Wow what an exciting two days of river racing!!

(Photos taken at both days races can be viewed on….)


With the river fuller than previous weeks after some Gauteng downpours, some of the rapids were mightily exciting and honoured by the presence of Hank McGregor in our local backyard which added to the awesome flavour of the race!

Other Natal based paddlers who trekked up across the Vaal to the mighty Little Klip were also presently surprised by the technical challenging rapids as well as the pure fun wave trains and drops which made it an exciting 72kms of river, while the usual Highveld weather provided both sunny skies and heavy downpours alternately…….  McGregor magnanimously addressed his audience at the prizegiving commending the little river, while enthusing about how much he enjoyed paddling blindly not knowing what to expect around the next corner, with extensive experience and knowledge of most rivers in the world, let alone SA, he was generously enthusiastic about his enjoyment of the Highveld Klip……and was really glad that he chose to wear a spraydeck after receiving advice not to bother as it was a flat river – well nobody who has ever tried the Klip would be able to describe it as flat water thats for sure – they must have been thinking of the Vaal!

In fact some 15 years ago there was hardly a Klip river at all, and i clearly remember paddling only 5 kms from Sportsground to Caravan Park, as the rest of the river above and below were completely tree infested as a result of the river washing away the roots of non indigenous transplanted alien trees who can never survive the climate and storms of the savannah grasslands which we call home, on the Highveld… has taken years and years of hard work and extensive expenses, as well as hours and hours every single year for months, to clear the river section by section.  Despite there still being occasional trees blocks and dead tree forests the improvement over the past years has been amazing and we have a number of people to thank for providing us with this enjoyable playground!

Some of the more technical rapids claimed victims with a high number of long swims down a narrow channel after the first early waterfall on Day 1, with a few missing lost and broken boats,  while Mine Rapid neglected to provide its usual entertainment and carnage as a result of the higher enjoyable water level.  The turbulent Broken Weir claimed a fair number of swimmers as well most of the experienced A grade river paddlers managed the race fairly comfortably!

But on to the river race and results…..firstly – the TEAM award and medals were presented to:

The Gauteng four man team – Siseko Ntondini, Thando Ngamlana, Alex Roberts and Phineas Zulu won the team provincial event with a combined time of 19h20…….while the Natal KZN team represented by Hank McGregor (WINNER of the race), James Tutton, Marion Young and Mike Halliday – in a time of 22 hours 18 – and we appreciate their support of our event and trust that they thoroughly enjoyed the weekend!

With Hank McGregor unsurprisingly taking the top position both days, finishing in 4 hours 40 minutes as the top Sub Veteran as well, Siseko Ntondini was the first Gautenger home 3 minutes later as the first Under 23, while Thando Ngamlana finished 3rd only one second after representing the SCARC racing team.

The winning Veteran was Russell Willis in 5 hours and 6th position, with Michael Stewart on his tail finishing 1 minute later as the top Sub Master.  (Dabs/ERK).  The under 18 winner was also from Soweto’s club – Siyabonga Tyiki as 10th K1 in 5 hours 4 minutes.

James Tutton was the winning Master (KZN) while Alex Masina was the first Under 16 paddler (JCC) in times of 5:16 and 5:19 respectively as 19th and 20th K1, with Gerhard Steyn (LOW) won the Sub Grand Master category half a minute later!

Its always a pleasure having ladies on our river races, and as a cowardly female paddler in a mixed double myself, I admire these brave ladies tremendously  – hats off to Morgan Ziervogel  (JCC)– first lady finisher in 5:33, K1 30, with Marion Young (KZN) 5:40, K1 34 V5 next, and Monique Steven 3rd as K1 44, in 6:10……and there were another 4 K1 lady finishers who we congratulate most sincerely on completing the long arduous and challenging river race – Niole Willmott Under 23 (WP), Anya Botes (Cen) Under 18, Daniela Afonso (DABS) Under 23, and Alexandra Jensen (Dabs)!

The first finishing double position went to Serge van Hee and Richard Daws (FLO) in 22nd position overall, as SV 3 in a time of 5:22, while the first Mixed Doubles  boat brought in Ryan Simonato and Louise Pieterse (JCC) in 5:44 as 4th K2, in 38th position overall.

The Great grand master finisher was Mike Halliday visitor from KZN in 6:52, K1 56, while the Grand Master top finishers were JCC’s K2 combination of Anthony Phelp and John Rowan, although the K1 winner of this category was Rodney Carpenter as K1 63 in 7:41.

The race organisers who were a combined effort from JCC and FLCC pulled out all the stops to ensure an enjoyable race for all despite a variety of challenges, and were most grateful for the support from a variety of individual sponsors Franz Fischer, John Davenport, Greg Smith, Rod Carpenter, Ian Walker and John Wernick (Ams Haden).  Local businesses also assisted with support to ensure a good field attracted by noteworthy prizemonies, including CMH Motor s, G & S Racing, and Green Green’s.  H20 and Polyprint also came to the party sponsoring spot prizes which included a boat and paddles to ensure an enjoyable finish to an enjoyable race…while Lucozade’s delicious tasty refreshers rewarded them for long tough hard days work as they prepare for the Dusi – while a river race simply wouldn’t be rewarded without the eternally appreciated HANSA’s!

Grateful thanks as always to the patient hard working valuable marshalls, river trippers and especially to the ree clearers  –  a truly thankless task as each rainstorm washes more debris down to fill the gaps cleared by hours of sacrificed selfless time donated to the river clearing negating so many of their efforts so often!

Jennie Dallas