Race Report: ERK Long Klip 30 August 2014




Despite dire predictions of freezing cold weekend and after the gale force icy winds on Friday, Saturday 30 August turned out to be a really pleasant warm wind free and enjoyable spring day as paddlers gathered at the Heidelberg bridge for the long 40km trek to Dick Fourie stadium in Three Rivers finishing just before the Klip runs into the Vaal river. 
The race was hosted by the East Rand Kayak club based at Homestead Dam in Ekurhuleni Municipality – Benoni.

With green new buds all over the willow tree fronds hanging over the river, swallows, avocets, kingfishers flitting all the way down the river, new green weaver nests and baby ducklings viewed from time to time – nature agrees that it is spring. 

Other wildlife along the way included a troupe of young monkeys below the train bridge weir by which time many paddlers were seriously tired and lacking in concentration so they may have missed the mischievous creatures swinging and bouncing around the tree branches, although otters and mongoose are still in hibernation .

There were few real incidents or problems on the river this week, with the first one being a boat gashed by an old pipe and metal plate propped up in the river resulting in some serious boat damage requiring the paddlers to withdraw from the race  ((although having found these paddlers cheerfully drowning their sorrows in the pub while others slogged the 4 +hour race, suspicions were raised that the pipe has been planted) and there were only a couple of swimmers at the major rapids, such as Mine and Broken Weir however there were a number of withdrawals once paddlers had done their quota of 20kms or so, and probably had no intention of pushing to finish double that distance although 1st day Fish is 46km with a second day of nearly 40 it is an important part of preparation to increase mileage and build up stamina and endurance. The Fish river however has a guaranteed water release so the river flows much faster than the local Klip at winter levels so the race provided good stamina training.
 The winner of the race was young Under 23 Thando Ngamlana (SOW) with Alex Roberts, making a comeback to river racing,  (DABS) chasing him  to finish 2nd literally 1 second later times 3 hours 11 minutes.  The 3rd finisher was Siseko Ntondini (SOW) who has been ruling the roost of Under 23 (and senior) podium positions so it was an interesting result and may have an interesting story to tell – in 3 hours 15 as 2nd Under 23.
Thulani Ngamlana (SOW) was the 3rd Under 23 finisher in 4th place overall, with young Under 18 Siyabonga Tyiki next in 3:25….these young paddlers are most impressive as they dominate the top finishing positions at our races!
The first finishing K2 was also impressively young Liam Stewart driving his father Michael down the long tough river race to finish in 3:28 (ERK) previously having achieved a podium position in the father / son combination at Liam’s first Fish in 2013.
The first veterans were K2 paddlers Meyer Steyn and Jason Brown (looking for company in the expected cold) but the K1 Veteran winner was Neil Barrow (Dabs) in 4:04, while the first Sub Master finisher was Andrew Cooper (Dabs) in 3:33.  Nicolaas Roodt and Kate Dabrowski were first Mixed Double and first Sub Veteran finishers (DABS), but the K1 SV winner was Vaughn Steven (FLCC).
Peter O Connor proved that age is no deterrant to top achievers in sport, finishing as the Grand Master winner (Dabs) in 16th place overall, and a time of 3 hours 47, as the 9th K1.  Patrick Thomas of FLCC was the Master category winner of the day as 13th K1 in 4:16, while Franz Fischer was the GGM winner one minute later.
Well done to novice paddlers who managed to finish their races within the cut off time limit despite the long and difficult mileage – Sasol / Watuni’s combination of Banele Thabethe and Loyd Ngqoyiyana as well as Mark Jaspan (Dabs) who achieved his first ever river race and qualifying point despite a snapped rudder cable which took up valuable time, thanks to buddy Simon Spooner for helping him achieve this goal one of the longest races on the training preparation calendar.
And a successful very enjoyable and highly satisfying long training event behind us, thanks to ERK for putting on the training and qualifying opportunity – we are no doubt all fitter and more confident than before !

Jennie Dallas



The smiling SAB Hansa Brand representative Delamaine Du Toit did finish the LONG ERK Klip with Melusi Nxumalo

The Mystery of the VLC K3 - seen at the start not at the finish

The Mystery of the VLC K3 – seen at the start not at the finish