On a first stage reshaped to include marathon-style racing due to low river conditions, Hank McGregor and Jasper Mocké took a vice-like grip on the Breede River Canoe Marathon on Saturday.
The 2016 world champion crew led a six boat lead group through the six kilometre flatwater marathon race on Viljoensdrift before heading to the river at the Sliding weir and the remainder of the first stage.
“Once we were in the river it was scramble through shallow channels, and we managed to open up a fifty metre lead,” said McGregor.
With the crew using the race as a final dress rehearsal for the ICF Marathon World Championships in Portugal at the end of the month, McGregor and Mocké wanted to race under pressure from the other elite crews.
“I said to Jasper that we should keep up the pace because I was sure the others would catch up, but after a couple of kays the gap had grown,” said the Euro Steel ace.
They won the Bonnievale Spar hotspot at the Red Iron Bridge, and by the time they negotiated the big drop at Secunda Weir their lead had ballooned to over a minute.
They ground away to the finish at Riggton Farm to bank an overnight lead of over four minutes over a four-boat chasing bunch led home by Clint Cook and Tom Lovemore.
“It was good preparation for the world champs, which was one of the main reasons we entered,” said Mocké.
“We got away at the Sliding Weir at the start because we used a little channel that we found while we were tripping the river on Friday,” he explained.
“”We got into a very good rhythm and we felt very comfortable in the boat,” he added. “Conditions were tough because the river was so low and we were hitting rocks the whole time, and there was a lot of weed in the middle of the river.”
Kenny Rice and Uli Hart were third, just ahead of Dan Jacobs and Murray Starr and the pairing of Graeme Solomon and Anders Hart.
Another world champs-bound crew took charge of the women’s race as Jenna Nisbet and Pippa McGregor romped away in the technical river conditions to bank a five minute overnight buffer over the on-form youngsters Holly Smith and Neriyah Dill, and the crew of Candice Murray and Kira Bester.
“It was a really tough day as we raced in a very strong group of guys crews today,” said Nisbet. “They really made us work hard to stay on their bunch but that made it a good day out for us.”
Melanie van Niekerk and Scheepers Schoeman lead the competitive mixed doubles race overnight after a strong showing on the low river.
“We got away with good bunch but lost them when we got stuck on the Sliding Weir,” said Euro Steel team racer Van Niekerk. “It was a tough paddle until I decided to shorten my paddle and it was a whole lot better after that.”
Heinrich Schloms was the first K1 home, holding off Mark Keeling for the overnight singles bragging rights.
With the Breede continuing to drop overnight the 34 kilometre final stage to the finish at Kam’Bati Resort will provide another technical test of each crews river skills.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
BREEDE RIVER CANOE MARATHON – DAY ONE
1 Hank McGregor/Jasper Mocké 1:59:50.08
2 Clinton Cook/Thomas Lovemore 2:04:04.71
3 Kenneth Rice/Ulvard Hart 2:04:05.57
4 Daniel Jacobs/Murray Starr 2:04:06.24
5 Graeme Solomon/Anders Hart 2:04:07.70
6 David Evans/Robert Pike 2:06:40.97
7 Riccardo Talevi/Michael Arthur 2:11:13.88
8 Dyllan Farrell/Luke Jean Le Roux 2:11:37.13
9 Heinrich Schloms 2:12:12.93
10 John De Villiers/Jermaine Pietersen 2:12:18.91
1 Jenna Nisbet/Pippa McGregor 2:13:08.14
2 Holly Smith/Neriyah Dill 2:18:31.67
3 Candice Murray/Kira Bester 2:18:33.14
4 Jordan Peek/Christy Shrimpton 2:28:38.68
5 Waris Mills/Iwona Gancarz 2:48:36.37