day was probably Double Drop ? and there was only one boat that didnt manage it with 73 boats in the race…..and the train bridge portage was definately the most difficult obstacle of the day so thanks to the marshalls who hauled us up and out of there!!

We enjoyed the opportunity to swop insults with the paint ballers who would have loved to splatter us as we whizzed past at top speed….. (sic)…..but we also enjoyed the Giant Kingfishers teasing us from branch to branch on the lower Klip while a couple of young 1 metre legavaan peered at us warily from river sand banks….  hope you were awake and alert and didnt miss these treats!

Another lovely Autumn day how blessed are we and grateful for the warm sun as the water and early mornings gets gradually chillier!  but we canoeists are tough and not woesies so we will persevere through the winter!  (HEY?)

It was good to see so many new faces and unknown names in the results and photos’s and noticeable that North West University based in Potchefstroom has taken over in recent years as the University team of Gauteng with no representation from Wits or UJ in official races while their new team for 2015 is looking most competent and efficient.  Victoria Lake Canoe Club’s novice program for Fish has also shown remarkable results with numerous novices, some partnered with experienced paddlers making them the highest number of paddlers per club on the river – matching FLCC host club who had numerous marshalls and sweeps etc besides the competitive racers.

SO on to the winners who were undoubtedly the Sowetan teams!  With Siyabonga Tyiki partnered up with Sibusiso Chwayi to finish in 1:28:49 as first Under 18, the first senior age group were second less than a minute later with Zonele Nzuza and Tom Ngcobo, while the 3rd place finishers were 1st Under 23 Thulani Ngamlana with Sipho Qoko  – less than another minute later and the first K1 finisher Siseko Ntondini in 1:31 as 2nd Under 18.  Their novice river team filled the 5th spot comfortably in 1:36, Lona Magadla and Livhuwani Munyai as 2nd Under 18.

Donald Moncho and 13 year old Jaydon Hunt broke their winning streak to take up the 6th position (FLCC) finishing in 1:36,  as 3rd Under team, while the 4th Under 23 team took 7th place overall, Soweto – Njabulo Ndlovu, and Khaliphile Nquku.

The Watuni K3 was next as a mixed boat in 1:38 with ndre Zandbergh, Natali Coetzee and Kobus Filmalter, while Greg Smith (VLC) was the 2nd K1 finisher  and 1st SubVet in 1:38:28 followed by the 3rd place K1 finisher Mzwenkozi Thinta in 1:39.33 5th Under 23.

David Ivy and Glen Sinclair (JCC) once again flew the Masters flag at full height, finishing as the 7th K2 in 1:40, followed by the first veteran K1 Mark Handley.

Daniela Afonso and Jason Brown (Dabs) were first K2 Mixed Double in 1:44, as 8th K2, while the K2 winners of the Veteran category at this K2 race were novice combination Martin Thirlwell with Marius Croucamp (VLC) in 1:47. The first submaster to finish the race was K1 Robert Macfarlane (Dabs) in 1:48, however the SM K2 winners of the K2 race were Anthony Welsh and Richard Carter (VLC) in 43rd position overall and a time of 2 hours, 40 seconds.

The Great Grand Master first finisher was Vincent Buttrick (ERK) in 1:48, however there were no K2 GGM finishers…..seems these grumpy old men can’t partner up successfully and prefer paddling K1’s….. although these old school tough hardy paddlers frequently train for the K1 Berg coming up in July which requires extensive K1 training opportunities!

Keith Beeston partnered with John Rowan to win the Grand Master category in 1:55 (JCC/ERK)

With over 100 paddlers on the water plus also Sweeps and marshalls in every conceivable crevice, the river was full and bubbly as paddlers enjoyed their first real introduction to over 20km river racing for the new season!  And the cold drinks and delushious boerie rolls made it all worthwhile!

Well done to FLCC and sponsors including Lucozade, Spar Tops, Kia Fourways, Canoe Concepts and Hansa brand – for bringing us the first in the FLCC RIVER RACE SERIES – and we look forward to the next river race in the series in mid JULY!!!


Jennie Dallas

for GCU PR