Drama on Fish River first day

2008-10-03 00:00

Cradock — A morning of high drama at the notorious Keith’s Flyover rapid turned the first stage of the Hansa Powerade Fish River Canoe marathon on its head as several title contenders were unceremoniously dumped into the churning water, ending the challenge of the German crew of Max Hoff and Stephen Stiefenhoefer in a fleeting, controversial collision in the rapid.

Hoff and Stiefenhoefer were right behind Hank McGregor and Grant van der Walt going into the rapids, when the race leaders were stopped dead in their tracks by a massive stopper wave. The Germans collided with the stationary kayak and capsized, and in seconds their kayak was sucked under water and out of sight, ending their race.

McGregor and Van der Walt went on to win the tough 46-km stage to Knutsford, with Cradock locals Ryan and Greg Louw alongside them, while the frustrated Germans were left to rue what might have been.

“Somebody should teach them how to paddle,” said Stiefenhoefer about the collision with McGregor and Van der Walt. “They stopped paddling in the big water and we went under their boat and lost our canoe. It is very unfortunate that we are out of the race.”

Van der Walt was exhausted after the stage, suffering the after-effects of his medal-winning effort at the world marathon championships in the Czech Republic a fortnight ago. The leaders were caught by the Louw brothers shortly after Soutpansdrift rapids, and paddled the final portion of the stage together.

“I realised that Grant was really exhausted, so it will be interesting to see how [today] unfolds,” said McGregor.

“We had a great day, apart from getting well and truly molested in Keith’s Flyover,” said Ryan Louw. “At each portage, we got splits that showed we were getting closer and closer to Hank [McGregor] and Grant [van der Walt], and we worked together for the last bit.”

Third was the crew of Doug Bird and Nic Burden, three minutes behind the two leaders, two-and-a-half minutes ahead of the fourth placed Maties crew of Ernest Van Riet and Heinrich Schloms.

Dusi hero Michael Mbanjwa and his partner, Piers Cruikshanks, were also Keith’s Flyover casualties, as their kayak joined the heap of boats wrecked by the unforgiving rapid.

The women’s race produced even more drama at Keith’s Flyover, as the first two crews swam through the nasty rapid, and Carol Joyce and Jen Hodson capsized moments before Alexa Cole and Bridgitte Hartley swam.

Abbey Miedema and Michéle Eray momentarily took the lead as they portaged around the rapid, only to see Czech duo Michala Mruskova and Katerina Vacikova successfully shoot the rapid to race into the lead.

“We had a real scare at the top of the rapid,” said Mruskova after the stage win. “We were hit by the big wave above the bridge and we started to capsize as well. I had to do half an Eskimo roll to get us back up, and we were able to complete the rest of the rapid.”

Miedema and Eray finished 50 seconds adrift of the Czech girls, who gradually pulled away from them in the final hour, with Cole and Hartley third, a further minute back.

The leading junior boys were Stu Waterworth and Ben Biggs, who raced home to ninth place overall.

The final 36-km stage from Knutsford to Cradock includes three testing weirs in the final 10 km.

This includes the four metre- high Cradock weir that has regularly played a major part in determining the outcome of the race.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.