Awesome. In a word?.! But for those who want more feedback, please read on!
The race hosted by the small university canoe club based at Tuks in Pretoria, was an awesome success which attracted some nearly 200 paddlers.
The organization of the race was superb especially in light of the distance involved, some +- 40kms including a very technical stretch of river which the paddlers thoroughly enjoy and find challenging and where they can learn a tremendous amount of skills.
The Tuks organiser, Alan van Zyl roped in all the assistance required to host an extremely successful event, with the Scouts from the East Rand and Henley Weir, marshalls from other clubs including Natal student canoeists, to supplement their manpower to ensure the paddlers safety and enjoyment .
Tuks students merrily provided a vibey atmostphere at Henley weir with a water point with some excellent choice in music and where paddlers really enjoyed the ice cold coke with real ice blocks in after the long hard slog in the heat of the Indian summer the weekend provided, as well as Tukkies girls to cheer the paddlers on, and hot spot prizes.
Despite the long distances and technical difficulties of the river stretch, only one double withdrew due to admin, one missed the cutoff at the weir (newly proficient driver) and one single paddler who was just too lazy to continue!! (NO NAMES mentioned!) The rest of the field finished successfully within the cut off time required to obtain a point for Fish and the race can be considered an absolute success from the le Mans running start to the finish where delicious food and cold drinks were available! Bird viewing was also an option for marshalls and spectators or paddlers and included Hamerkop and Giant Kingfisher who frequent the river.
Certainly there were some difficulties in the tight tree sneaks on the UPPER KLIP (sounds a bit like the UPPER Umgeni..? puts us in a different league hey!) where marshalls worked hard to assist paddlers in order to minimise congestion but nevertheless there were a few spots where numerous boats ended up on top of each other in tight sneak areas despite our requests to leave gaps and space for boats ahead to work in, but everybody had a super time and gained a great deal, from improving technical skills, to gaining mileage for training purposes and fitness!
Back to the Upper Umgeni, it was interesting to note a boat lathered with ductape all over near the front cockpit and since we wondered where they could have broken that badly, it was even more interesting to find out that the Natal youngsters had broken their boat on the UPPER UMGENI the previous day before driving hell for leather up to JHB to take part in the UPPER KLIP section of the MIGHTY KLIP in Gauteng….!! Some people will do anything for a few points! Needless to say they finished successfully!
The low level bridges were closely monitored with marshalls on duty, especially the Pipes bridge and paddlers must remain aware that they can be extremely dangerous with strong currents underneath and no risks should ever be taken near these obstacles – they must always be treated with great respect as any experienced top notch paddler will confirm!
Daleside weir once again had a fair share of swimmers with a couple of boats being damaged on the shallow rocks, while Mine rapid once again had the highest number of swims and boat damage on the race albeit not badly enough to force withdrawals. The high number of swims on the left channel with shallow rocks which caused bodily and boat damage caused the marshalls at the rapid to enforce a RIGHT channel choice as although there were still a few swimmers, the risk of harm to boat or paddler is much reduced by the free flowing water without shallow rocks.
PLEASE NOTE: ANY paddler receiving deep gashes or injuries on this rapid should obtain medical attention at the first sign of infection as the algae on the rocks, like corals, reeds and bamboo contain very virulent bacteria and can cause septicaemia very quickly – be SURE to inform your doctor that paddlers often develop complications with cuts and infection from cuts on this rapid. There are frequently pollution problems on rivers and all deep cuts should be taken seriously and treated professionally immediately. Some algae and corals/reeds appear to have flesh eating bacteria similar to the poisons caused by spider bites and paddlers have ended up in hospital, intensive care on drips with very real health threats from injuries caused by some of these items. (NOT just Klip by the way, but in the Cape and Natal as well as islands in other countries!)
The rest of the race ran smoothly as our novices become more and more proficient making the sweeps work really hard to keep up with them!
AND the winners were……! : Ryno Armdorf, taking an easy day off as a result of over partying the night before, who roped in young Under 16 Emile Theunissen to push him down the river, (SOW/FLCC) the pair finishing easily as top double in 2:51, while Alex Roberts with Mark Garden (DABS) finished in second place in 2:55. Jacques Theron was the third finisher, and first K1 boat in 2:56 although it is certain he could have done better had he chosen to stop nibbling and munching along the way! So the third K2 winning team was Nkosi Mzolo with Tom Ngcobo (SOW/LIK) in 2:57.
The first Sub Vets were once again Nic James and Clint Munro (ERK) in 3:05, in 11th place, with the first Vets next in 3:09 Malcolm Stothard and David Rawlinson (DABS), followed by the first Juniors Under 18 youngsters from the Dusi Valley – Mzamo Zondi and Evert Mzolo in 3:10 – these names are all sounding very familiar! One big happy family! VERY big happy canoeing families!! First Under 21 team were Watuni youngsters Hannes Pienaar and Henco Scheepers in 3:15 and the first Under 16 youngsters finished in 19th position in 3:16 – Danie Botes (Cen) and 14 year old Archie Moncho (FLCC).
The ladies finished next in 20th position, in 3:17 – Kirsty Fox and Sarah Saunders (ERK/DAB) while the first Mixed double were 22nd in 3:20 – Dabs newly married Douglas and Tracey Jewson, with Sydney Olwagen and Martin Kerr finishing as 2nd Mixed Double in 3:22 (JCC).
The winning Sub Master boat were the ERK partnership of Kevin Hutton and Gary Holmes finishing 22nd in 3:20, and the first masters were also third mixed double – John and Carrol Evans (FLCC) finishing 28th in 3:24.
The young ladies Under 16 team making their presence on the river races obvious finished in 45th position in 3:31 – Morgan Ziervogel and Holly Spencer and on the other side of the age spectrum, the Grand Masters were led to the finish of the race by Raymond Pratt (ERK) in a single K1, while the K2 winning GM’s were Mike Wilmot and Franz Fischer (JCC) in 4:01 in 80th position! The Sub Grand Master winners were Bernard Krone and Andre van der Merwe also JCC in 3:40 in 59th position.
Surprisingly two K3’s managed the tricky technical section on this small river with the first K3 finishing in 37th position in 3:27 (Andre vd Merwe, Kobus Botes and Andre Bezuidenhout – LCC, CEN, and FLCC). Andre is from the Lowveld and sent me a very amusing chronicle of his first ever Klip river event!
An awesome day, an awesome race, awesome organization, awesome crowd of paddlers, awesome weather and awesome stretch of river!!!