Andrew Birkett comes out on top in Dusi qualifier full of close finishes

2011-01-11 00:00

IN a race full of close finishes, Andrew Birkett pipped Hank McGregor and Lance Kime in an exciting sprint finish to the Pope’s Canoe Centre Alan Gardiner Memorial race on Sunday. After a race-long dice, Birkett and Kime came into the final bay on Inanda Dam together, with McGregor about 100 metres behind. There is a spit of land sticking out into the bay which, covered in grass looks distinctly like proper terra-firma, thus requiring an illegal portage if you wish to cross it. So the leading two headed around the spit to begin their sprint for the line. McGregor, however, had done his homework and knew that the solid looking grass was in fact growing in shallow water, and he sprinted straight through the spit to claim second place in the space between Birkett and Kime. Eric Zondi took fourth place just over four minutes behind. Brandon van der Walt’s fifth place after another three minutes made it three U21 paddlers in the first five.

Mmeli Cele from Lembethe Canoe Club won the boys’ race by seventeen seconds after another race-long tussle with Gauteng’s Gavin Shuter. Maritzburg College’s Murray Haw took third place in the boys’ race.

As expected, the women’s category was dominated by Robyn Kime and Abby Adie and they provided yet another exciting finish with Kime just eight seconds clear at the end of 28 km of hard racing. Hillary Pitchford took third place four and half minutes later. Brittany Petersen of Epworth showed that a Christmas break in snowy Britain had not frozen her skills with a four second win over Jenna Ward from Amanzimtoti in the girls’ race. A rapidly improving Kate Arnott from St Annes took the third place.

All these close races in the main classes bode well for exciting racing in the Unlimited Dusi in February.

A good field of just under 400 paddlers took part in the race on Sunday, which covered a large section of the day two Dusi course from just below Ibis Point to the big inlet just before Dip Tank on Inanda Dam. Although not anything like the huge water of the last few weeks in the Bushman’s and Umzimkulu river races, the Umgeni was flowing at a reasonable seven cumecs.

This was a distinct improvement on the 2,5 cumecs experienced last year in a race well known for low water and hard portaging.

This was the fourth race of eight races used to seed the first two rows of A Batch on Day one of the Unlimited Dusi. Currently the top ten seeds are Len Jenkins, Ant Stott and Andrew Birkett — 100%, Hank McGregor 100,03%, Lance Kime 100,04%, Michael Mbanjwa 101,85%, Brandon van Der Walt 103,65%, Eric Zondi 103,77%, Shaun Griffin 105,11% and Zonele Nzuza 105,85%. The next seeding race is the Hi-Q Midmar Marathon next Sunday.

Results

Overall K1

1. Andrew Birkett(U21) UKN 1:53:34, 2. Hank McGregor KIN 1:53:37.1, 3. Lance Kime(U21) US 1:53:37.7, 4. Eric Zondi UMZ 1:57:51, 5. Brandon van der Walt(U21) UKN 2:00:11.

Women

1. Robyn Kime(U21) US 2:14:00, 2. Abby Adie NAT 2:14:08, 3. Hillary Pitchford NAT 2:19:44, 4. Donna Winter KIN 2:22:05, 5. Alex Adie RHO 2:28:03.

Boys

1. Mmele Cele LEM 2:05:08, 2. Gavin Shuter DAB 2:05:25, 3. Murray Haw MAR 2:07:55.

Girls

1. Brittany Petersen EPW 2:36:19, 2. Jenna Ward AMA 2:36:23, 3. Kate Arnott NAT/STA 2:43:22.

1st U16 Nqobile Makhanya THO 2:17:01 – girl, Bianca Haw EPW 2:47:25

1st SV Marc Germiquet UMZ 2:00:18 – woman, Debbie Germiquet UMZ 2:28:07

1st V Shane Millward NAT 2:08:48 – woman, Mandy Rawlins NAT 2:30:02

1st SM Eric Hildebrandt KIN 2:10:43 - woman, Sue Annandale NAT 4:25:08

1st M Ric Whitton UMZ 2:09:51 – woman, Jenni Manning UMZ 3:57:58

1st SGM Phillip van Niekerk KIN 2:26:45

1st GM Roy Delhove KIN 2:35:02

1st K2 Sven Bruss and Greg Minnaar UMV 2:24:24

1st Mixed Richard and Lauren Hermon UMZ 2:47:17.

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