Day 2 of the 2 day, 91 km Men’s Health Swartland Canoe Marathon, begin with a slightly smaller field than day 2 (some 20 paddlers were unable to make the start having either failed to have made the cut-off on day one at the Hermon Bridge, or had damaged their canoes so severely, they were unable to continue their race), but in (again) perfect weather – blue skies, no wind and intially, almost warm, as the threatening cold front predicted, held off until afer the race and the prize-giving, much to the relief of the organizers. The top 17 paddlers got away from Zonquasdrift (racing the 48 kms to Bridgetown) on an elapsed start, with Lance King (MIL – the Day 1 winner) leading the pack, Pierre-Andre Rabie (US) and Paul Marais (PEN) being on his wave, as they were at the end of the 43 km day 1 section.
Included in the elapsed group was the leading lady, Abbey Miedema (PEN), who had recorded an excellent 17th postion on day 1, totally dominating the ladies section of the race.
Unlike day 1, (the 43 km section from Wellington to Zonquasdrift), the 48 km day section, from Zonquasdrift to Bridgetown did not have the umpteen tree blocks, rather featuring a lot more open water, which meant faster times and greater opportunity to slip-ride and this showed in the final times.
The group of King, Rabie and Marais was caught by Ernest van Riet (US), Tom Schilperoot (PEN) and Gavin White (MIL) within 20 minutes of the start, when such obstacles and narrowings as the few tree blocks encountered above the Gouda Bridge ‘hotspot’ slowed down the top three.Unfortunately, in the final tree-block, Marais took a swim and this allowed King, Rabie and van Riet to break away and open up a gap on the chasing bunch. At Black Rock Rapid, King and Rabie chose to portage, with van Riet shooting it to his benefit, as he made up about 7 – 10 seconds on the younger (Under 21), chasing pair. However, working together, King and Rabie quickly reeled van Riet in until at the final narrowing before the straights to Bridgetown, King took the initiative, made his move and was first to come into sight of the watching seconds and officials on the high bank at Bridgetown, closely followed by Rabie and van Riet. Comments illicited from watchers were interesting, stating that once Rabie and van Riet had caught King, the pace slowed down to such an extent …”it is amazing that they didn’t fall out of their canoes!”…. each paddler playing the cat-’n-mouse game which was all tactics until, with approximately 200 m to go, it was ‘voet-in-die-hoek’ as the sprint was on and the specators were treated to another fine sprint finish, King narrowly edging out Rabie into 2nd and van Riet into 3rd place. Gavin White was the 4th boat home, Ian Trautmann (PEN) 5th, Greg van Heerden (MIL) 6th, Pieter-Willem Basson
(PRL) 7th, Edgar Boehm (jnr) (PEN) 8th, Tom Schilperoot (PEN) 9th and Nick Longley (PEN) 10th.
There was another outstanding performance by Grandmaster, Roelof van Riet (MIL), who posted 22nd place overall. This 60 year old, a canoeing legend in South Africa and indeed internationally, was 54 minutes behind the winning boat of Lance King, someone who is 40 years his junior, and in doing so beat the majority of the field, when many of his non-paddling contemporaries are probably sititng around in their slippers watching the world go by. It is the likes of van Riet and other paddling legends like Andre’ Collins, also in his 60th year and due to enter his 39th Berg River Canoe Marathon, that have a story to tell about the benefits of this sport where health, wellness and fun can be had way past those years when society tends to write them off as ‘seniors’.
So ended the 2nd annual Men’s Health Swartland Canoe Marathon – on a high note – and it was without a doubt a succesful, if not tough event.
Those paddlers who used this race as training for the fortchoming Berg River Canoe Marathon (9 – 12 July), will be under no misapprehensions of the toughness and difficulties of that race, especially if the river remains low and the trees blocks and narrowings in the higher sections (Paarl to Gouda Bridge) remain in place as it was this immediate past week.
Congratulations must be made to the event organiser, Bronwen Hobbs of Peninsula Canoe Club, and a huge round of applause to her and the sponsors that so generously contributed to this success :
Media Liaison – W.C.C.U. and Peninsula Canoe Club