Breede water prospects improve

After swopping the first and second stages of the Breede River Canoe Marathon around, the organisers of the iconic race have adjusted and re-adjusted their plans for the race as the weather forecasts continue to shift.

Since the Berg Marathon and Bamboo Warehouse Push and Pull Paddle, the winter rains have dried up and the level of the Breede has dropping steadily over the last few weeks, triggering the cancellation of the last pre-Breede race.

Based on their experiences at last year’s Breede, where the race was bedevilled by very low water levels, the organisers have opted to race the first stage from Riggton Farm to Kam’bati on the lower reaches of the Breede River above Swellendam, where tributaries make the river more paddleable.

After considering making the marathon a one-day affair, the weekend rains have substantially improved the outlook for water in the Breede River.

“By the looks of things, the residual ground water has saved the day,” said race organiser Richard Allen.

“The water level in the Breede as seen at the Le Chasseur DWAF website plateaued at five cumecs and then there was decent rain in Ceres on Friday and Saturday.”

“By Monday the reading at Le Chasseur had risen to nine cumecs and there is every chance it will continue to rise, hopefully keeping that water in the system for the race.

“So the Breede will be a two day race as the level should be more than three times the water we had last year,” he added.

Allen said that the race committee would make the final call on the second stage route on the weekend once they have had a chance to assess the actual river conditions.

He added that very hot temperatures were expected for the region on the weekend, and urged the paddlers taking part to take precautions against the sun and heat.

The race has proved to be a challenge form a number of elite paddlers who are flying out of South Africa for the Surfski World Championships in France on the Sunday of the Breede final stage.

While some have simply opted to not take part in this year’s Breede, others have entered and will either paddle the first stage or else chance their arm and race both stages before bolting back to the airport to make their intercontinental flights.