South Africa

Back-to-back wins for Birkett

2014-07-18 18:56
Andy Birkett (John Hishin/ Gameplan Media)
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Zoutkloof – It was another day to savour on the Berg River for current Under-23 Canoe Marathon World Champion Andy Birkett who claimed his second successive stage win on the longest day of the Berg River Canoe Marathon whilst Abby Adie continued to assert her dominance over the ladies field with a convincing third stage win to retain her leader's bib heading into the final stage into Velddrif on Saturday.

Dry but blustery conditions were what the paddlers dealt with following the customary reverse, batched start on the third day and by the portage at the Misverstand Dam wall the familiar front group of Birkett, Graeme Solomon, Simon van Gysen and Jasper Mocké had been joined by 2013 Berg champion Lance King.

The group broke down into four boats following the bridge prize at the Moravia Bridge – that went Mocké way – as the fore mentioned could not maintain his pace and Birkett and co. piled on the pressure to narrow the front group to four.

"Five boats is just too many in the group and you end up scratching at the back and after Jasper Mocké put in the hurt early in the day, he paid the price later on when he blew and he dropped off the group,” the current leader said.

Following the 75km stage, Birkett was happy with his efforts and the way in which he again managed to stay with the more experienced Western Cape paddlers for the entire day and his ability to retain the yellow leader's bib.

"I am very stoked to have stayed with the front group the whole way. 75km is a long way to be paddling and the guys held a good pace the whole way so I am happy to have outsprinted them at the end because I didn't think that I had it in my arms and so I'm chuffed with my race today.

"I didn't think that I would be the leader of the race so I am really chuffed and there is pressure on me going into the final stage but I know for sure that I can take some good training out of this year's Ber!” the EuroSteel star commented.

Having a stage win under the belt already, Bamboo Warehouse paddler Solomon was a happy man when they finished the third stage on Friday.

"I am very glad to be at the end of day three, it is always a long one and today was particularly long because it was so cold so I'm definitely glad to have gotten to the end,” a relieved Solomon said. 

It was another red-hot day when it came to the racing which Solomon realised would be the case early on.

"The pace was very fast today and on the dam, for example, guys usually take it easy and try and consolidate to the dam wall but with Andy and Jasper not being experienced on the Berg and I don't think they realised how long day three actually is, the net result was that the guys were going quite a lot faster than what the bunch normally does.

"For the first time in years the top three guys are separated by fifteen seconds or so which is very exciting because normally by this stage of the race someone has a lead of a couple of minutes in the bag. With just a couple of seconds anything can still happen!” he said ahead of the 59km final stage.

Abby Adie has all but made the women’s title her own already with Saturday’s fourth and final stage yet to even take place, such has been her dominance over the rest of the ladies in the field.

The Best 4 Healthcare/Kayak Centre competitor started day three with just over twenty minutes in the bag and a third consecutive of complete dominance now sees her with a nearly thirty six minute buffer.

It was however still just as long a day for the Natal Canoe Club paddler as it was for her chasers and the 24 year old will have to dig deep to find the energy required just to plod along on day four to the finish line.

“Today was a seriously grueling stage with the tough headwind once again and just the distance kills you, so I’m very happy to be here in one piece!” said Adie.

“Coming in to the race I didn't expect to be placed so well overall but starting in 24th today I knew I was going to lose a few places to the men so I am just really happy to be here.

“I hope there is something left in the tank for tomorrow but it is a mental race from here and I have quite a big buffer so it is more a case of survival and just getting to the end in one piece,” she added.

Adie’s twin sister Alex had another solid day on the water and was again the second lady home, once again taking some significant time out of Bianca Beavitt’s stage one five minute and forty second advantage however Beavitt still enjoys a two minute and nine lead over Alex Adie and second place overall.

2013 women’s runner-up Kirsten Penderis was dramatically forced out of the race altogether before the starter’s gun fired on Friday after the AQRate paddler suffered serve pain in her right wrist and forearm due to tendonitis she picked up during this year’s Swartland Canoe Marathon.

“I was pretty sore after yesterday and saw the physio last night. I hoped it would get a bit better after some treatment but in fact it got worse as the night went on and by this morning I couldn’t even hold my toothbrush!” explained Penderis.

“I called my coach and we both just agreed there wasn’t any point risking damaging it seriously, even permanently, so it was disappointing to have to pull out but I’ve still got quite a few years of competing in me that there was no point in risking,” she added.

Penderis’ withdrawal saw overnight fifth place holder Lauren Felgate (MacSquad Elite) climb up to fourth in her first ever berg outing and leads the charge in the under-23 women’s race.

Former Dusi winner Lance Kime, tenth overall, still enjoys first spot in the men’s under-23 category while Computershare Change a Life Academy’s Mthobisi Cele and Mpilo Zondi lead the race to the boy’s under-18 and under-16 titles respectively.

Saturday's fourth and final stage of the Berg River Canoe Marathon sees paddlers head from Bridgetown to the finish at Velddrif with the winners expected to arrive shortly after midday. More info can be found at www.berg.org.za

SUMMARY OF RESULTS – 2014 BERG RIVER CANOE MARATHON

STAGE THREE

Overall

1. Andy Birkett 5:12.40 12:37.55
2. Graeme Solomon 5:12.43 12:38.05
3. Simon van Gysen 5:12.48 12:38.12
4. Jasper Mocké 5:18.44 12:46.09
5. Lance King 5:12.55 12:59.00
6. Louw van Riet 5:21.56 13:01.40
7. Edgar Boehm Jnr 5:26.26 13:04.11
8. Thulani Mbanjwa 5:24.13 13:07.12
9. Lee McGregor 5:26.27 13:08.26
10. Lance Kime (U23) 5:26.17 13:09.16
11. Luke Stowman (U23) 5:26.27 13:12.30
12. Heinrich Schloms 5:26.19 13:16.23
13. Paul Marais 5:26.54 13:24.50
14. Sbonelo Kwhela 5:34.10 13:37.00
15. Dominic Notten (U23) 5:38.44 13:39.32
16. Clinton Cook (U23) 5:40.35 13:41.22
17. Tyler Wilson (U23) 5:35.32 13:41.48
18. Travis Wilson (U23) 5:35.33 13:41.49
19. Irvin Dixon (U23) 5:34.59 13:42.42
20. Ashley Carsten 5:34.04 13:47.32

Women

1. Abby Adie 5:40.36 13:52.11
2. Bianca Beavitt 5:56.17 14:27.55
3. Alex Adie 5:54.02 14:30.04
4. Lauren Felgate (U23) 6:12.24 15:22.19
5. Hayley Arthur 6:15.11 15:50.19

U23 Men

1. Lance Kime 5:26.17 13:09.16
2. Luke Stowman 5:26.27 13:12.30
3. Dominic Notten 5:38.44 13:39.32
4. Clinton Cook 5:40.35 13:41.22
5. Tyler Wilson 5:35.32 13:41.48

U23 Women

1. Lauren Felgate 6:12.24 15:22.191

U18 Boys

1. Mthobisi Cele 5:40.32 14:11.24
2. SiyandaGwamanda 5:54.48 14:23.50
3. Jabulani Gwamanda 6:12.45 15:14.53

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