Adventure Sport

SA bags double at canoe race

2012-08-05 15:49
Hank McGregor and Grant van der Walt (File)
Johannesburg - South Africans bagged a double at the Avon Descent Canoe marathon in Western Australia on Sunday when Hank McGregor and Grant van der Walt won the race overall and Abby Adie and Hillary Pitchford took the women's title.

McGregor and van der Walt were content to race the first stage in a five boat bunch as they were regularly forced to get out of their kayak to negotiate the shallow rapids and weirs.

"I reckon we got out of our boat over a hundred times on the first stage," said McGregor.

"We were happy to stay together, and we only worked to get away near the end of the stage."

Once McGregor and Van der Walt hit the tidal waters of the Swan river estuary on the final stage into Perth they were able to power away to open up a six-and-a-half minute victory margin over another Durban-based crew -- Darryl Bartho and Grant Woollaston.

The win was the third Avon victory in a row for McGregor and a maiden victory for Van der Walt.

The duo are training for their assault on the K2 title at the World Marathon Championships in Rome later in the year.

Team Best 4 Kayak Centre team-mates Abby Adie and Hillary Pitchford obliterated the female opposition in a gutsy performance, which saw them win by close on three hours, and finish 12th overall in the doubles field.

The race, one of Australia's premier river marathons, celebrated its 40th anniversary in the second lowest river conditions in the race's history.

The domination of the Avon Descent by the South Africans was mirrored by excellent performances at the Sella Descent in Spain where Michele Eray marked her return to competitive racing by winning the women's K1 title and Ant Stott and Cam Schoeman finished fifth in a very hotly contested men's K2 race.

On the other side of the world, Dawid Mocke won the US Surfski Championships from his Fish Hoek SLC team-mate Sean Rice as South African paddlers filled the first four places.


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