World Champions Hank McGregor and Jasper Mocké successfully defended their men’s K2 title at the South African flatwater marathon canoeing championships at Camps Drift to conclude a thrilling weekend of racing with honours more or less even between McGregor and Andy Birkett.
After losing a needle end sprint in the men’s K1 race to Birkett on Saturday, McGregor and Mocké turned up the heat when it counted most to blast away from Birkett and his partner Greg Louw in the closing stages of the doubles title decider.
“It feels fantastic to win another South African title and defend the title we won last year,” said McGregor. “One step at a time, now we can start to focus on going to the world champs to try and defend the world title we won last year.”
“This is the toughest marathon team in the world to earn a place in, and the standard of racing today reflected that,” he added.
The two crews shook off challengers Brandon van der Walt and Stu McLaren and Sbonelo Khwela and Banesti Nkhoesa as the seven lap race wore on, leaving the two race leaders to test one another relentlessly with sprint intervals trying to expose any sign of weakness.
They turned on the final half lap together and lined up for the final sprint into the finish side by side until McGregor and Mocké found the energy for the title clinching burst from 200 metres out.
“It was a world class race with a world class field,’ said Mocké. “We managed to wear the guys down one by one until it got to two boats, which makes it much simpler coming into the last portage.”
“There is a lot of excitement about the upcoming world champs in Gyor,” added Mocké. “As a paddler to look back on winning a world championships in Hungary is something that you can look back on say ‘That was cool!'”.
Birkett, who dethroned a jet-lagged McGregor as the SA K1 champion on Saturday, said that McGregor and Mocké had been very strong in the closing stages of the race.
“On the last two laps lap we could feel the pace quicken and just trying to stick on their wave was proving to challenging,” said Birkett.
“What made it enjoyable was the fact that is was clean, fair racing,” said Birkett.
The Cape based crew of Brandon van der Walt and Stu McLaren grabbed the last spot on the podium, holding off a dogged challenge from Dusi paddlers Khwela and Nkhoesa.
The women’s race was dominated by crews from the Durban based training cell, with 2014 U23 World Champs bronze medallist Jenna Ward partnering young lifesaving star Kyeta Purchase to obliterate the women’s field, dropping their only serious challengers, fellow Blue Lagoon training cell friends Hayley Arthur and Donna Tutton, in a very powerful final lap surge.
Surfski paddlers made a major impact on the junior racing throughout the weekend. Fish Hoek based lifesaver Mark Keeling paired up with Durban surfski star Bailey de Fondaumiere to win the U18 K2 race from the tenacious pair of Luke Criticos and Thomas Lovemore, while the junior girls title fell to a dominant Donna Hutton and Cana Peek.
The home province comfortably won the Van Riet trophy for the overall champion union, from the Western Cape and Gauteng.
The two days of marathon racing concluded with the announcement of the teams selected for the Masters Cup and World Marathon Championships in Hungary in September.
SA MARATHON CHAMPIONSHIPS K2
1 Hank McGregor/Jasper Mocké 2:05:04.94
2 Andy Birkett/Greg Louw 2:05:09.67
3 Brandon van der Walt/Stu Mclaren 2:06:31.22
1 Jenna Ward/Kyeta Purchase 2:01:20.48
2 Hayley Arthur/Donna Tutton 2:01:40.59
3 Abby Solms/Alex Adie 2:07:36.26
1 Mark Keeling/Bailey de Fondaumiere 1:36:09.72
2 Luke Criticos/Thomas Lovemore 1:37:50.81
3 Brandon Orpwood/Jarryd Gibson 1:41:48.04
1 Donna Hutton/Cana Peek 1:34:19.04
2 Nicole Smith/Julia van der Westhuysen 1:39:46.34
3 Caroline van der Linde/Keegan Keiser 1:40:04.13 (1st U16)
1 Alex Masina/Sibusiso Chwayi 1:47:27.03
2 Eman Zaloumis/Hamish Lovemore 1:48:27.79
3 Tumelo Elephant/Stewart Little 1:55:52.15
1 Ulvard Hart/Luc van der Westhuysen 1:17:24.83
2 Dave Evans/Hamish Mackenzie 1:20:28.93
3 Langelihle Shozi/Lindokukle Maphumulo 1:24:38.28
1 Amy Peckett/Mea Stiglingh 1:06:02.87
2 Cayleigh Shaw/Hannah Shrives1:06:46.45
Images: Anthony Grote