Hillcrest - A superb surge of power paddling over the final stretch of Inanda Dam helped Andy Birkett stretch his lead to a substantial five minutes overall after the second stage of the Dusi canoe marathon ended near Hillcrest on Friday.
The four-time champion crossed the line in the 46km stage in a time of 2:59.33, well ahead of the defending K1 winner Kime (3:04.37).
That put Birkett well ahead with an overall time of 5:35.59, with the final stage from Inanda Dam to Blue Lagoon on Saturday.
Sbonele Khwela maintained his third position, although he had fallen even further back following a time of 3:07.24 - his overall time being 5:45.45.
Yet the stage, which is the longest in the three-day race from the start at Dusi Bridge, appeared to be much tighter after Kime and Khwela held their own for most of the way.
Birkett was slowly drifting away by the time they got to Nqumeni Hill Portage - the lead before he left the water was over three minutes between first and third.
But by the time they returned to the water, Khwela. Whose strong point is running with the boat, closed to just over two minutes behind.
That, though, was as close as it got as Birkett began to pull away again.
He entered the final 11km stretch of flat water at the dam around two and a half minutes ahead of Kime and four ahead of Khwela.
By the finish, he was well on his way towards securing a fifth Dusi crown and second individual title.
Three-time runner-up Laura O'Donoghue maintained her dominance of the women's race as she swept aside the field to win stage two in a time of 3:35.31, over 20 minutes ahead of Cana Peek.
Stage 2 results:
1. Andy Birkett 2:59.33
2. Lance Kime 3:04.37
3. Sbonelo Khwela 3:07.24
4. Thulani Mbanjwa 3:09.21
5. Andrew Houston (U23) 3:16.23
6. Owen Gandar 3:13.08
7. Murray Starr (U23) 3:13.06
8. Jacques Theron 3:15.53
9. Carl Folscher 3:15.44
10. Banesti Nkhoesa (U23) 3:17.32
11. Mhlonishwa Hlongwane (U23) 3:15.58
12. Zonele Nzuza 3:20.42
13. Alan Houston (U18) 3:20.53
14. Nqobile Makhanya (U23) 3:22.15
15. Marray Haw (U23) 3: 24.54
16. Travis Wilson (U23) 3:20.28
17. Mthobisi Cele (U23) 3:23.03
18. Nhlanhla Cele 3:21.51
19. Benjamin Bradford 3:20.43
20. Siseko Ntondini (U23) 3:22.30
1. Andrew Houston 3:16.23
2. Murray Starr 3:13.06
3. Banesti Nkhoesa 3:17.32
4. Mhlonishwa Hlongwane 3:15.58
5. Marray Haw 3:24.54
1. Alan Houston 3:20.53
2. Mpilo Zondi 3:27.12
3. Mswawenkosi Mtolo 3:28.00
4. Brandon Orpwood 3:24.14
5. Thabani Msiya 3:37.20