Pre-race favourites Andy Birkett and Nicky Notten took full control of the 2021 Breede River Canoe Marathon by racing away to win the 38 kilometre opening stage from Robertson to Bonnievale on a fast flowing river on Saturday.
In their first outing together since the national marathon championships in May the pair broke away from the crews of Kenny Rice and Graeme Solomon and the talented youngsters Bartho Visser and Dan Jacobs to grind out a handy eighty second overnight lead.
The pair scrambled to make the start in time as they made last minute adjustments to their kayak, and were quickly drawn into a ferocious four-boat tussle at the front of the race.
“It was the first time that Nicky and I had paddled in a river together, so it took a little while to settle into the boat,” said Birkett.
“With about nine kilometres to go we were leading the bunch going into a rapid and I noticed that the others had fallen back a little as we exited the rapid, and we tried to capitalise on that,” he added.
“The water level was fantastic and we had a good clean day on the river,” added Birkett, who is starting a block of doubles racing with Notten that will include the upcoming Fish Marathon and Pete Marlin surfski races.
“It was a great idea to do the Breede,” stressed Birkett. “There is no substitute for racing together and it was a proper race today.”
With the two crews in the chasing bunch starting side-by-side, they can work together over the 36 kilometre closing stage to try and reel in Birkett and Notten, while settling the final make-up of the podium.
Ernest van Riet and Heinrich Schloms finished fourth, two and a half minutes further back, with the junior race well and truly in the control of Dyllan Farrell and Luke le Roux, who finished in the top ten overall.
Kira Bester and Angie Austin won the women’s race on the first stage, reaching the overnight stop at Riggton Farm outside Bonnievale almost two minutes ahead of Tracey Oellerman and Shannon Parker-Dennison and the pairing of Bianca Beavitt and Robyn Henderson.
Ian Trautmann and Stephanie von der Heyde hold all the cards in the mixed doubles race, with a thirty second lead over Holly Smith and her partner Zak Jacobs, who are keen to challenge their thirty second lead on the final stage into Kam’Bati resort outside Swellendam on Sunday.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
BREEDE RIVER CANOE MARATHON STAGE ONE
1.Andy Birkett/Nicky Notten 2:04:41
2.Bartho Visser/Dan Jacobs 2:06:03 (1st U23)
3.Graeme Solomon/Kenny Rice2:06:03
4.Ernest van Riet/Heinrich Schloms 2:08:49
5.Phillip SMith/Riccardo Talevi 2:09:57
6.Sam Butcher/Carl Folscher 2:09:58
7.Josh Smith/David Evans 2:10:23
8.Evan Knight/Robert Pike 2:13:30
9.Ross Leslie/Hamish Mackenzie 2:13:30
10.Dyllan Farrell/Luke le Roux 2:186:09 (1st U18)
1.Kira Bester/Angie Austin 2:22:35
2.Tracey Oellerman/Shannon Parker-Dennison 2:24:13
3.Bianca Beavitt/Robyn Henderson 2:24:50
1.Ian Trautmann/Stephanie von der Heyde 2:20:58
2.Holly Smith/Zak Jacobs 2:21:24
3.Melanie van Niekerk/Gary Luke 2:23:42