The organisers of the 2022 Breede River Canoe Marathon have made changes to the first stage of the popular two-day race to accommodate the anticipated lower than usual water levels, and to introduce the spectator-friendly excitement of marathon-style racing to the event.
The start of the first stage has been moved fourteen kilometres downstream to the Viljoensdrift Wine Estate, which cuts out the shallow rock ledges on the section from the McGregor Bridge in Robertson to the flatwaters above the Sliding Weir.
“To make up for the distance, we will add marathon style laps on the dam,” explained race committee chair Richard Allen. “This should also sufficiently break up the field before tackling the triple portage of Sliding Weir, low level bridge and the Bollard Bridge.”
“We are a few weeks away from the ICF World Marathon Championships in Portugal and there are several elite crews that have entered the Breede as part of their training for the worlds.
“The lap racing and portages that are typical of marathon racing are very spectator friendly, and will add new excitement to the start of the first stage, at a beautiful part of the Breede route,” said Allen.
Once the laps have been completed the field of K1s, K2s and K3s will proceed to the iconic Sliding Weir, where tributary water from the Kogmanskloof River, Groot River and Boesmans River all contribute water to the Breede River, which becomes significantly more channeled below the Red Iron Bridge and paddler-friendly.
“Day 2 will remain unchanged,” he confirmed.
Top contender Kenny Rice anticipated the lower water levels, and said that the low river made the race more challenging and exciting for the racing crews contesting the Western Cape K2 River Championship titles.
“The full river is cool because you go faster but it does take most of the obstacles out of it,” said Rice, who will partner the on-form Uli Hart for the race.
“In a lower river you leapfrog each other all the time, which keeps it really exciting,” he said. “I am really excited for the Breede.”