‘Flawless’ dice for top team

2012-07-13 00:00

BRIDGETOWN — Team-mates Hank McGregor and Grant van der Walt raced away to dominate the second stage of the Berg River Canoe Marathon yesterday, finding enough time to fool around at the hotspot before working together to rip open an awesom nine-minute overall lead.

The pair raced side by side throughout the 46 km stage from Zonquasdrift to Bridgetown at the headwaters of Misverstand Dam in less than three hours.

Van der Walt earning the honours for the fastest time of the stage, six-tenths of a second quicker than eight-time champion McGregor, who remains in the overall lead.

Both paddlers used the term “flawless” to describe their stage, as Van der Walt unashamedly tucked in behind McGregor while they wound through the tricky tree blocks, and repaid the favour by taking his share of the pull as they ground away from the field.

“I came into this race with my eyes wide open,” said Van der Walt, racing his debut Berg.

“I was pretty nervous when Hank [McGregor] led us into a few scary channels in the trees, but every time we would pop out in the open. He is a legend on this river, and I am learning tons from him every minute.”

The pair were well clear as they approached the Best 4 Bridge hotspot at Gouda Bridge, and could afford time to stop and have some fun. They slowed to a dead stop and froze, as the crowd on the bridge urged them on.

“I waited until my GPS showed zero, and told Grant to call it like a sprint start,” said McGregor.

“Then we took off on a 100 m race, which I was able to win. We worked hard, but we were also two mates who had a lot of fun on the river today.”

The chasing trio of Graeme Solomon, Lance King and Simon van Gysen worked tirelessly to try and reel in the two Durban paddlers, only to see the gap widening each time they got splits from their seconds.

“They were absolutely brilliant today. At one stage they put a minute into us in a kilometre,” said van Gysen.

In the women’s race, Olympian Jen Theron produced a stunning display to triple her overnight lead over Robyn Kime on a stage fraught with incident.

The pair started together, but five kilometres into the second leg Kime found herself stuck in a tree on a bend in the river, allowing Theron and the rest of their bunch to get away from her.

Theron’s advantage was erased by a swim at Black Rock rapid after she dropped on to the back deck of leading Junior Jandre Bezuidenhout’s canoe.

With the two title challengers once again, Theron knew that she had to dig deep to regain her lead, which she would carry into the long third stage which is started as a massed start.

She took her chances above Trein Bridge to earn a small lead and then took off to try to catch a group of paddlers some way in front of her.

It paid handsome dividends as she got to the finish at Bridgetown 3,25 minutes ahead of Kime, and in 21st position overall.

“Phew, I might have overcooked it a bit today and I am going to sleep very well tonight,” said Theron.

The third stage of the Berg River Canoe marathon presented by Best 4 Healthcare starts at Bridgetown today and ends at Zoutkloof.

More information can be found at www.berg.org.za

SUMMARY OF RESULTS

1.Hank McGregor 2:57.31 6:50.49

2.Grant van der Walt 2:57.31 6:50.49

3.Simon van Gysen 3:02.00 6:59.37

4.Lance King 3:01.57 6:59.38

5.Graeme Solomon 3:02.04 6:59.39

6.Jacques Theron 3:03.31 7:06.57

7.Heinrich Schloms 3:05.18 7:06.57

8.Robbie Herreveld 3:03.33 7:06.58

9.Edgar Boehm Jnr 3:08.25 7:15.32

10.Ivan Kruger 3:10.51 7:15.34

WOMEN

1.Jen Theron 3:17.03 7:43.09

2.Robyn Kime 3:19.16 7:46.26

3.Jenna ward 3:34.56 8:22.43

4.Kirsten Penderis 3:44.57 8:36.02

5.Robyn Henderson 3:45.35 8:44.03

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