Race Report: NWU Watuni CC Gerhard Nel Memorial Race

21 June 2014

Despite the predicted – 7 morning temperatures for the Vaal River valley, the morning dawned with a mild -2 only, with frost on the beautifully kept lawns of the North West University Campus in Vanderbijlpark where deer grazed as the canoeists made their way to the Watuni Canoe Clubhouse on the banks of the Vaal river.

The race enjoyed superb weather in fact for the winter solstice day as it warmed up rapidly and layers of clothing were removed by canoeists and spectators alike and the banks next to the river were filled with supporters with hot thermos’ mostly parents of the little school league kiddies who also thoroughly enjoyed their first marathon race of the year.

Fires were lit for the chilled to warm hands and feet during registrations and delicious hot food was on sale while tasty soup was provided to all who finished the 26km slog of a race, paddling upstream on the Vaal river as well as up the Taaibosch!

A monkey also eyed the food tables with envy but was too wise and well trained to come closer although the children would have happily thrown him tidbits!

The race only attracts the tough and the hardy as a Berg training race and here 3 doubles and 23 K1’s who completed the event.  One new lady paddler missed the turn off to go up the Taaibosch and ended up near the barrage – although not finishing the race, she nevertheless had a good training session!

Loveday Zondi  (SOW) won the race in a time of 2 hours 14 minutes, with Cornelis Human (Dabs) a second later and Etienne Rawlinson less than a second after that! (DABS), while the first Under 23 Thando Ngamlana was the 4th finisher in 2:15 (SOW).

Kobus Filmalter  (WAT) was the 5th place finisher some seconds later as the first Sub Veteran and Mike Barry  (ERK) finished as the first Sub Master in 6th.  The first of 3 K2’s was a mixed double in 10th place overall with Sylvia Nel (wife the memorialized Gerhard Nel) partnered with Jerome Boulle (LIK/FLO) in 2 :30.

Grant Conlon who finished the race (VIC) was the Veteran age group finisher in 10th position, and a time of 2:30 while young Under 14 and under 16 paddlers from Likkewaan Canoe Club opted to skip the shorter school league race and finished the main race in 2;42 and 2:43 respectively in 12th and 13th place – Jonathan Jooste and Jonty Griesel.

Saal de Jager was once again the Grand Master finisher as the 14th K1 in a time of 2:44, and Mariette Zandbergh (WAT) was the first lady finisher in2:48, in 16th K1 position.

Joachim Weber with John Lawson were the next K2 finishers (LIK) in 2:49, 18th overall as the  Sub Grand master finishers while Lynn Morris (DABS) was the 2nd Lady finisher and first master, in 2:54 as the 17th K1.

Brand new paddlers on their first race were Gregory Dawber and Jack Macdiarmid (DABS) who finished in 2:55  in 22nd position overall and Vince Buttrick wrapped the race up in 3:09, 23rd position as the Great Grand master finisher of the day!

Well done to Watuni for providing a service to those paddlers needing the company on a long tough hard slog for training purposes and providing great hospitality as usual!

Race Results Here

Jennie Dallas