Another extended hiatus in correspondence endeavours.
Radio silence from before the World Champs in Romania. Almost grounds for dismissal, or flogging.
Much water under the bridge. Lots to celebrate and some to mourn.
World marathon champs seems like a distant memory even though it was less than a month ago.
SA had a fantastic team over there and the results belie much of the teams potential. We received so many bronze medals, I was tempted to go to the local hardware store and buy a can of spray-paint.
The gees (Afrikaans word) that is usually generated by our traditional horde of masters paddlers was sorely missed.
Stand out performances from Saskia Hockley who returned with both a junior and a senior medal from her first worlds. Bronze in the junior K1 and another bronze in the senior K2 with veteran Jenna Nisbet (second time she has partnered a junior to a medal). Uli Hart impressed with a bronze in the U23 K1, followed by Christie MacKenzie with, yet another bronze, also in the U23 K1. My pilchard and his partner had an almost definite medal (probably bronze, in keeping with the trend) plucked out of their hands by an untimely swim at the end of the very last portage.
What was definitely evident was an increase in the standard of international marathon paddling, and the fact that our paddlers were pretty much in the mix of all the races they entered.
For the few masters who travelled it was a case of "in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king".
Next year is going to be a mammoth year.
In all likelihood, the world marathon championships and the world ocean racing championships will be held a week apart, just a few kilometres apart, in Portugal.
Many of our elite paddlers cross disciplines.
We also want to set a target of 100 masters attending, so start saving now. You can send your wife to the Algarve with her bikini bottom and spend a week with your mates.
Some of the marathon team flew directly from Romania to the Fish. Others, like me, swerved past home to drop off laundry, hug the kids, and fetch a different boat.
Even though there was an element of "togetherness" missing due to the covid restrictions, the race was once again well run, with some super tight racing, especially in the men's race, with Andy Birkett and Nic Notten finding something extra between Cradock weir and the finish, after shooting the weir in second place behind Jasper Mocke and the French world champion medallist (you guessed it - bronze) Cyrill Carre.
Bridgitte Hartley and Christie MacKenzie reversed their world championship fortunes by relegating Saskia Hockly and Jenna Nisbet to an unaccustomed silver medal.
Performance of the race going to juniors Jack Edmonds and Matt Millward who finished 6th overall.
The successful event was marred by two tragic events, resulting in two paddling friends not being with us anymore.
Firstly, an experienced white water paddler Axel Marggraf fell out of the K3 that he had been paddling in between Soutpans weir and Soutpans rapid. His paddling partners never saw him again until his body washed down the river some time later.
This tragedy was followed shortly after, when well-known Toti canoe club member, Dean Chiazzari, died of a heart attack, at the age of only 31. Dean shared a passion for development and, together with his family, was responsible for much of the success of the club.
Both will be sorely missed. Heartfelt condolences to family and friends.
Last weekend saw the hosting of the best river race in the country, the Lowveld Croc. The 60 or so paddlers who were fortunate enough to get a pink ticket for the weekend enjoyed a fuller than usual river, with Wayne Jacobs managing the conditions the best and walking away with a victory and the envy of his mates for having his name engraved on that special trophy.
Durban has seen a mass exodus of surfski paddlers, with an precedented 4 trailer loads of ski's, heading for East London and the Pete Marlin ski race this weekend. A record entry, snubbing its nose at our recent restrictive year. The sea is lining up properly for Saturday, with some ideal downwind conditions in the pipeline. Everyone who is anyone will be there. No "land of the blind" on this one.
A couple of weeks rest after the PM, and there will, hopefully, be another exodus to the Orange Descent. Another gem of a race with the best hospitality by the locals ever. The river was at 90 cumecs on Monday. No shortage of water in that system. Entries are still open.
That's all for this week.
Paddle hard. Stay safe.
And the joke:
A husband and wife were having dinner at a very fine restaurant when an absolutely stunning young woman comes over to their table, gives the husband a big open mouthed kiss, then says she'll see him later and walks away.
The wife glares at her husband and says, "Who the hell was that?"
"Oh," replies the husband nonchalantly, "she's my mistress."
"Well, that's the last straw," says the wife. "I've had enough, I want a divorce!"
"I can understand that," replies her husband, "but remember, if we get a divorce it will mean no more shopping trips to Paris, no more wintering in Barbados , no more summers in Tuscany, no more Infiniti or Lexus in the garage and no more yacht club. But the decision is yours."
Just then, a mutual friend enters the restaurant with a gorgeous babe on his arm.
"Who's that woman with Jim?" asks the wife.
"That's his mistress," says her husband.
"Ours is prettier!" she replies