The Durban duo of Hank McGregor and Grant van der Walt rewrote the record books at the Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon as they wrapped up a fourth successive K2 title on a day of drama a that saw the leaderboard dramatically shaken up, while women’s overnight leaders Abby Adie and Anna Adamová enjoyed an unchallenged second stage to claim the ladies’ title.
McGregor and van der Walt started over four minutes ahead of overnight second place holders Ben Biggs and Alasdair Glass, and succeeded in maintained their advantage throughout the 36km stretch from Knutsford to Cradock to eventually cross the line in 4:48.07.
“We had a faultless day, it was a bit lonely and pretty cold but we just looked to keep things conservative and not try be heroes and it all paid off in the end,” said recently crowned Marathon World Champ McGregor.
“Today was probably the best I have ever shot Cradock Weir and after that it was great to come home to get our fourth win in a row together and my fifth so I’m very happy.”
“I was obviously very happy to have won the World title last weekend and then to get another Hansa Fish title under the belt is great!” he added.
“We had a really good weekend together,” added van der Walt. “We both weren’t feeling great coming into the weekend after all the travel but it was great to be back at the Fish and the win is obviously great!”
Whilst McGregor and van der Walt were untouchable up front, the countless to-ing and fro-ing amongst their chasers kept the crowd on the edge of their seat throughout.
A brave Biggs and Glass tried their best to hang onto their second place however pre-race title hopefuls Len Jenkins and Greg Louw and top international duo of Tobias Bong of Germany and Tomáš Slovák of Czech Republic had other plans as they quickly reeled in the day one fairytale pair.
Having charged through the field after starting the day in fifth, Bong and Slovák proceeded to storm straight past Jenkins and Louw and into a probable second place finish, until disaster struck at the notorious Cradock Weir.
“We caught Len (Jenkins) and Greg (Louw) and stayed with them for a while before we managed to open up a 30 second lead going into Cradock Weir,” explained Slovák. “Unfortunately we had some bad luck there though and swam.”
“The swim also broke our boat a little so when we emptied and got going again we filled up with water all over again and by the time got to Golf Course rapid we were completely underwater and had to stop and empty again,” he added.
“Its obviously a bit disappointing but that’s Cradock Weir, that’s the Hansa Fish and that’s paddling!” said an upbeat Bong. “We’re still very happy with third place and maybe if we can practice a bit more we can be back again in two years’ time and try to challenge Hank and Grant,”
With Bong and Slovák’s misfortune it was Fisher King Jenkins and local lad Louw who ultimately claimed the silver medal after an improved day compared to Friday’s opening stage.
“Yesterday wasn’t the best for us but we managed to hold it together and Greg (Louw) pulled us through,” explained Jenkins. “It was much better today and man, what a nice race!”
“Well done to Bong and Slovák today. They were absolutely flying!
“The came charging through and the interval they put in to get rid of Ben (Biggs) and Alasdair (Glass) was unbelievable! They were going so fast that they couldn’t even stay in sync anymore! I have never seen anything like that!”
“Well done to Hank and Grant too. They are great paddlers and really fit.
“I’m also really chuffed with our fastest time of the day, although hanging onto the back of Bong and Slovák definitely helped us with that,” he chuckled.
Jenkins partner, Louw, added, “Its always great racing back here at home. You’ve got every farmer standing on the river banks along the way cheering you on and it really helps push you along!”
“Hats off to Tobi (Bong) and Tomáš (Slovák). The old sprinting days of ours really came into play today because they came past us and were just going at completely another level!” he added.
Having slipped back to fourth, Biggs and Glass then suffered the same misfortune as their international counterparts at Cradock Weir which saw Brandon van der Walt and Stu MacLaren go past as well as the pair rounded out the men’s top five.
In the ladies’ race Adie and Adamová showed a clean pair of blades to their chasers Robyn Kime and Bridgitte Hartley as they cruised to a commanding victory, Adie’s second K2 victory in a row having claimed the 2011 women’s title with Hilary Pitchford.
The win was also the ideal 24th birthday present for Adie. “I couldn’t have asked for a better present,” beamed Adie afterwards. “We managed to hang onto a good bunch of guys early on and that really helped us.”
“This really was a special win because coming into the race I thought it was one of the toughest fields I have ever had to compete against and Anna and I were a new combination.
“Once we paddled together and saw just how well we sat together and combined I knew we would go well though,” she added.
Adamová, who recently claimed a K2 bronze and K1 silver medal at the Marathon World Championships in Copenhagen, added gold to her repertoire – a memorable result for the Czech Republic competitor.
“The past two weeks have been amazing, I would probably rank both Worlds and Fish on the same level – they have been fantastic!” said an ecstatic Adamová. “Abby drove so well and she is Also my Dusi partner so I’m very happy to have started our partnership so well.”
Kime and Hartley eventually claimed silver with overnight fourth placed duo Jenna Ward and Kerry Segal moving up one spot to claim the bronze medal and break Ward’s Fish fourth placed hoodoo.
The juniors boys’ race saw Louis Hattingh and Bryan le Roux hold off the Wilson twins, Travis and Tyler, whilst Jordan and Cana Peek claimed the junior girls’ title. Brandon Macleod and his Michaelhouse teammate Alan Houston came from behind the claim the U16 title.
After a fascinating mixed doubles contest, Cape Town’s Tom Schilperoort and Samantha Murray overcame a drama filled final stage to claim the title from Adie siblings Alex and Andrew.
“We managed to get ahead of Andrew and Alex at Marlow Chute but as we went over Cradock Weir Sam’s paddle got stuck under us and we lost that which left us in a bit of a situation as we had a 50m lead, 5km to go and only one paddle!” explained Schilperoort comically.
“Fortunately someone threw us one at the bridge and we were able to put our heads down and go again to the end,” he added.
Having stormed through the field on day one it was the Burden trio – Nic, Paul and Colin – who once again reigned supreme in the K3 contest as they overcame the challenge of Jacques, Jen and Cobie Theron.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – HANSA FISH RIVER CANOE MARATHON
DAY TWO TIMES AND OVERALL TIMES
1. Hank McGregor/Grant van der Walt 2:01.27 4:48.07
2. Len Jenkins Jnr/Greg Louw 2:00.26 4.52.00
3. Tomas Slovak (CZE)/Tobias Bong (GER) 2:01.06 4:54.02
4. Brandon van der Walt/Stuart Maclaren (U23) 2:02.13 4:54.30
5. Ben Biggs/Alisdair Glass 2:04.17 4:55.06
6. Ivan Kruger/Valentin Herot (FRA) 2:02.51 4:58.04
7. Brett Bartho/Sbonelo Zondi 2:03.26 4:58.49
8. Pierre-Andre Rabie/Clinton Cook 2:03.56 4:59.20
9. Lance Kime/Thulani Mbanjwa 2:07.40 5:01.09
10. Dawid Mocke/Matthew Bouman 2:07.23 5:03.36
11. Jakub Adam (CZE)/Lukas Trefil 2:05.19 5:04.43
12. Richard Hala (CZE)/Jonatan Sramek (CZE) 2:04.00 5:05.27
13. Josh Kippin (AUS)/Simon Roll (AUS) 2:06.53 5:06.39
14. Louis Hattingh/Bryan Leroux (U18) 2:06.40 5:07.06
15. Gavin White/Louw van Riet 2:09.31 5:07.24
16. Gavin Shuter/Murray Starr (U23) 2:08.03 5:07.28
17. Travis Wilson/Tyler Wilson (U18) 2:07.15 5:07.42
18. Loveday Zondi/Thando Ngamlana 2:10.45 5:09.42
19. Ryan Louw/Stuart Laing 2:08.00 5:11.38
20. Lucas Mthalane/Mmeli Cele 2:07.19 5:12.45
1. Abby Adie/Anna Adamova (CZE) 2:10.57 5:17.09
2. Robyn Kime/Bridgette Hartley 2:12.47 5:21.16
3. Jenna Ward/Kerry Segal (U23) 2:21.12 5:38.45
4. Hilary Pitchford/Brittany Petersen 2:23.54 5:42.41
5. Danica Bartho/Michelle Burn 2:25.36 5:43.02
6. Jordan Peek/Cana Peek (U18) 2:28.10 6:00.27
7. Robyn Henderson/Debbie Lewis 2:31.08 6:05.34
8. Kim van Gysen/Kirsten Gelderblom 2:32.46 6:08.08
9. Bianca Haw/Charlotte Lovemore (U18) 2:32.06 6:09.03
10. Kirstin Wessels/Janine Linder 2:37.20 6:11.09
1. Brandon van der Walt/Stuart Maclaren 2:02.13 4:54.30
2. Ivan Kruger/Valentin Henot 2:02.51 4:58.04
3. Richard Hala (CZE)/Jonatan Sramek 2:04.00 5:05.27
1. Jenna Ward/Kerry Segal 2:21.12 5:38.45
2. Candice Murray/Anna Notten 2:43.54 6:22.19
3. Jenna Starr/Julia Trodd 2:39.41 6:30.48
1. Louis Hattingh/Bryan Leroux 2:06.40 5:07.06
2. Travis Wilson/Tyler Wilson 2:07.15 5:07.42
3. Damon Stamp/Mthobisi Cele 2:12.48 5:20.03
1. Jordan Peek/Cana Peek 2:28.10 6:00.27
2. Bianca Haw/Charlotte Lovemore 2:32.06 6:09.03
3. Sarah Harries/Jordan Taylor 2:36.17 6:16.24
1. Tom Schilperoort/Samantha Murray 2:09.53 5:21.30
2. Andrew Adie/Alex Adie 2:13.17 5:21.58
3. Kirsten Flanagan/Craig Flanagan 2:16.01 5:35.28
1. Nic Burden/Colin Burden/Paul Burden 2:15.16 5:29.23
2. Jacques Theron/Jen Theron/Cobie Theron 2:17.19 5:32.11
3. Jody Taylor/Duane Taylor/Matt Elliot 2:20.37 5:36.36