Race Report: FLCC Final Uzi Klip Race : 30 November 2014


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It was a super race and most paddlers took the time to thank the organisers and marshalls for a really super enjoyable race….granted the better water condition and pleasant weather conditions played their part!  But there was a general atmosphere of joviality and cheerfulness at the river and was most enjoyable.

Surprisingly it seems the paddlers actually enjoy the first enter, first go individual starts where nobody knows what the competition is doing….surprising considering they used to moan about it.

Despite a couple of withdrawals as a result of boat damage or avoidance of the portage which resulted in disqualification, there were approximately 80 paddlers enjoying the final river race of the year in Gauteng.

Kingfishers both giant and pied kept us company on the river escorting us along short stretches before flying away to find another group to monitor although Bertie is convinced that they are his mother, father and brothers that keep an eye on him personally….good Catholic that he is …..and gets quite disappointed if the Kingfishers don’t look for him on the river as his mom is obviously baking in heaven, and too busy to make it to the river !

And a sleepy owl cocked an eyelid as we paddled past – for those who watch carefully in the camouflaged trees to see them – one of the benefits of being in the back of a K3…!

The water level was extremely high on Friday causing some concern to the race organisers weighing up portages for safety issues, and it would have been impossible to shoot under the small broken bridge at Heidelberg start, nor the “COLLIE DOG BRIDGE” and more marshalls were suddenly desperately sought for enforced additional portages, however the level dropped enormously by Saturday as the tree clearers tripped to check the river status, although Collie dog bridge was still a very low toastrack type bend.

The tree clearers and pre race tripping crew of 3 FLCC paddlers plus Franz Fisher and his nifty Chain saw spent hours shifting a massive log that had washed down from the top of Broken Weir to park in our line – such cheek!!! And we had enormous fun laughing as they stumbled about wading in the river, trying to keep the chain saw dry, lying on the log to tie ropes around it, trying to kick shove or pull it out of our line once sawed away from the main trunk above the rapid.  (Photos on GCU Facebook)

Once triumphantly successfully over having moved the darned log, with the line on Broken Weir open once again, the victorious crew paddled on happily to find a double tree down across the top of the entrance to Little Klip rapid. With no chain saw they hacked furiously with handsaws and opened a great channel on the left river bank, and smugly continued their trip home secure in the knowledge that the river was in great shape for a race!  However, the following day the river dropped another foot, exposing some rocks on the left bank, which the water hit and deflected a current into the broken sawed off logs – the gap between bank and tree gradually diminished throughout the day as the water level kept dropping, and eventually after some boat damages and swims caused by the tree, it was called a compulsory portage although many paddlers shot it successfully without trouble, any hesitancy caused a deflection of the nose of the boat. Paddlers hitting the wrong were also eddied out so towards the end of the racing field, the area became a marshalls nightmare!

Starting off with rolling wave trains at the confluence to Daleside weir whose wall was covered by water and was largely guesswork without a marshall to indicate where it was, paddlers shot it on the left of the gap with only a few swimmers after the actual weir rapid in the turbulent wave train.  Mine rapid, with a spread out field also went smoothly with better water on the bony rocky shelves of the left line and the sum total was one boat eddied out, one took the right turbulent line, one swam in the middle of the rapid landing nicely on the marshalls rock, while the poor boat behind it had to do an emergency middle line turn and successfully weaved through the middle of the rapid to exit on the right channel – well done indeed!  Many boats chipped their boat noses at the exit of the river LEFT line, where a rock was hiding under the stopper wave but those who managed to steer exiting on the right nearer the island were fine.

Broken Weirs new narrow straightforward line was fine, as long as you shoot straight down, really close to the tree on top – on its right side….NOT too far right as there is no room for error – stay close to the tree….or bridge the collapsed weir wall and fall into the boil line on the right side where the weir has not collapsed.  ONLY a few swimmers here as well, a handful only, while there were 3 boat breaks as a result of the tree on Little Klip’s entrance, generally everybody managed the awesome huge surfski wave trains well!

A couple of paddlers admitted to shooting the Pump House rapid, and there were also a couple of swimmers in the middle of double drop where the approach waves would have slowed them down, however all in all it was a highly successful river race and small wonder most paddlers were quite chuffed with their race finish!

We wont talk about the portage – we know its not very long, but gee the guys can moan about the couple of kms running with boats and HOW do they think they are going to manage on Dusi I wonder???  Running? More like a Sunday morning picnic stroll but there you go – we are ultimately paddlers after all….not runners or endurance freaks though there are always a few of those that come out of the closet at this time of the year and haven’t been seen on river all year, but they come for the portage!!!

Well now that I have tired myself out talking gibberish waiting for the receipt of the results, herewith the real race report!!

The Sowetans and the younger paddlers dominated the race once again – the ongoing proof that canoeing has been the most efficient and impressive of all the sports when it comes to transformation and integration with support from the unions and Canoe SA / National Lottery Trust fund and various company sponsors – our supposed “non swimmers” are whipping our butts literally!

TOP 7 finishers from the development programs….need I say more? And most not yet reaching their peak!  Leading the race Thando Ngamlana Under 23 finishing in 2:21, with Loveday Zondi in 2nd place in 2:22, Nkosi Mzolo 3rd in 2:28, Thulani Ngamlana Under 23 2:32, Richard Cele (VLC) 5th in 2:33, Alex Masina (JCC) first Under 16 in 2;36, Siyabonga Tyiki first Under 18 in 7th and a time of 2:36 and a few seconds behind Alex…..sheesh….. you whities are going to have to up your game!

Kelvin Byres was first Sub veteran (thanks to Shaun for paddling with a novice to prepare for 50 Miler introduction! ) (Dabs), and the first K2 was Gavin Steyl with peter Chissano (JCC) in 2:40, 11th position overall.

The top finishing Veteran was Douglas Jewson with his newspaper article write up already drafted and perfect posing down Mine rapid with fixed smile for the photo, finishing in 16th in a time of 2:44 while Meyer Steyn and Charl Hugo (all Dabs) was the SGM top finisher right behind him.

Top Sub Masters were Johan Nel and Brandon Head (VKC) in 2:44, in 21st position and carrying the badge of honour as the ONLY successful shooters of the MIDDLE LINE on Mine Rapid – what an awesome bit of paddling guys – well done!

Keith Beeston and John Roan (JCC/ERK) finished as first GM’s in 3:20, with JCC K2 in 3:24 bringing in the Top masters – Michael Stafford and Joseph Freedman.

The Sasol youngsters from Secunda did very well on the race which for many was their first Klip, but they cut their teeth on Trichardspruit so it was to be expected they would cope with a minor flooding Klip river.

Mike Howard and the elusive Franz Fischer (JCC) finished as first Great Grand Masters (70+) in 3:45 – elusive in that he was missing when we needed his Deutsche Teknologie and chain saw on Little Klip the day before the race……for which he apologies profusely but not to worry, FLCC’s Craig Smith has bought himself a new toy for Xmas being a later model which he is dying to test out on the nearest tree block – when these two get onto the rivers it takes a forcible effort from the rest of the crews to stop them from chopping every piece of wood they find, in order to salvage SOME kind of obstacles for paddlers to practice their negotiating skills!

Till next Year – have a great time at 50 Miler and over the festive and holiday season – and STAY SAFE!


Jennie Dallas