Would you please publish this in your newsletter and let’s see what comments, and possibly  some suggestions for improvements, we get from paddlers.


At the recent Liebenbergsvlei race, certain masters-category guys were complaining because they were not awarded a prize at the prizegiving ceremony.


They were heard to say that, because of this, they would not come and do the race again.


Before I go into making suggestions for a new system, I think we need to clarify a few points.


The situation occurred because the guys were the only participating boat in their particular age category. Their comment was that they beat boats from a younger age category so that should have been taken into consideration. That, however, is not the system currently followed by CSA. This is therefore not the fault of the race, nor the organising club – it is the CSA system.


The current (unsatisfactory) system is that, if the paddlers wanted to race in a lower age category, they should have specified such on their entry form. This, however, is not practical.


One can’t wait until the last minute to see if there are sufficient participants in your age category, and one can’t do this earlier without knowing the numbers in the respective age categories as you could run the risk of moving yourself out of a well-represented age category into one where there are insufficient participants.


Nor was the previous system particularly popular. This was one where any age-group participant automatically competed in all lower-age categories.


The problem here was, firstly, that we had situations where a strong older paddler won prizes in his own age category as well as three or four categories below.


While it might have been a fair reflection of that paddler’s performance, it made prizegiving very tedious.


It could also mean that that master could walk away with more prize money than the overall race winner.


And, finally, it was a major problem for race organisers to work out the race positions. A paddler could, for example, be first sub-grand master (but there was only one in the category, so no prize), first master, second sub-master (but there were only two other boats in that category so there is only a first prize), and third vet. Race organisers could not be expected to get this right.


Is there an alternative? We must accept that people want recognition for their achievements, and it’s very frustrating to be told “sorry there’s no prize for you because there weren’t enough paddlers in your age category” when you might well have beaten everyone in all the younger masters’ categories. Perhaps paddlers could give their views on the following suggestion.


The idea is simply that, if there are insufficient paddlers in a particular age category, all boats in that category are moved down to the next younger category until there are sufficient boats in a category. They are then, for this race, classified as a participant in that younger age category.


For this purpose, the suggestion would be that the measure be three boats (it can’t be done for both three and five boats). If there are fewer than three boats, the one or two participants in that age category move down. If there are three boats in a particular category, a first prize only is awarded, and if there are five or more boats, second and third prizes are given.


To explain this,let’s work with the following hypothetical set of race entries:


Sub-vets 2

Vets 10

Sub-masters 1

Masters 2

Sub-Grandmasters 2

Grandmasters 4

Sub-Great Grand 1

Great Grand 1


The rearranged age categories would be as follows:


  • Great Grand moves down to Sub-Great Grand.
  • There are then two paddlers in Sub-Great Grand. This is still insufficient, so Sub-Great

Grand moves down to Grandmasters.

  • There are then six paddlers in the Grandmasters category, so first, second and third

prizes will be awarded.

  • Sub-Grandmasters move down to Masters.
  • There are then four paddlers in the Masters category, so only a first prize will be


  • The Sub-Master moves down to Vets. There are eleven participants in Vets, so three

prizes will be awarded.

  • The Sub-Vets move down to seniors


The risk we face here is of “legitimising” the paddlers in a lower category by increasing the size of that category to an acceptable level with paddlers from an older age group.


In the above example we would now award a prize to the winning Master when he had only to beat one Master (and two Sub-Grandmasters). Similarly, second and third prizes will now be awarded in the Grandmaster category because that has been increased to six by the addition of the two from Sub- Great Grand. This is, perhaps, the lesser of our problems, but the implications would need to be carefully weighed.


This reallocation would probably have to be done by computer for large events and can only be achieved after all race entries are in. It would therefore entail a change to the computer race administration system. There are one or two other points that would also need to be borne in mind.


For example, the system would still need to keep a record of, and report, the actual age category of each boat.




  • firstly, to allow paddlers’ actual age categories to be reported. (for selection purposes as well as a case of “ah yes, I only came tenth in the Vets class but look how old I really am”), and


  • Secondly, for those races where details of record times are maintained, to correctly keep track of these record times for the actual age categories.



Brian Longley