Top senior Hank McGregor and rising Under-23 star Grant van der Walt provided some great racing at the South African canoe marathon championships just outside Plettenberg Bay on Saturday.
Perfect sunny and calm weather conditions made the Keurbooms River a perfect competition platform in the joint venture by Knysna and Plettenberg Bay canoe clubs.
McGregor and Van der Walt raced neck and neck over the seven laps of the 30-kilomere course. The two ended the race just four seconds apart, with McGregor claiming gold. Marc Holtzhausen finished in third overall, less than a second ahead of the second placed Under-23 paddler, Lance King. In the Junior Men’s category, Brandon van der Walt snatched the title from Ivan Kruger by only a six-second margin.
In a disappointing Senior and U23 ladies field, depleted late by Bridgitte Hartley’s commitment to the SA Sprint squad, and other competitors choosing to focus on the K2 event, Michele Eray raced away in a class of her own.
She finished eight minutes ahead of Under-21 racer Bianca Beavitt. Impressively, 11 ladies competed in the veterans and above race. In the Junior girls racing, Under-16 starlette Kerry Segal continued the excellent form shown at the SA Sprint Championships, to win the Under-16 and Under-18 race, less than a second ahead of Under-18 competitor Melanie van Niekerk.
Sunday’s K2 racing promises to be an exciting event with the the world class pairings of Grant van der Walt and Hank McGregor, Ant Stott and Graeme Solomon, Piers Cruikshanks and Jacques Theron, as well as Lance King and Sean Rice coming into play.
The women’s K2 racing looks set to be dominated by Abby Adie and Lindi-May Harmsen.
Sunday’s racing was sheduled to start at 9am, with the Senior and Under-23 Men racing at 12:30 and the women five┬á minutes later. The final team for the World Marathon Championships to be held in Spain in September will be announced after the day’s racing.
Day One results
Senior and Under-23 Men
1 Hank McGregor 2:17:44
2 Grant van der Walt 2:17:44 (U21)
3 Marc Holtzhausen 2:19:11
Boys Under-18 and Under-16
1 Brandon van Der Walt 1:45:57
2 Ivan Kruger 1:46:03
3 Joseph Williams 1:52:52
Senior and Under-23 Women
1 Michele Eray 2:09:15
2 Bianca Beavitt 2:17:28 (U21)
Girls Under-18 and Under-16
1 Kerry Segal 1:38:58
2 Melanie van Niekerk 1:39:22
3 Marisa Pretorius 1:44:27