Hank McGregor, Abby Adie retain Drak Challenge titles

2011-01-24 00:00

UNDERBERG — After a day of high drama on a full Umzimkulu River, defending champions Hank McGregor and Abby Adie retained their titles in the Global Trader Drak Challenge canoe marathon, after both capitalised on mishaps that had derailed their challengers.

McGregor started the 38 km final stage from Swartberg Road bridge outside Underberg to Hopewell farm close to Coleford resort side by side with two former winners Len Jenkins and Ant Stott.

The trio quickly reeled off the first eight kilometres into Underberg before setting off into the notorious Underberg Gorge.

McGregor was the first paddler to be upended when his paddle wedged between some rocks, almost flipping him out of his kayak. Against the odds, he managed to recover and the front bunch remained intact.

The race was effectively reduced to two when Stott fell out of his boat at the end of the Underberg Gorge, leaving McGregor and Jenkins to race away alone on the second half of the stage.

Both got through the Lower Gorge unscathed, before McGregor made his break a kilometre and a half from the finish.

“I pushed the pace in the last t25 minutes so that Len [Jenkins] didn’t have the jump on me. I messed up in the FastDrak, and I didn’t want that to happen again,” said McGregor, who got his nose ahead for the sprint finish to win the race by two seconds.

Stott completed the stage alone to wrap up third almost three minutes behind the leaders.

Howick racer Abby Adie retained her title in the women’s division, after starting the final stage nearly a minute behind Robyn Kime. The lead remained unchanged until Kime approached her nemesis, “The Mineshaft” chute down Scotston’s weir on the outskirts of Underberg.

This is where she took a swim similar to the one that scuttled her 2010 title challenge.

Adie didn’t put a paddle wrong on the tricky river and coasted home to a three-and-a-half-minute victory over Kime.

“I was cautious in the rapids once I took the lead,” said Adie.

“I had done my homework at Glenhaven rapid, even though my line wasn’t the recommended line, but I backed myself, and it worked.”

Toti surfski ace Michele Eder managed to hang on to her third place.

Men: 1. Hank McGregor 3:45.01, 2. Len Jenkins 3:45.03, 3. Ant Stott 3:47.43, 4. Jacques Theron (Gau) 3:51.32, 5. Brandon van der Walt (U21) 3:52.34, 6. Piers Cruikshanks (Gau) 3:54.36, 7. Lance Kime (WP, U21) 3:55.59, 8. Mark Mulder 3:58.29

Women: 1. Abby Adie 4:09.40, 2. Robyn Kime (WP, U21) 4:13.08, 3. Michelle Eder 4:23.14, 4. Hilary Jean Pitchford 4:26.36, 5. Alex Adie (EC) 4:33.23, 6. Tamika Haw (WP, U21) 4:33.29

Junior boys: 1. Donovan Wewege 4:03.00, 2. Emile Theunissen 4:05.56, 3. Blaine Beresford 4:06.15, 4. Mmeli Cele 4:07.03

Junior girls: 1. Bianca Haw (u16) 4:43.43, 2. Jenna Ward 4:44.24, 3. Nicole Irvine 4:44.36, 4. Jordan Peek 5:03.30

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