Feedback – Hansa Fish 2018!!!

what a river / what a race!


Firstly short course…. the easy bit! with only 33 finishers in total!!  Its a long way to go for less than half the Fish, but for those NOT yet ready for the distance or challenges of the Hansa Fish its a wonderful introduction and there are plenty of big things to shoot and enjoy!!

Well done then to Warren Thiel, (Dabs) the top Gauteng finisher, a junior 1st Under 18, in 3 hours 13, the first Gautenger to finish – much better to have achieved this, and done well, and loved it, than to have suffered a longer tougher race when not physically properly trained, fit or experienced enough and which could have ended in disaster and return with unpleasant memories – excellent decision – well done!!!   

Well done also to the North West University Potchefstroom finishers.…. again – every year a bunch of NEW students arrive and have to get into varsity mode, study, do assignments, write exams and somewhere, somehow fit in some learn to canoe trips, proficiencies, and get experience on rivers…. and just when they really getting the hang of it, 3 years down the line, they move on and the new bunch arrive!!! not easy to run a varsity team! 

Carol Johan Van Buuren was the 2nd Gauteng short course finisher in 3:45 over the two days as the first Under 23 !!  superb result on training time available – well done!

Lindy Odendaal who finished as 2nd Under 23 was in fact the FIRST LADY FINISHER K1 on the short course – another remarkable achievement – great stuff team!!

Jacques Barnard with Bronwen Van Tonder who finished in 4:30 were the 4th Mixed double in the short course and we hope the race went smoothly with few hiccups.

Remember these newbies still have to tackle Knutsford and Marlow/Cradock – all that challenging stuff!!!!  its no walk in the park so well done to them all!

On to the main race, the big 80km with big water including the infamous Keiths which many of us opt to portage based on good safety advice – KNOW your limitations…. save it for one day when you have MORE experience!?  but even if you do skip Keiths there are PLENTY of other huge wave trains throughout the river, not just at Soutpans and stoppers / challenges!

I saw 650 entries when checking the batches/starts, before heading off to Fish not sure how many withdrawals and late entries balanced that out, or how many withdrawals took place AFTER starting, as we saw the usual number of broken boats, but there were 484 finishers in total in the final results…..(which included the sweeps) – well done to ALL who finished / hard luck to those who didnt – there is always next year and more experience / readiness to handle the unexpected!

It was the SA K1 River Championships but K3’s have become increasingly popular to assist with taking novices / new less experienced paddlers not yet up to the challenge, or in the racing category – with 3 strong fit paddlers they are proving to be a racing category of their own!

With 77 K3’s finishing this years main race……195 K1’s, and 211 K2’s…. that does count the sweeps.

It was a tight race between the top two finishers / Andy Birkett and Hank McGregor as we all wondered with baited breath but in the end Birkett did cross the finish line first, split second apart with Hank as the Podium 1st Veteran position as well – an amazing record of paddling achievements……..having jockeyed back and forth a few times….both absolutely amazing fantastic paddlers with superb records of achievements.

The Spanish Kito Vega finished in 3rd, and our own homegrown Gauteng youngster now in KZN, Brandon van der Walt was 4th with Clinton Cook finishing in 5th.

The first Gauteng Paddler across the Finish line was  the 5th finisher –  in the 1st K3 – Richard Fly (Centurion) with KZN partners, in 5:09 (Andrew Neal and Stuart Waterworth)

Siseko Ntondini was the first Gauteng K1 finisher at the race, as 6th K1 overall, in 5:10!!  deserving of his Gauteng red vest  completely expected in line with his historic achievements in past years.

The next Gautengers to cross the finish line were also K3 paddlers – Dave Hamilton-Brown/Grant Ahschlager/Andrew Maclachlan (Dabs/Dabs/KZN) in 5:17, in 7th position.  Andy Leith was also in a K3 with the KZN Herman/Oscar Chalupsky team,  (Dabs) as 1st Masters in 5:24 and as 3rd K3 so we had Gautengers in the top 3 K3 finishes.

Wayne Jacobs (Dabs) with his brother and father Bruce and Warren (Dabs/Int) finished in 5:37 as the 5th K3 – so much for a non competitive enjoyable fun family outing…!!

Done with the K3’s now…. and the next Gautenger across the line was a K2 – quite an amazing achievement for Phineas Zulu who assured me as well that he chose a non competitive Fish and just did K2 for fun, partnered with St Davids Marist School Boy Connor Erwee, the pair were the first Gauteng K2 across the finish line..the 3rd K2 overall, in 5:39  – very impressive that must have been a flawless race!

Bridgitte Hartley finished right after them, an Olympic bronze medallist  and 34th K1 finisher as the 1st Sub Vet Lady!  always an honour to have her at our races!

Gautengs next K1 finisher was Under 18 Sibusiso Chwayi – an amazing paddler, also worthy of his Red Vest – who finished as 35th K1,  competing against names like David Evans, Hamish Mackenzie, Matthew Fenn, Ulvard Hart, while born and bred in the heart of Soweto – no rivers, no rapids, only a public pool, and a small dam at Powerpark, as well as the small Emmarentia dam and the  mighty local KLIP river to give him the opportunity to train and prepare for this awesome opportunity!  Fantastic race!

HA!  I note that my earlier skittish race report which mentioned Gustav Smook as the 49th finisher (when I did a hesitant brief on top 50 finishers) based on the provisional results which did not provide age groups/first names or age categories, it turned out to be young JUNIOR Gustav Smook instead, although dad was a couple of places away at 51st, keeping an eye no doubt as many fathers would do! So well done young Smook – cut his teeth on the Lowveld Croc so perhaps its not that surprising!  7th Under 18 finisher, 38th K1, in a time of 5:41 while dad won the Master K1 category seconds later….. a TOP 50 finish for a junior – quite an achievement in a K1!

Chad Andrews and Andrew Hall were the next Gauteng K2 finishers – 5th K2 overall, in 5:42 (Dabs), and taking us to the top 100 Gauteng finishers were:

Chazani Gumede – 5:41, K1 57 (SOW)

Josh Loots/Ryno Armdorf/Peter Chissano – 5:51 K3 9 (VCC/Dabs/JCC)

Morgan and Ryan Ziervogel – sibling pair, 5:52, K2 12, 5th Mixed Double, 19th Under 23 team  (Dabs/JCC)

Richard Von Mansberg, Arno Von Mansberg  5:54 K2 14, SM3,  (KZN/Watuni)

Ryan Copeman / Daniel Pitman (EC/Dabs) 5:56, K2 16,

With the top 100 recognised and congratulated : (CONGRATULATIONS!)  the focus now for this feedback report, is on the K1 race  – as the SA champs event…..podium positions: or TOP 100 only.

Our K1 Ladies always deserve a mention !

Holly Spencer – 6:32, K1 117, 17th Female K1! (Dabs)

Monique Steven, 7:23, K1 158, F27, SV36th Female K1 (CRO) was awarded a podium position in the SV category at the prizegiving

Simnikiwe Ntondini – younger brother on his way to challenge the big buck!?  Under 23, K1 79, in 6:09 (DABS)

Zanentlantla Mbala – 6:12, K1 84, U18 (SOW)

Gerrie Moolman –  6:12, K1 86, (ACD) 1nd K1 Master finisher overall,

Danie Botes –  6:12:52, K1 87 (NWU)

Katiso Hlahatsi – 6:13, K1 89 (VIC) – ja very bad luck knocked over in the start lineup rush of clashing paddles Day 1 where K1, K2, K3 all jampacked together ….hard luck!

Wihan Venter – 6h15, K1 93 – SM7 (LOWV)

Gerhard Steyn  – 6:17, K1 99GM 2 !!! (LOWV)  Sheesh K1 GM – thats daunting on Fish – well done!

Meyer Steyn – big boet – 6:22, K1 103 (Dabs) GM 3 – well done old toppies – show them how to do it!

Brian Longley – Impressive!!!  6:23 – K1 105 – GREAT GRAND MASTER – 3rd GGM!! (Dabs)   Nothing scares this age group!!!  70 + age group!!

And so we come to the end of another funfilled adrenalin pumping, exciting enjoyable FISH river marathon!