Robertson - The 52nd edition of the Breede River Canoe Marathon gets underway
on Saturday morning, with the iconic race once again plagued by low water
Despite the fact that the Berg River Canoe Marathon and the Bamboo Warehouse
Push and Pull marathon both enjoyed excellent water levels this year, the
winter rains have since then dried up and the level of the Breede has dropped
steadily and is currently running at a very low level.
The race organisers from Milnerton Canoe Club have opted to stage the entire
race on the lower reaches of the river, where the Riviersonderend tributary
offers a little extra water and the Breede River basin deepens somewhat.
The first stage will be the full 34km haul from the race base at
Riggton Farm to the Kam’Bati resort, and the paddlers will return to the same
starting point for a 17km second stage on Sunday ending at Drew Bridge.
“As was the case last year when we had similar water levels, the demands of the
race are very different,” said race director Richard Allen.
“Tough boats are
useful, and the ability to read shallow water and decide where and when to jump
out and carry your boat over the rocks is very important.
“We get to race the section from Riggton to Drew bridge twice so I expect the
competitive crews to use the first stage to carefully learn the lines and
channels so that they can use this knowledge to their advantage on the final
stage,” he said.
“Most of our entrants come for the pleasure of two days paddling in this
fantastic valley. For them it will be a case of bringing a tough boat, a good
sense of humour and an adventurous spirit, along with the kit to repair boats
overnight!” he added.
With the race deciding the WCCU K2 River Champs, there is a lot at stake, and
the seeded men’s A batch features a number of very strong crews, even if the
defending champions Stu MacLaren and Kenny Rice are absent because they are
travelling to the surfski world champs in France.
Pressure on the podium places will come from the Cradock raised siblings Ryan
and Greg Louw, the light Under-23 crew of Alan Houston and Stew Little, the
ominous combination of Anders Hart and Dom Notten, Paarl rising star Bartho
Visser and Ernest van Riet, the seasoned Heinrich Schloms and John de Villiers,
and the pairing of Clint Cook and Shaun Rubenstein.
The women’s race should be just as intriguing with the new K2 pairing of Dusi
champ Christie Mackenzie and Kim Van Gysen attracting much attention, but they
will line up alongside some strong crews like Melanie Van Niekerk and lifesaver
Christian Geromont, Angie Austen and Jess Pollock and the experienced Lis Hart
and Romy Findlay.
With low water a certainty there are a number of wily paddler who have opted to
race the two day outing in K1s, including the powerhouse Simon van Gysen, and
it will be interesting to see if he can stay with the leading K2s overall.
The race was due to host the SA K3 championships as well, but the very low
water level is unsuited to the unwieldy and heavy craft, and in the last week
more than half the K3 entries have unbundled in K2s and K1s, leaving just three
hardy K3s in the starting batches for Saturday morning’s first stage.
The first stage is a 34km leg from Riggton Farm near Bonnievale and
finishes at Kam’Bati Resort close to Swellendam. The second stage is a 17km leg
from Riggton Farm to Drew Bridge. The prize giving will take place at Riggton
More information can be found at www.breedemarathon.co.za