Ant Stott showed tremendous determination as he fought back from an unexpected swim midway through the stage on Friday to set the fastest time of the day on day two of the Unlimited Dusi to claim a narrow stage victory over day one winner Andy Birkett and in so doing took the overall lead as well.
Stott looked to close the gap as quickly as possible but he had his work cut off for him as Birkett was keen to keep the Dusi stalwart at bay for as long as he could. Stott’s superior Dusi knowledge shone through and he quickly erased Birkett’s 46-second overnight lead and caught the youngster on the second saddles portage.
ÔÇ£Once I caught Andy I really went hard at certain stages but he just kept hanging on, I couldn’t shake him,ÔÇØ said Stott. ÔÇ£We put in at Nqumeni Hill together and then I had an unfortunate incident at Tombi (Rapid) which resulted in a long swim and cost me about two and a half minutes.ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£A piece of hyacinth got stuck on my nose and I was forced to go wider than I would’ve liked. As I went down I was helpless and over I went,ÔÇØ he added.
Birkett looked to make the most of Stott’s misfortune and cracked on the pace. All was not over for Stott though and with good water in the river he reduced the deficit to a little under two minutes at the headwaters of Inanda Dam.
ÔÇ£Two or three kilometres into the dam Ant started catching me and it was like I was just standing still,ÔÇØ said an appreciative Birkett. ÔÇ£It’s all set up for tomorrow I guess. It’s time to go big or go home!ÔÇØ
Meanwhile a far stronger performance from Valley favourite Michael Mbanjwa saw him move up past his friend and training partner Eric Zondi to claim third place on the day and he is now eight minutes off the pace of leaders, ready to pounce on any opportunity they may give him.
ÔÇ£Once Michael caught me my plan was to stay with him all the way to the finish but I couldn’t believe how strong he was especially after how he said he struggled yesterday,ÔÇØ said Zondi.
The most notable performance of the day came from former Dusi winner Len Jenkins who went from a disappointing 22nd position overnight to power his way through the field to seventh place at the end of Day Two.
ÔÇ£I’d been struggling with my health for a while coming into the race but I felt much better today and all the risks that I took just seemed to pay off for me, along with the knowledge of the river I have built up over the years,ÔÇØ said a visibly happier Jenkins.
Hank McGregor also enjoyed a far more competitive day on the water and despite not moving up on the leader board he will pleased with how today’s proceedings went.
Robyn Kime once again showed her class as she destroyed the ladies field en route to opening up a 17 minute lead over second place Abby Adie and in the process lowering Abbey Miedema’s stage record by a full minute.
Unfortunately for overnight junior boys’ leader Mmeli Cele a swim at Washing Machine rapid ripped his seat out his boat and so he surrendered first place to young Murray Haw who now leads Gavin Shuter and Andrew Adie going into the final day.
In the junior girls’ section Bianca Haw is still out in front as Brittany Petersen attempts to hunt her down in the final stretch from Inanda Dam to Blue Lagoon on Saturday.
DAY TWO THE UNLIMITED DUSI CANOE MARATHON
OVERALL TIMES AND POSITIONS
1 Ant Stott 5hr 42min 32sec
2 Andrew Birkett (Under-21) 5:42.33
3 Michael Mbanjwa 5:50.29
4 Eric Zondi 5:55.39
5 Lance Kime (U-21) 5:55.54
6 Hank McGregor 5:59.11
7 Len Jenkins 6:08.37
8 Piers Cruickshanks 6:08.38
9 Mark Mulder 6:15.40
10 Shaun Griffin 6:15.41
11 Kwanda Mhlophe (U-21) 6:19.19
12 Thomas Ngidi 6:21.32
13 John Ngcobo 6:25.50
14 Nhlanhlayakhe Cele (U-21) 6:25.52
15 Richard Fly 6:25.53
16 Craig Carter-Brown 6:26.41
17 David Chaplin 6:29.11
18 Zonele Nzuza 6:29.13
19 Lucas Mthalane 6:29.29
20 Ben Biggs 6:29.31
1 Robyn Kime (U-21) 6:42.03
2 Abby Adie 6:59.31
3 Hilary Pitchford 7:17.13
4 Alex Adie 7:27.00
5 Donna Winter 7:33.37
6 Bianca Haw (U-16) 7:52.57
7 Tamika Haw (U-21) 7:52.57
8 Brittany Petersen (U-18) 8:00.32
9 Nicola Irvine 8:10.29
10 Mandy Rawlins 8:11.11
1 Murray Haw 6:30.20
2 Gavin Stuter 6:33.33
3 Andrew Adie 6:44.15
4 Siseko Ntondini 6:44.40
5 Andrew Houston 6:51.08
1 Bianca Haw (U-16) 7.52 57
2 Brittany Petersen 8:00 32
3 Kate Arnott 8:48.11