Tugela 20’s was as usual good fun and enjoyable racing with plenty of flat water to ensure training stamina workout, however this year the weather surpassed all expectations and well equipped warmly dressed Gauteng paddlers were steaming in the start pounds on Day 1 shedding layers of clothing, pogies, beanies, scarfs, and kags!

With the scenic beauty of the surrounding craggy peaks, the Gauties were able to accomplish the +- 44km two day race on 8 and 9 August much more enjoyably than circling the dams in Gauteng during the Highveld winter!

There are always a lot of newbies, beginners, first time river paddlers on the Tugela so even the less experienced paddlers feel quite proficient and knowledgeable by comparison and this year was no different, as young paddlers under 14 streaked past the old toppies looking as if it was no effort at all!

As Gautengers go, our achievers did not let us down with Gavin Shuter (Dabs) taking the first place finish with Natal partner Benjamin Bradford, in 2:58 overall the two days,

Martin van den Bergh did us proud as a relatively new river paddler himself, being traditionally a sprinter with some accolades to his name,  finishing his first K1 river race in 3:24 over the two days, as the 3rd K1.

Chad Andrews picked a winner to take on her first river race, Michelle Haskins (Dabs) finished as the 3rd Mixed Double, in 3:43 over the two days, with Nicholas and Ruth Oldert as 4th Mixed K2 one minute later…. Third Sub Veteran team was another mixed double with Jason Brown and Monique Steven finishing up (Dabs/FLCC) in a time of 3:46 over the two days.

JCC brought home the first K3 with Keith Beeston, Mark Hall, and Martin Sly finishing in 3:49, as the 2nd Sub Masters,  while Grant Conlon and Tim Baker (VLC) finished up as 3rd place podium Masters in a time of 3:52.

The Under 14 team of Jaydon Hunt and Matthew van der Merwe (FLCC) finished their first river race together seamlessly in a time of 3:59 over the two days as the first young U14 pair across the finish line, and I am always disappointed when such young first timer achievers aren’t recognised at the prizegiving, while on the other end of the scale, the 2nd podium for Sub Grand Master position was won by Anthony and Paul Chappel (JCC) in 4:36 overall.

It was the first time a Para-Canoeist completed the Tugela race although he did have different partners on Day 1 and Day 2 as they were trying out a partnership for him to be a first time FISH participant…..Constant Oliver finished the first day with Natal’s Safety Officer who sussed out his proficiency, in a time of 2:31, while on Day 2 he poodled along with FLCC’s Bertie Baard and Jennie Dallas to finish in 1:42. Both days were successful and his overall time for the two days was 4h14.

Sylvia Nel (LIK) finished the race as well representing Gauteng ladies finishing in 4:27 as the 34th K1 finisher, and 17th lady, as well as 8th Sub Master!

So – Fish training now in serious mode, and the fun behind us – looking forward to lots of hard tough long double headers as we build up stamina and endurance over the next 6 weeks – Go Gautengers Go!

Jennie Dallas


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