Wednesday’s shortened stage one of the 2017 Berg River Canoe Marathon produced drama aplenty, culminating in Hungarian star Adrián Boros winning an enthralling end sprint to take the honours, while Bianca Beavitt all but sewed up the ladies title with a dominant display.
In what was confirmed as the lowest Berg River Canoe Marathon since 1973, paddlers had tree blocks and shallow water to contend with, making the 46km stage difficult for all competitors.
It was a tactically astute showing from Boros as he used the local knowledge of Graeme Solomon to help him through the stage and then pipped him in an exciting final burst for the line.
‘I am really happy with my result today,’ the smiling Boros said at the finish at Hermon. ‘It was really tricky today with blocks that we didn’t experience when we were training and I didn’t know where I was going.
‘There are a few guys that will be putting pressure on me, not just Graeme (Solomon), so I will be under some pressure.
‘On day three and four there is going to be a lot of flat water, so I expect the other international guys to be really strong from then.’
Coming home just two seconds behind the Hungarian bullet, was Bamboo Warehouse’s Solomon, who as a sub-master is not showing his age after a promising day in the boat, and staged a gutsy charge to try and seize the overall lead in the final hour of the stage.
‘There was a lot of sparring out there, there’s always going to be when you fighting it out for first and second in the Berg,’ Solomon commented.
‘He’s [Boros] a great guy and we had a good day out there and I am feeling surprisingly good given the conditions.’
Given Solomon’s height and weight, he understands that he will be at a disadvantage, but his hard work and persistence paid off with a solid second-place finish.
‘It was very low today, so I was always going to struggle a bit more than the lighter guys but I managed to stay with Adrian.
‘At the beginning there was a group of five and when we went through a rocky patch I came out the other side on the back foot because I was by far the heaviest.
‘I was pleased when we got past Klei Rapid and the water got a bit deeper, so I could make a few moves.’
Finishing in third on the stage was Englishman Keith Moule. The British marathon star had an up and down day, but managed to get past the young pair of Tom Lovemore and Alan Houston within the final 10km to take the bottom step on the podium.
Two-time defending women’s champion Bianca Beavitt (pictured above) fired an impressive salvo on the opening stage as she powered her way to 18th position overall and gave herself a hefty buffer going into the rest of the race.
Despite her dominance, she admits her day was far from flawless. ‘The plan was to have an error-free day, but that didn’t work out. I think I fell out about two kilometres into the stage,’ she said, chuckling.
‘It was nowhere near perfect today and although I have a good lead, anything can happen on the Berg and with these conditions that lead can disappear very quickly.
‘I’m quite hesitant about the rocks because they can put a hole in your boat, which will set you back very easily.’
Thursday’s shortened 33km second stage of the 2017 Berg River Canoe Marathon will take paddlers from the start in Hermon to Bridgetown.
Pictures of Boros and Solomon, as well as women’s winner Beavitt, courtesy of John Hishin/Gameplan Media
STAGE ONE RESULTS
1 Adrián Boros 3hr 45min 45sec
2 Graeme Solomon 3:45.47
3 Keith Moule 3:51.34
4 Alan Houston (U23) 3:53.52
5 Tom Lovemore (U23) 3:58.13
6 Mthobisi Cele (U23) 4:01.22
7 Mpilo Zondi (U23) 4:01.24
8 Petr Mojžíšek 4:02.32
9 Heinrich Schloms 4:05.16
10 Mvelo Ngidi (U18) 4:09.09
11 Phillip Smith 4:09.11
12 Bartho Visser (U16) 4:14.39
13 Luke Stowman (U23) 4:14.40
14 Kelly Tarr (U18) 4:15.23
15 Richard Allen 4:15.24
1 Bianca Beavitt 4:23.07
2 Kirsten Penderis 4:38.35
3 Robyn Henderson 4:43.35
1 Alan Houston 3:53.52
2 Tom Lovemore 3:58.13
3 Mthobisi Cele 4:01.22
4 Mpilo Zondi 4:01.24
5 Luke Stowman 4:14.40
1 Mvelo Ngidi 16:15
2 Bartho Visser (U16) 4:14.39
3 Kelly Tarr 4:15.23