Birkett wins Popes

2008-11-18 00:00

MICHAEL Mbanjwa and junior Andrew Birkett paddled away from the rest of the field at Sunday’s Popes Canoe Centre Allan Gardiner Memorial Challenge.

Together at the front of the race from around the halfway point at the bottom of Ngumeni Hill portage, they stayed that way to the end on Inanda Dam with Birkett taking the line honours by a second. Len Jenkins outsprinted Shaun Griffin for the third place overall about a minute later.

Abby Miedema, starting her Hansa Powerade Dusi campaign with this tough qualifier, won the women’s race in 20th place overall, 12 minutes clear of closest rival Abie Adie. Hillary Pitchford took third place just under three minutes later.

Robyn Kime had a difficult race but still managed to win the girls’ race quite comfortably from U16 paddler Jenna Starr and U14 Brittany Petersen.

Birkett, as the overall winner, was also the boy’s winner followed by Lance Kime in 10th place overall. Mkhonzeni Gumede, from Lembethe Canoe Club, came third a minute and a half later in 15th place overall.

An excellent field of 326 paddlers took part in this difficult 25 km B-class race from Ibis Point to Inanda Dam. The weather gods were kind in providing a reasonable flow of just over five cumecs from the rain of the previous few days and a coolish, partly cloudy day prevailed. As a result most of the 226 boats completed the course.

Organisers Stella Canoe Club and sponsor Owen Hemmingway from Popes Canoe Centre were delighted with the whole weekend, having had a record 110 paddlers take part in the Popes Walk on the Saturday as well.

This walk/run over the Dusi day-two course from the Saddles portages to Umfula Store gives both novices and experienced paddlers vital information on the best routes through this tricky confluence section, both on land and in the river.

The race was also the second of six seeding races for the first two-day one-front rows in the 2009 Hansa Powerade Dusi. After this and the House of Paint Ozzie Gladwin a couple of weeks ago, the theoretical top 10 for the big race in January are Ant Stott and Andrew Birkett, both on 100%, Michael Mbanjwa on 100,02%, Len Jenkins on 100,66%, Shaun Griffin on 100,68%, Mark Mulder on 103,52%, Lucas Mthalane on 104,23%, Nkosikayise Cele on 105,94%, Nick Stubbs on 106,05% and Jason Graham with 106,34%

The next seeding races are the two days of the House of Paint 50 miler in early December.

Results:

K1 Overall: 1. Andrew Birkett (U18) MAR 22:04:19, Michael Mbanjwa ERK 2:04:20, 3. Len Jenkins DRA 2:05:08

Women: 1. Abby Miedema PEN 2:21:01, 2. Abie Adie (U21) NAT 2:33.18, 3. Hillary Pitchford NAT 2:36:06

Girls: 1. Robyn Kime UKN 2:47:39, 2. Jenna Starr (U16) EPW 3:10:43, 3. Brittany Petersen (U14) EPW 3:13:30

Boys: 1. Andrew Birkett (U18) MAR 22:04:19, 2. Lance Kime NAT 2:17:26, 3. Mkhozeni Gumede LEM 2:18:59

First U16: Andrew Houston LEM 2:41:18

First U21: Nick Stubbs UKZN 2:11:50

First SV: Steve Cohen KIN 2:18:10, women, Mandy Austen-Smith NAT 2:55:38

First V: Gavin Tarr CAN 2:15:13, women, Fiona MacCrimmon NAT 3:51:33

First SM: Eric Hildebrandt KIN 2:19:27, women, Solly Peckett EPW 3:38:22

First M: Ric Witton UMZ 2:30:02.

First SGM: Phillip van Niekerk KIN 2:35:03, women, Linda Lodge 3:52:18

First GM: Graeme Pope-Ellis KIN 2:26:19

First K2: Rob Ostler and Kevin Davidson(M) UMZ 2:32:51

First MD: Michael de Villiers and Cathy Spires NAT 2:36:19

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