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As paddlers become more proficient and fitter, the races are getting longer and the 30km river race from Heidelberg Bridge through Daleside and Henley on Klip to finish at the caravan park in Meyerton was a good training race bringing endurance levels up to almost Day 1 of Fish….!


Gathering swallows were a sign that the end of winter is near, and certainly the smells of fertiliser / manure that drifted in the breezes from farms were further indication that the soil enrichment and ploughing preparations for the new sowing season is also gaining ground while farmers pumps are already sucking water out of the river dropping the already low winter levels to bony levels!


Early morning sickly sweet aroma’s of cow feed mulch also drifted on the breeze,  from the nearby cowsheds while Giant Kingfishers checked the canoes out carefully flitting from tree to tree just along the surface of the water.  A young legavaan also watched the race cautiously while basking on its sunny ledge with crevices to hide in on the bare mud bank.


There were a couple of swimmers at Daleside weir but generally it is easy enough to get through with a little pace, however the usual carnage erupted at Mine Rapid despite the field being more spread 7km down river from the start.


The photos will tell the story although the sun rising in the camera lens and the glittering sparkling river surface creates more silhouettes than good pics – nevertheless it is easy to see that those who were able to turn the corner TIGHT left into MINE rapid, and hug the left bank paddling confidently in a straight line as near to the left bank and rocks as possible, keeping the pace up to glide smoothly over the rocky shallow shelves had no problems at all.


The boats that came around the corner entering the rapid –  WIDE – into the fast current in the middle of the river rather than the eddy on the left –  battled to get back to the left bank to line up with the channel lower down, and in most cases had to turn sideways (LEFT) on the river just near the log lodged on the middle rocks, to try to get to the line on the left – and frequently were unable to straighten out and continue to the exit of the left line – sideways across the river and disaster strikes.  Especially longer boats ie K3’s…..


Many swims and a couple of broken boats and lost paddles while many paddlers were forced to take the right line against their preference as the line on the left was blocked…..a good learning curve!


The line on the right side of the rapid seems more straightforward although very turbulent  – it seems that a good pace through the turbulence provides good stability and a straightforward drop and shoot through the exit, although a good number of paddlers who have never shot the right side of the rapid, and were reluctant to do so, but were forced to do so as the left line was blocked periodically, were too hesitant and tentative and ended up swimming in the turbulence.


Numerous lost and broken paddles including some at Broken Weir where there were another dozen swimmers heralded an expensive outing… rescued a number of boats and paddles floating below the broken weir as well as caught in trees on the river bank edge where they eddy out.


It was a great day for all warm and pleasant despite the lower water levels and bump and grind!


The winners were Siyabonga Tyiki with Tom Ngcobo in 1:53 (SOW) with Under 16 Alex Masina partnered with Sibusiso Chwayi (JCC/SOW) some 17 seconds later as first Under 16 and junior team in 2nd place while Marco Magni and Alex Roberts (DABS) took the third podium position 13 seconds after that in 1:53:36.


The first Mixed double finished in 6th place overall Kirsty Fox and Michael Stewart (ERK) in 2:03, and the first K1 finisher was Phineas Zulu in 7th, (SOW) in 2:03, while the winning Under 18 team was Lona Magadla and Khaliphile Nquku (SOW) in 2:04.  The top under 23 team was the 2nd mixed double with Morgan Ziervogel and brother Ryan in 2:07, and the first veteran following on their heels in 2:08:27 was Watuni’s Kobus Filmalter, although a K2 race, with no Veteran K2 winners. Glen Sinclair and David Ivy (JCC)  with an unbroken record winning the Master category finishing in 2:12 as the 10th K2,   and 14th overall, were followed by Nicolaas Roodt and Frank Dabrowski (Dabs) as the first Sub Master boat – is Nicolaas Roodt really a Sub Master!?


Andre van der Merwe with Tony Phelp and Paul Chappel (JCC) were the winning K3 as well as first Sub Grand Master finishers in 2:13, and the first Sub Veterans to finish were the 3rd Mixed Double, Jason Brown and Monique Steven (DABS/FLCC) in 2:19.


The first finishing Great Grand Master team was Vincent Buttrick (ERK) in 2:25 while it was John Rowan and Keith Beeston (ERK/JCC) who won the Grand master category in 2:28


Well done to first ladies, Mariette Zandbergh and Natali Coetzee (WAT) who finished in 2:49 as 29th K2.    Another Sowetan ladies team also had a difficult time with swims at Mine Rapid and Broken weir and lost paddles which took up time but they finished in 3 :13 as an Under 18 girls team so well done to Asanda Ndlovu and Sneziwe Gxobole!


66 paddlers in 33 K2’s and 13 K1’s finished the race as well as 5 K3’s…..


Lotsa fun and enjoyment and lots of entertainment – check out the photos – sorry I didnt get good pics of those shooting the line on the far right but all the swimmers and boats being repaired on my island kept getting in the way!


Jennie Dallas

for GCU PR

082 857 857 1