Flawless Jenkins dominates drama-laden first stage of Fish

2009-10-03 00:00

CRADOCK – Defending champion Len Jenkins took a bold step closer to winning his fifth successive Hansa Powerade Fish River Canoe Marathon title yesterday with a record-breaking solo charge that set up a three-minute lead on a first stage fraught with drama and incident.

Jenkins was locked in a ferocious battle with Hank McGregor before blasting away shortly after the duo had negotiated the tricky Soutpansdrift rapid to shave 47 seconds off his own first-stage record and set himself up for overall victory in the shorter and easier final stage into Cradock today.

A disappointed McGregor finished second, holding off the German world champ Max Hoff by just over two-and-a-half minutes. McGregor and Jenkins worked together after negotiating the testing Keith’s Flyover 10 km into the race to put distance between themselves and Hoff, who miraculously escaped unscathed after colliding with the right-hand bank of the rapid, spinning out and finishing the remainder of the monster rapid backwards.

“The last thing we wanted was to have the world champion breathing down our necks, so we worked together after Keith’s Flyover to keep him at bay,” said Jenkins.

”I can’t fault Len today, he was a machine,” said McGregor. “I struggled to keep up with Len after he took off after Soutpansdrift, and was more worried about keeping my distance from ‘the Hoff’. We will just have to see what happens tomorrow,” he added.

Grant van der Walt finished fourth, ahead of the Czech Republic wild-water ace Robert Knebel.

The 1 400 strong field battled with many of the bigger rapids and weirs, as well as the maze of willow trees that enshroud the first 15 km of the race. Dozens withdrew with damaged or lost kayaks.

The final 36km paddle into Cradock includes the big gauging weir, Marlow Chute and Cradock weir. More information can be found at www.fishmarathon.org.za

Day 1: Men: 1. Len Jenkins 2:49:03, 2. Hank McGregor 2:51:53,

3. Max Hoff 2:54:21, 4. Grant van der Walt 2:56:31, 5. Robert Knebl 2:56:41, 6. Greg Louw 2:59:44, 7. Mark Mulder 3:00:28, 8. Lance King 3:00:31

Women’s: 1. Robyn Kime 3:16:26, 2. Katerina Vacikova 3:17:10, 3. Michéle Eray 3:18:25, 4. Abie Adie 3:23:46, 5. Jen Hodson 3:28:14

Junior boys: 1. Brandon van der Walt 3:00:58, 2. Lance Kime 3:07:37

Junior girls: 1. Hanré Maree 3:30:59, 2. Jenna Ward 3:33:04

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