Zoutkloof - With water levels dire and obstacles a plenty, Adrián Boros once again proved his worth to win an end sprint against Graeme Solomon while Bianca Beavitt's metronomical consistency saw her claim her 11th consecutive Berg stage on Friday.
It was another blow-for-blow contest at the front of the race as Boros and Solomon continued to feel each other out, with the Hungarian holding all the cards in the form of a 03:20 advantage.
Solomon knew that he needed to dent Boros' lead if he wanted a solid chance of a win but the leading paddler matched all of the veterans plays.
"It was such a long day, I'm not fresh but I'm not broken," Boros commented after his third stage win.
"I have got some energy left but I don't think that it was worse today than the first day, today was just very long.
"We hit a lot of sand banks and we couldn't paddle so had to portage those sections which made it a bit more tough."
The fight between Boros and Solomon has been an intriguing one with Boros' slight weight advantage proving to be a tough hurdle for Solomon to overcome.
"I made a break after we portaged the dam wall," said Solomon.
"I then realised that I would have a better chance to win the race if I was against Adrian only.
"I thought that if I went then all the other international guys would work hard as a team so I believed that it would be better for Adrian and I to work together to keep our necks ahead.
"With that said if either of us got into trouble the other would take advantage and forget about the tactics so it was great racing.
"He's a class act and a good guy so I am glad that I can still be racing with these guys!"
As with all cumulative time races the pressure is on the chasing racers and Solomon has been in this position before so he understands the challenges.
"I need to stay in the bunch firstly!" he stressed. "But from there I need to be able to capitalise on any mistake Adrian might make."
Tom Lovemore raced back onto the podium on a day that saw the big Czech paddler Petr Mojžíšek battling on the low river after holing his boat.
British paddler Keith Moule cascaded down the leaderboard after the race committee confirmed a thirty minute penalty for swopping boats on the second stage after he wrapped his race kayak.
Friday was once again a brilliant day for Bianca Beavitt who continued her dominance of the ladies race from the gun at the start to balloon her lead out to 56 minutes over Kirsten Penderis in second.
"We had so many blocks today and just trying to get the bunch I was in to work together was difficult.
"We did eventually come together and we managed to catch right up to the group that was ahead of us!
"I am really excited to see that bridge in Velddrif tomorrow and to see my mum and dad," the defending champion added.
In the bun-fight for second place in the women's race, Penderis is now 10 minutes clear of Robyn Henderson with one stage left in the 2017 Berg.
2017 BERG RIVER CANOE MARATHON STAGE THREE (BRIDGETOWN -ZOUTKLOOF) RESULTS:
1.Adrián Boros 6:10.26 12:10.35
2.Graeme Solomon 6:10.27 12:13.55
3.Tom Lovemore (U23) 6:23.49 12:44.47
4.Mthobisi Cele (U23) 6:23.46 12:46.04
5.Alan Houston (U23) 6:23.47 12:46.06
6.Petr Mojžíšek 6:25.23 12:46.22
7.Mpilo Zondi (U23) 6:29.41 12:52.05
8.Heinrich Schloms 6:27.56 13:02.51
*9.Keith Moule 6:17.29 13:12.22
10.Mvelo Ngidi (U18) 6:33.46 13:13.18
11.Phillip Smith 6:33.42 13:13.48
12.Luke Stowman (U23) 6:53.52 13:42.05
13.Richard Allen 6:55.18 13:44.17
14.John de Villiers 6:55.20 13:45.42
15.Roy Clegg 6:44.29 13:46.32
1.Bianca Beavitt 6:55.19 13:55.15
2.Kirsten Penderis 7:20.13 14:51.20
3.Robyn Henderson 7:29.53 15:01.31
1.Tom Lovemore 6:23.49 12:44.47
2.Mthobisi Cele 6:23.46 12:46.04
3.Alan Houston 6:23.47 12:46.06
4.Mpilo Zondi 6:29.41 12:52.05
5.Luke Stowman 6:53.52 13:42.05
1.Mvelo Ngidi 6:33.46 13:13.18
2.Kelly Tarr 6:55.00 13:49.08
3.Bartho Visser (U16) 7:19.42 14:07.54
*Denotes a thirty minute penalty due to a boat change on the second stage