Race Report: FLCC Klip GCU K2 River Champ Trials

The FLCC Klip race on Saturday 16 August 2014 provided Gauteng with the trials for selection for the K2 team for the SA K2 Championships at Breede in September, while also heralding the start of spring, and may be one of the busier and more interesting of all the Klip races to date!

While the weather was overcast and drizzly which resulted in a number of NO SHOWS despite their entries! There was also an overturned potato truck resulting in mash potatoes over the highway caused congestion with many late arrivals and some were detoured off the highway early resulting in some lost vehicles! In the early morning rain, some might have turned around and gone home instead! Although wet while paddling is something we’re used to and I feel more sorry for the cyclists at their race as that’s unpleasant in the rain – at least we are dressed for wet weather!

The rain certainly announced the arrival of spring and there were swallows swooping on the river despite the grey day, while the willows have new green shoots and will soon be in full foliage blocking views up ahead as is frequently found on Fish River. The muddy shallow islands on the approaches to Henley weir teemed with bird life and both Pied and Giant kingfishers took an interest in leading canoeists down the river after Broken Weir, above which the dogs chase the boats down the river rapid – so wild life aplenty!

Marshalls at Mine Rapid were kept busy trying to reorganise chaos into order as the low water level caused some boats to be slow in front while their back ends caught in stronger side currents were faster, spinning them out on the rocky shelves on the left line, and boats not able to paddle at full speed, because of blocked line ahead also got into trouble as the current pushed them too far right into the middle of the river so crossing back into the left line resulted in them being sideways in fast current and lots of rocks!!

The situation forced many paddlers to shoot the line on the right side of the rapid while up to 5 boats blocked the left line. Unfortunately those without experience of the turbulent right line were not confident , nor was the line up always good having started out planning to stay left which caused a number of swims there as well.

The carnage at Mine rapid required photographer to help shove boats parked up on the island or blocking the line so many photos were missed – if your photo is not on the link provided, please understand that there was some real marshalling help needed at that time!  CARNAGE AT MINE RAPID!!

Click on slideshow for an entertaining view of the exciting mine rapid. AND Learn!!

If the file is too big on Picasa or you can’t access the site try the album photos on FACEBOOK – FLORIDA LAKE CANOE CLUB

There were also a number of swimmers at Broken Weir with one boat pegging the nose and stuck in that position in the middle of the rapid – which has happened on a number of occasions when the boat shoots too far to the right – best to stay fairly close to the tree trunk parked on the top of the rapid ie not even a full paddle length away – although it LOOKS like a tongue on the right, where the water drops down the broken weir wall, rather shoot on the LEFT of that so called tongue as there are broken bits of concrete wall below where boat nose gets stuck properly!

Marshalls were kept busy here as well so it seems there were lots of newer paddlers not used to the rapid which caused swims while they were getting their pre Fish experience under the belt as the weather warms up.

Little Klip also had a rescue or two as did Double Drop where paddlers were unable to hold onto their boats and paddles when swimming – this will be a huge problem at FISH where the current is much stronger and faster and no marshalls at all the no named wave trains and rapids along the 80km route so paddlers are urged to practice, practice and practice holding onto their boats and paddles when swimming.

Paddlers were however rewarded at the end with delicious spicy prego’s catered by JEEP /Sandown Motors Constantia Kloof, who also provided spot prizes, as well as free Hansa from SAB Miller and bottled water from Rand Water to quench thirst and cheer them up on the grey drizzly day as well as a number of lucky draw giveaway prizes including PUMA giveaways donated by Netzch while Canoe Concepts came to the party with paddles and tops to reward the hard working paddlers!

On to the real meat of the race report , Shaun Maphanga was the overall race winner in a K1 in a time of 1:29 –   the first K2’s therefore were the Gauteng team for SA Champs – Under 23’s Siseko Ntondini and Thando Ngamlana 6 seconds later (they did start in different batches so may not have realised what the time difference would be).

The first Seniors and next finishers in 3rd overall were Zonele Nzuza and Tom Ngcobo, 3 seconds later. The 2nd K1 finisher at this K2 race was Thulani Ngamlana in 4th place, with the Under 18 Gauteng team for SA Champs coming in 5th – Siyabonga Tyiki and Simnikiwe Ntondini in 1:31.

Father and son team Michael and Liam Stewart (ERK) were 6th finishers in 1:32, and the SGM Gauteng team achievers brought in Meyer and Gerhard Steyn – brothers representing Dabs and Lowveld respectively making an awesome combination of family racers less than half a minute apart.

First Vet was Keith Flemmer looking cool and confident despite the carnage around him at Mine Rapid in 1:33 (DABS) with no other K2 veteran winners to push him out of the K2 race – he finished 10th and the first K3 was Grant and Warren Thiel (DABS) with Mfundo Sithole taking up the middle seat finishing in 1:35.

As can be expected there were a number of K3’s testing the river and rapids out, as well as their combinations before the Hansa Fish K3 SA Championships in October – with 7 starting, 1 of which were marshalls in the name of SAB Miller Hansa representative, and one withdrawing after boat and paddle damage caused by a swim at Mine Rapid and 5 finishing successfully.

The first mixed double, not that surprisingly, was another family team effort with husband and wife Raymond and Linda Rorich (Cen) once again taking the podium position finishing 13th overall as 9th K2 in 1:36, although during this race, there was some competition in this category with 7 mixed doubles finishing the race. The actual Sub Veteran K2 winners were in fact Nicolaa sRoodt and Kate Dabrowski as the SV finishers before them were K1 and K3 making them the first K2 Veteran finishers, and also 3rd Mixed double as 11th K2, 18th overall and a time of 1:37 (DABS) !

SM first K2 finishers were Llewellyn Walters and Russell Blane (DABS) in 21st position overall, as 12th K2 in 1:39 and the first Grand Master finishers were the JCC K3 on their re-introduction to river racing to prepare for the SA K3 Champs, after hibernating for winter – finishing 28th, as 3rd K3 – Anthony Phelp, Andre vd Merwe and Bernie Krone.

Sadly the only female competitor (NO K2 tryouts for SA K2 Champs) was once again Anya Botes (CEN) finishing 40th overall as the first Under 16 and only lady racer (apart from the mixed doubles combinations) in 1:49. The only Master finishers were also K1 paddlers with Grant Ramsden (DABS) finishing as the 15th K1, 44th overall in 1:54 .   Paul Cooke with Tony Lightfoot (DABS) finished as the only Great Grand Master competitors securing their selection to the SA K2 Champs, in 62nd position overall, as the 31st K2.

So good luck to all those who will be off to Breede in September and we will no doubt see more of them training during the next few races provided on the Gauteng Calendar building up to the SA K2 and the SA K3 events which take place in the next couple of months!

Thanks to all the marshalls and helpers / shuttle lift providers, cooks, administration, timekeeper and toilet cleaners whose help is much appreciated to ensure a smooth flowing enjoyable and safe river race!

See you next week at the VLC Flat training race on Germiston Lake where a school league event will also take place!


Jennie Dallas