24 June 2022 View online

Hi {name},

Apologies, once again, for the radio silence over the last couple of weeks.

I was part of the SA marathon championships organising team, and have been scampering around, doing what organisers do.

As I removed the last buoy from the dam on Monday morning and looked around at Hazelmere dam, it seemed surreal, as though we had never been there.

Those who were there, were treated to three days of intense competition. Many of those who could not make it to the venue were able to enjoy the action on the live streaming platform.

The event doubled as the primary trial to select the national marathon team that will represent South Africa at the ICF World Marathon Championships in Portugal at the end of September.

Hamish Lovemore emerged as the hero of the weekend by making a clean sweep of all 3 of the races that he entered.

On the Thursday morning, he dropped the entire field in the men's U23 K1 event and paddled on his own for most of the race, pulling an almost 3 minute gap on the eventual runner up, Uli Hart.

The women's U23 race was a far closer affair, with Christie MacKenzie just managing to hold off a tenacious Jade Wilson.

The juniors K1 races were held at midday, once the wind had picked up somewhat. Saskia Hockly advertised her intentions of a world medal when she emulated Lovemore by paddling away from the field, to win by nearly 2 minutes from Tannah Smith.

The junior boys race was a nail biter with 3 boats still in contention at the last portage. Matt Coetzer proved slightly too strong over the final stages of the end sprint, managing to pip Joshua Simpkins by a split second, with another Joshua (Smith) claiming bronze.

Emma Privett and Ryley Smith won the U14 girls and boy's races respectively.

Lovemore opted not to paddle the "short course", held later that afternoon, after some tight guppy races. This left 2 past world champions, in the form of Andy Birkett and Hank McGregor, to go head to head, with the younger Birkett managing to hang on for the win, with Uli Hart managing an impressive 3rd place after a full marathon a few hours earlier.

Olympic medallist, Bridgitte Hartley, used her sprinting experience to hold off the ever tenacious "mother of marathon paddling" Jenna Nisbet.

The walking wounded, coffin dodgers and geriatrics strutted their stuff early on Saturday morning, on the coldest day of the winter so far (almost getting down to single figures).

With the intensity of the competition, it is a miracle that the defibrillator in the medics vehicle stayed in its bag. The portages, especially, were a thing of immense wonder. Lovemore, McGregor et al could have stopped for a hamburger and still got to the put in faster had they been racing. Far too many fantastic results to include. But a bucket load of enthusiasm and a celebration that we are still able to compete and keep old rivalries alive as we get older. The victories and defeats are felt no less than the youngsters.

The junior K2 race followed shortly after the last Zimmer frame had been extricated from the mud at the finish.

The U16 and U18 boys race broke down to a group of 3 early on, formed by the combinations of Coetzer/Simpkins, Shooter/Salmon and Le Roux/Smith. With only 2 spots available for selection, it was setting up for a tense finish. Unfortunately, it was not to be, as a broken rudder cable put Shooter and Salmon out of contention. The race finally being won by Coetzer and Simpkins.

The junior girls K2 race turned into somewhat of a procession with ethe Hockly sisters, Saskia and Valmajean, getting rid of Tannah Smith and Neriyah Dill after a few laps and turning the event into a "catch me if you can" affair.

Emma Privett added to her haul of gold medals when she partnered Jami Lee Van den Berg to victory in the U14 event, with Jared Shrimpton and Ryley Smith taking home the U14 boys honours.

The "blue ribbon" event of the competition, the senior K1, was held on Friday afternoon. The women's field had a disappointing turnout of only 4 boats, with only 3 finishing. This did not detract from some exciting racing, with Bridgitte, once again, using her sprinting prowess to hold of the "never say die" Jenna.

The men's race was far more of a humdinger. A breakaway group of 3 formed about halfway through the race and stayed like that until the final portage. Lovemore used his explosive burst of speed to nip past Andy Birkett just after the last turn and never looked back. Uli Hart pulled off his 3rd podium finish of the event by coming 3rd.

This left only the K2 races for the final day.

The Salusa 45 addicts having a crack in the morning. More heart stopping moments. Lots of fun. Lots of stories (some even true).

Followed by the those we used to be.

Probably the most exciting race of the event was the men's K2 race.

Andy Birkett was forced to sit out, due to a calf injury. His partner, Nic Notten jumped into a boat with a semi ballie, Wayne Jacobs.

They got into the mix of a 3 boat split at the sharp end of the field, together with ex world champions Hank McGregor and Jasper Mocke, and Hamish, together with Clint Cook. The pace proved somewhat too demanding for the barbarians and they fell by the wayside with 3 laps to go. This left the exuberance of youth to fight it out with guile and maturity. Ultimately, it was raw speed that won the day, allowing the "lighties' to claim the gold.

At least one of the McGregor's managed to go home with a gold medal, when Pippa partnered Jenna to a hard fought victory over another barbarian crew of, junior, Tannah Smith with Jade Wilson in the senior women's K2 race.

This brought the curtain down on, yet another, fantastic SA marathon championships and the discovery of another superb venue.

The team to represent South Africa at the World Championships, that was chosen by the selectors and ratified by the CSA marathon committee and the CSA board, is as follows:

Girls U18 K1
Saskia Hockly, Tannah Smith

Girls U18 K2
Saskia Hockly/Valmajean Hockly, Tannah Smith/Neriyah Dill
Boys U18 K1
Matthew Coetzer, Joshua Simpkins
Boys U18 K2               
Matthew    Coetzer/Joshua Simpkins, Luke Jean Le Roux/Josh Smith
U23 Women K1
Christie Mackenzie, Jade Wilson
U23 Men K1
Hamish Lovemore, Ulvard Hart
Short Course Women               
Bridgitte Hartley, Jenna Nisbet

Short Course Men
Hank McGregor, Ulvard Hart

Senior  K1 Women
Bridgitte Hartley, Nicole Birkett

Senior K1 Men
Hamish Lovemore, Andy Birkett
Senior K2 Women
Jenna Nisbet/Pippa McGregor, Christie Mackenzie/Jade Wilson

Senior K2 Men     
Hank McGregor/Jasper Mocke, Andy Birkett/Nicholas Notten

Although the marathon champs has been the focus for the majority of the paddlers in the country, there has been a number of other events around the country.

We sent out a great report (HERE) on the SA Waveski championships which were held in Port Alfred over the weekend.

The river season has started in the Western Cape with the Hermon - Gouda and the Wellington - Hermon races already having taken place and the WCCU K1 Championships being decided this weekend from Paarl to Grensplaas.

The oldest surfski race in the world, the Pirates- Umhlanga - Pirates, was held on the 11th with sublime conditions and a healthy entry.

The second oldest surfski race in the world, the iconic Scottburgh to Brighton, will be held on the 2nd of July.

A week later, the ever popular Siyaphambili series, run out of DUC, will start and keep the KZN ski paddlers busy for the month of July.

That is all for this week.

Gotta go.
Your SG

Two jokes this week to make up for those I missed:

I saw my mate Charlie this morning, he's only got one arm bless him.
I shouted “Where you off to Charlie?”
He said, “I'm off to change a light bulb.”
Well I just cracked up, couldn't stop laughing, then said,
“That's going be a bit awkward isn't it?”
“Not really.” he said. “I still have the receipt, you insensitive swine.”

Traveling along the motor way and needing to use the toilet, I stopped at a service area and headed to the toilet.
It was a seated performance, so I headed into the nearest unoccupied cubicle.
After I had been sitting for a couple of minutes, a heard a husky voice from the adjoining thunderbox.
"Hi, how are you?"
I'm not the type to start a conversation in the toilet and I don't know what got into me, but I answered, somewhat embarrassed, "Doing' just fine!"
And the other person says: "So what are you up to?"
What kind of question is that? At that point, I'm thinking this is too bizarre so I say: "Uhhh, I'm like you, just travelling!" ??
At this point I am just trying to get out as fast as I can when I hear another question. "Can I come over?"
Ok, this question is just too weird for me but I figured I could just be polite and end the conversation. So I say "No...I'm a little busy right now!!!"  
Then I hear the person say nervously... "Listen, I'll have to call you back. There's an idiot in the other cubicle who keeps answering all my questions.

There are a couple of notable changes to the program of previous years. Firstly, all masters paddlers under the age of 64 will be paddling the same distance. In previous years, the younger masters paddled an additional lap. This change is to bring us in line with the change made by the ICF. Secondly, we have introduced a second guppy race to the program. The first guppy race of the day will see each age group racing separately for the national title. The second race is not a title race. It will be a mass start of all the age groups, and will be 3kms. Prizes will be given for each age group.

Please note, the dates of the championships are the 16th to the 18th. The selection document reflected the 17th to the 19th, which is incorrect.

There was a proposal that the U23's race, together with the seniors, but it was outvoted by the marathon committee.

If the standard of paddling and the excitement of the KZN champs is anything to go by, we are in for a superb national championships.

Once again, I urge all paddlers, irrespective of how good or bad you think you are (or what your mates tell you), to take plunge and to enter the event. There will always be someone to race against, wherever you are in the field. After your hour or two of agony is over, you can sit back and relax while you watch the proper guys do it. Entries are open on the CSA system.

For those who live far away, the event is most likely going to be live streamed, so, you can watch it in the comfort of your old armchair.

Over the last week, the proper, proper paddlers have been racing in the 1st World Cup sprint regatta for 2022. This is the first major international sprint meeting since the Olympics, where a number of countries like New Zealand and Australia have competed since the covid outbreak. 

South African paddlers had some superb results with Chrisjan Coetzee, winning both his heat and semi-final in the 500m before claiming a solid 7th in the A final. Bridgitte fighting back from a poor start to claim 5th in the 5000m. Callam Davis finishing 15th in the 5000m, which saw a dramatic end sprint with Denmark's Thorbjorn Rask outsprinting the more favoured Fernando Pimenta from Portugal. Esti finished 3rd in the C final of the 500m.

This weekend, Callam and Bridgitte travel to Prague for the ICF marathon world cup, where Callam will take part in the short course and Bridgitte will take part in both the short course and standard distance.

The final sprint team for 2022 has been announced.

The following paddlers will take part in the Olympic Hopes sprint regatta to be held in Slovakia in September - Bruno Cochrane, Cody Stallard, Tyde Malherbe, Theo Dreyer, Jordan Klopper, Zak Jacobs, Nicholas Erwee, Lungelo Gumede, Sibongeleni Mzimba, Kayla Szalay, Amy Duffett, Kerry Elliott, Nina Callebaut. The managers will be Jodie Dreyer and Janet Simpkins.

Bookings for the World Marathon championships and World Ocean Racing Championships have been hotting up, with much interest from our masters, as well as additional "non team" entrants for the Ocean Race, as it is an "open" event this year.

Immediately after the announcement of the national marathon team, we will be in a position to divulge how many spare places there will be in the container.

We have made a proposal to the organisers of the Ocean Racing World Championships that the masters race on a separate day to the "open" race. This will allow the masters to "share" ski's from the juniors and seniors. It will also allow masters to enter the "open" race as well if they wish, giving them an opportunity to race twice in one trip (or even 4 times, if they compete in the marathon champs as well).

We will know within the week whether our proposal will be accepted.

Its all lining up. This is the year. Get off the fence. Make a commitment.

Until next time

Your SG


And the joke:

Mechanic vs. Cardiologist 

A mechanic was removing a cylinder-head from the motor of a Harley motorcycle when he spotted a well-known cardiologist in his shop. The cardiologist was there waiting for the service manager to come and take a look at his bike when the mechanic shouted across the Garage, 'Hey Doc, want to take a look at this?'

The cardiologist, a bit surprised, walked over to where the mechanic was working on the motorcycle. The mechanic straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag and asked, 'So Doc, look at this engine. I open its heart, take the valves out, repair any damage, and then put them back in, and when I finish, it works just like new.  So how come I make R30 000 a month and you earn ten times that when you and I are doing basically the same work?'

The cardiologist paused, smiled and leaned over, then whispered to the mechanic...

'Try doing it with the engine running.'

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