Swellendam - Andy Birkett and Greg Louw pulled off a
stunning victory in the two day Breede River Canoe Marathon that decided the SA
K2 River Marathon title on the weekend, edging out world marathon champion Hank
McGregor and his partner Jasper Mocké in a thrilling endsprint into the finish
at Kambati Resort outside Swellendam.
Alex Adie and Nikki Mocké dominated
the women's race according to caneosa.org.za.
The two crews started the second stage of the race side by side after a needle
first stage, raced on a medium level river from Robertson to Bonnievale, with
both crews using the event to fine tune their preparations for the World
Marathon Championships K2 race in the USA in three weeks’ time.
The two lead boats were joined at the front by the third placed boat of Tom
Schilperoort and Dawid Mocké, and then a short while later by the charging crew
of Under 23 stars Brandon van der Walt and Stu MacLaren as they raced the 34km
final stage to the Kambati Resort.
The title decider came down to an endsprint through the heavily treed channels
into Kambati, with Birkett and Louw breaking away to set up a straight shoot
out with McGregor and Jasper Mocké which they clinched by the slimmest of
Birkett, the current Under 23 World Champion and four times Dusi Canoe Marathon
title holder, and Louw finished third in a superb race at the Sella Descent in
Spain last month, following Birkett's shock win in the Berg River Canoe
Marathon in July.
"Day One was pretty much cat-and-mouse with only a few intervals to test
the front bunch," said Louw. "We started as a two-boat bunch on Day
Two and two others close behind us and we felt the big thing was not to make
any mistakes that could give Hank (McGregor) and Jasper (Mocké) any opportunities."
As it was McGregor and Mocké did manage to get away after taking a sneak
channel through the trees midway through the final stage, but they were quickly
reeled in by the chasing pack speareheaded by Birkett and Louw.
"We had tripped the final four kilometers of the river to check out the
channels and the rapids and we realised that the final rapid was basically
single-file, so we needed to make sure we were the first boat into that last
rapid," said Louw.
"We took up the pull with about three or four kilometres to go, managed to
get into that last rapid first and then just held on from there to the
finish," said an elated Louw.
"This race was first and foremost part of our preparations for the world
marathon champs," explained Louw. "We have been training together in
Plett and came off a big training session on the Friday before the race.
"To be able to win the race, where I have a long history of admin and
problems, is great, and to win against athletes of the class of a world
champion in Hank McGregor and Jasper Mocké is awesome."
"I am pretty excited about the South African team's chances at the world
champs now," added Louw. "Brandon van der Walt and Stu McLaren are
going so well, and that's the Under 23 team for the worlds as well."
KZN schoolboys Damon Stamp and Alan Houston won a thrilling juniors race from
Stuart Bristow and Bryan le Roux.
The women's title fell comfortably to Alex Adie and Nikki Mocké, almost ten
minutes clear of Kirsten Penderis and Olympic sprint medallist Bridgitte
Hartley, with Robyn Henderson and Bianca Beavitt wrapping up the last spot on
the women's podium.
Dusi champ Lance Kime was the first K1 home, winning an arm wrestle with Owen
Gandar and Andrew Houston. The trio of Richard Kohler, Mark Dykes and Judy
Goodspeed taking the K3 class in 43rd overall.
The big field enjoyed superb warm weather on a river that contrasted sharply
with the 600 cumec flood that moved through the valley last weekend. Then river
continued to drop steadily over the weekend to a 30 cumec level at the start in
Robertson on Saturday morning.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS:
1 Andy Birkett/Greg Louw 2:01:47.52 4:07:30.19
2 Hank McGregor/Jasper Mocké 2:01:49.96 4:07:31.22
3 Brandon van der Walt/Stu MacLaren 2:01:30.53 4:07:33.31 (1st U23)
4 Tom Schilperoort/Dawid Mocké 2:01:42.62 4:07:34.44
5 Ernest van Riet/Edgar Boehm Jnr 2:00:20.47 4:09:26.44
6 Heinrich Schloms/Joseph Williams 2:02:12.18 4:11:16.88
7 Simon van Gysen/Ashley Carstens 2:01:32.29 4:12:22.62
8 Kenny Rice/Shanti Stewart 2:01:35.52 4:12:24.55 (2nd U23)
9 Kyle Friedenstein/Steve Woods 2:01:16.64 4:14:16.04
10 Anthony Lake/Dom Notten 2:02:16.30 4:15:17.63 (3rd U23)
11 Damon Stamp/Alan Houston 2:02:18.34 4:15:18.41 (1st U18)
12 Stuart Bristow/Brian le Roux 2:08:00.82 4:21:01.57 (2nd U18)
13 Siseko Ntondini/Thando Ngamlana 2:09:34.43 4:22:32.56
14 Murray Starr/Jordan Zeelie 2:07:23.68 4:22:34.21
15 Shaun Griffin/Dewalt Hattingh 2:08:31.14 4:23:39.91
16 Craig Flanagan/Murray Walters 2:09:55.05 4:25:05.06
17 Mark Keeling/Andreas Beukes 2:09:57.84 4:25:09.25
18 Crispin Thompson/Greg van Heerden 2:08:11.18 4:29:09.21
19 Ryno van der Westhuyzen/David Meihuizen 2:08:49.52 4:29:22.68 (3rd U18)
20 Tyrone Smolders/Jayme Thomson 2:11:25.13 4:30:23.58
1 Alex Adie/Nikki Mocké 2:12:08.76 4:39:50.41
2 Kirsten Penderis/Bridgitte Hartley 2:17:24.11 4:48:04.94
3 Robyn Henderson/Bianca Beavitt 2:20:09.22 4:54:16.69