Thursday’s drama-filled second day of the 2013 Berg River Canoe Marathon from Zonquasdrift to Bridgetown saw the lead in the both men’s and women’s change hands with Lance King and Kirsten Penderis the new bearers of the yellow jersey.
King, who has a one minute and 33-second lead over Graeme Solomon (Bamboo Warehouse), now enjoys what could well prove to be a telling advantage over his fellow title rivals, especially as day three’s journey to Zoutkloof begins with all paddlers starting together in a batch start
ÔÇ£It’s great to have got the stage victory today and, for once, to be going into stage three with a bit of a buffer over the rest of the guys,ÔÇØ said King. ÔÇ£Usually stage two is my worst stage but I actually felt like it was my best day out there today which was great and now I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s third stage because day three is usually my favourite,ÔÇØ he added.
With just five seconds separating the men’s lead trio at the start of the day, overnight leader Ben Brown’s title hopes were dashed shortly before Gouda Bridge, one third of the way into the 46-kilometre second stage, when became entwined in an unexpected tree block.
Having cleared the tree block cleanly, new race leader Graeme Solomon then suffered a similar mishap around the next corner as another, recently developed, tree block checked his pathway midway down a rapid, forcing him to turn back and handing King the advantage.
ÔÇ£We came around the corner and it was just carnage,ÔÇØ described King. ÔÇ£They have obviously been clearly blue gums either yesterday or even this morning because there were just gums everywhere in the water. Ben unfortunately got stuck quite badly and then I came around the next corner I saw Graeme (Solomon) stuck down the usual channel we take. Fortunately I remembered there was an old channel to the left that we only really use when the river’s in flood but I decided to go for it and thank goodness it was open.
ÔÇ£From there I just tried to put my head down and go for it and I’m very chuffed to now be in the lead.
A visibly disappointed Solomon will now need to put in a special effort if he is to take the title away from King as the men’s race appears to have become a two-horse race with two day’s to go. ÔÇ£It’s hugely frustrating,ÔÇØ said Solomon. ÔÇ£I couldn’t believe my eyes when we came to the first tree block but fortunately I managed to get through quite cleanly and when Ben (Brown) fell out, holding up Lance (King) a bit I thought ‘This is it. The Berg title is mine.’
ÔÇ£When I saw that second block I couldn’t believe it though. I had nowhere to go. I tried to back paddle for a bit and wasted a minute or so by which time Lance came around the corner, saw me stuck halfway down and was able to go down the other channel and that was that.
ÔÇ£Being in second and trying to make up some time I took a bit of a risk at Black Rock rapid and as I got to the bottom there was someone standing in the only channel available for me to go through and he clipped my tail as I went past which spun me out and I then fell out, costing me even more time. It was just one of those days!ÔÇØ
It will take more than a tough day at the office to dash Solomon’s hopes though. ÔÇ£It’s definitely not over yet. There’s still a lot of water between here and the finish and anything could happen still,ÔÇØ said Solomon.
Having been stuck in the horrible position of being too far behind those in front of him to catch them and too far ahead of those behind him to work with them at the start of the stage, Ivan Kruger had to capitalise on incidents such as Brown’s to take something out of the tough day’s racing as he moved up from fourth to third place but a long way off the pace.
The chase group of Louw van Riet, Pierre-Andre Rabie, Lee McGregor and Edgar Boehm Jnr. were also breathing down Kruger’s neck in the closing stages of the day however it was by no means a simple day for the quartet either.
ÔÇ£I thought that was my race over, and the race of the other guys too, when we came to that tree block,ÔÇØ explained Van Riet. ÔÇ£We got so stuck in there and only (61-year-old) Lee McGregor was strong enough to pull all of us out.
“The man (McGregor) is just phenomenal,ÔÇØ added Rabie. ÔÇ£He is just so strong and just keeps on going!ÔÇØ
Whilst McGregor’s fairytale continues Brown’s seems to be over, leaving the Brit with no much left to paddle for other than his pride. ÔÇ£It’s obviously hugely disappointing. After I lost 10 or 15 minutes in that tree block I thought that’s it but I managed to pick myself back up and then I really enjoyed paddling on this beautiful river here in the Western Cape.”
ÔÇ£That’s how I’ve probably got to look to approach the next couple of days too ÔÇô just go out there and enjoy myself,ÔÇØ he added.
The women’s race saw the roles reversed as overnight leader Jenna Ward, after a nasty swim around the 10km mark, was passed by Kirsten Penderis with the local lass putting in a strong performance throughout to earn herself a five-minute lead in the women’s section.
ÔÇ£I’m very happy with how things went for me today,ÔÇØ said Penderis. ÔÇ£Once I saw Jenna swimming I just put my head down and tried to go as hard as I could for the rest of the day whilst still being careful and not making too many mistakes.
ÔÇ£Day three is also my best day of the four of the race and I’m feeling strong so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.
Kruger still leads the Under-23 men’s title race with Joseph Williams in second and Luke Stowman in third while the Under-18 race’s lead changed hands with overnight leader Mthobisi Cele being passed by Michael Farringer. Michael Pretorius occupies third place.
Day two results (Stage/Overall)
1 Lance King 3hr 20min 24sec, 7:35.34
2 Graeme Solomon 3:21:58 7:37.07
3 Ivan Kruger (U23) 3:26.37 7:48.06
4 Louw van Riet 3:23.25 7:48.57
5 Pierre-Andre Rabie 3:23.29 7:49.01
6 Lee McGregor 3:23.30 7:49.01
7 Edgar Boehm Jnr. 3:23.32 7:49.03
8 Ben Brown 3:43.39 7:58.44
9 Gavin White 3:34.42 8:09.16
10 Sbonelo Zondi 3:42.16 8:09.21
11 Joseph Williams (U23) 3:35.03 8:09.34
12 Paul Marais 3:35.05 8:09.35
13 Greg van Heerden 3:42.46 8:22.20
14 Chris de Waal 3:40.14 8:22.21
15 Mynhardt Marais 3:37.20 8:22.22
16 Michael Farringer (U18) 3:37.17 8:22.23
17 John de Villiers 3:44.07 8:26.15
18 Pieter Theron 3:43.55 8:30.55
19 Erich Andrag 3:45.36 8:32.39
20 Mthobisi Cele (U18) 3:48.10 8:32.42
1 Kirsten Penderis 3:57.35 9:03.00
2 Jenna Ward (U23) 4:03.18 9:08.02
3 Joritha Prins 4:30.55 9:49.39
1 Ivan Kruger 3:26.37 7:48.06
2 Joseph Williams 3:35.03 8:09.34
3 Luke Stowman 3:55.00 8:37.07
1 Jenna Ward 4:03.18 9:08.02
1 Michael Farringer 3:37.17 8:22.23
2 Mthobisi Cele 3:48.10 8:32.42
3 Michael Pretorius 3:52.14 8:48.25