The 7th annual Swartland K1 Canoe Marathon on the 86 km section of the Berg River between Skooltjie (near Wellington) and Bridgetown (not near anything!), with the overnight stop at Zonquasdrift (sort of near Gouda), saw a ‘new’ Western Cape river paddlers face emerge, not only as the winner of this prestige event, but one who will be a serious contender for the 53rd Berg River Canoe Marathon to be held from 13th to 16th July, 2014.
‘New’ because Jasper Mocke is hardly a new face on the canoeing scene in the Western Cape, having established himself as one of the world’s leading surf ski paddlers, winner of the the Dusi Marathon in a K2; a podium finisher on the Breede and Fish K2 marathons in recent seasons and just to add to his paddling-cred – a bronze medallist in the Senior Men’s K2 at the World Canoe Marathon Championships in Rome in 2012 and this years runner up to the SA K1 canoe marathon title and with the current World Canoe Maerathon Champion, Hank McGregor, the SA K2 CM Champ in 2014. ‘New’ because Jasper has not been a feature on the Berg in recent seasons but with his emphatic win on the Swartland, is this about to change? One could lay an even bet on this happening if one was a gambling person!
Day 1 – over a weekend when the south western part of South Africa truly lived up to its reputation of being the ‘Cape of Storms’, some 115 interpid paddling soles started the 2014 Swartland K1 Canoe Marathon in drizzle and strong winds at the well-know landmark on the Berg River, Skooltjie (because there is a small school established on the banks of the river), when race starter, Jurie Wessels (and his able assstant, wife Trish), had the batches lined up in good order and drifting down to the start line on approximately 18 cumecs of flow. Notwithstanding the good rains during the week and the night before the start, the river had not risen appreciably for the start, although as the two days of the race progressed, this was to change.
Blasting away from the start, the leading bunch soon established itself (see photo above) and consisted of Louw and Ernest van Riet (Stellenbosch), Edgar Boehm jnr, Graeme Solomon and Jasper Mocke (Peninsula) and Greg van Heerden (Milnerton), and remained this way until shortly after Klei Rapid – which forced paddlers to adopt more of a follow-my-leader manner of paddling (see photo), when the first of the ubiquitous Berg River tree blocks was encountered. Here Louw van Riet, Mocke, and Solomon made their break from the others and so the remaining 34kms of the race was spent with these three exchanging the lead as they worked their way down through the ‘forests’ that inundate large parts of the river; the ‘moonscapes’ where de-forestation has occurred by the ‘Working for Water’ organization – and in these sections, without the protection of trees that wese there in the past, paddlers had to paddle into storm-strength head-winds – past the Hermon Bridge and the Red Train Bridge until, just some 700m from the end point at Zonquasdrift, Mocke made his break. What happend is that a large block of debris, trapped by fallen logs (see earlier mention about de-forestation) almost completely blocked the river, except for a one-boat width channel on river left. Here, Louw van Riet successfully made the sprint into this channel, forcing Mocke and Solomon to follow behind them, but in the remaining 700m to the finish line, Mocke challenged and outsprinted him, to end as the leader on Day one in 2 hours 43 minutes 34 seconds, van Riet just 3 seconds off the pace in 2:43:37, with Solomon 11 seconds back in 2:43:45.
In the Senior Women’s race, new import to the Western Cape, Alex Adie out of KZN (see photo attached of Alex Adie – also please credit John Hishin – Drumbeat Photography), stamped her class on a river very unlike to that which she knows so well in the Banana province, to easily come home in first place in 3:09:12 (so making it into the elapsed time paddlers for Day Two). Milnerton’s Sub Master, Robyn Henderson showed her river knowldge and paddling tenacity to come home in 2nd place (3:13:27) whilst Matie, Kirsten Penderis was 3rd in 3:17:19.
In the ‘race-with-a-race’ – the AQRate/WCCU K1 Development Championships being held concurrently with the 2014 Swartland K1, 1st paddler home was former Junior National (U18) paddler, Luke Stowman (Prl) in an excellent 12th place overall (2:55:02), Jermaine Pietersen (Prl) in 2nd with 3:12:42 and Josie Williams (Prl) 3rd in 3:16:59.
In the U23 section of the event, the 1st U23 paddler to cross the line was Ivan Kruger (Cty) in 2:53:06, 2nd was Luke Stowman and 3rd Dominic Notten (Pen) in 3:02:47.
The Junior categories, contested entirely by Paarl Devlopment paddlers, Marco March (U18) led the field in 3:34:30 with Peter-Lee Julies (U16) in 3:57:25.
In the various Masters categories (age groups in brackets of 5 years), the keaders at trhe end of Day One were Sub Veterans – Edgar Boehm jnr, 2:52:32; Veterans – Graeme Solomon, 2:43:45; Sub Masters – Men, Donnie Malherbe (Prl) 3:05:06; Sub Masters – Women, Robyn Henderson, 3:13:27; Masters – Chris de Waal (Mil) 3:02:01; Sub Grandmasters – Shaun Butler (Pen), 3:09:14; Grandmasters – Rob MacLean (Pen), 3:17:19; Great Grandmasters – Giel van Deventer3:20:22.
Day 2 – after a night of gale force winds and lashings of rain, the start of Day 2 of the Swartland saw the elapsed-time paddlers getting away at 08h30 into a fierce head-wind and some 25 minutes after the start – a heavy downpour – and on a river that had risen substantially from 17 cumecs to approx 35 cumecs (this was to increase at Zonquasdrift during the day). Added to the bad weather, the previously mentioned debris-block some 700m upstream of the Zonquasdruft bridge had begun to disintegrate and so large logs and branches were being washed downstream and amongst the paddlers who were lining up for the start.
Nevertheless, when there is a river race to be run, there are few compromises and so Mocke, van Riet and Solomon were sent away at the head of the field – Mocke trying to keep his lead, whilst van Riet and Solomon worked hard to reduce the time gap between themselves and the leader.
In the ‘forest’ some 8 km above the first major check point of day 2 of the race – Gouda Bridge (16km in), the leading three came together at a tree block in a narrow channel that saw a bunching-up of the paddlers and this continued until Black Rock Rapid, 4 km after Gouda Bridge, when, van Riet, deciding to shoot the rapid down its normal path entered it first. Solomon, coming in behind him opted to take a straight line at the hard left turn of the flow and, followed by Mocke, put up 60 m on van Riet, who had opted for the longer route. With this lead, the leading pair unleashed interval after interval, gaining more time on van Riet, until about 1km later and at Oom Giels’ famous (or should that be, ‘infamous’?!) left-hand ‘sneak’ on river left, Solomon, in the lead made a rare mistake when, catching his paddle blade on a branch that did not ‘give’ as much as he had expected, saw him take an untimely ‘swim’.
Mocke, taking his chance, went into sprint overdrive, powering away from the capsized Solomon, to open up a substantial gap, whilst van Riet was able to make up the tinme he had lost through Black Rock Rapid and regain contact with Solomon.
The race continued in this manerr right up to the end, Mocke out in front on his own, whilst Solomon and van Riet worked together to try and ‘pull-in’ the leader.
But this was not to be and so Mocke crossed the line as the 2014 Swartland K1 River Champion in 3:13:20 (overall – 5:55:54), whilst Solomon, in managing to outsprint van Riet over the final 200m to end in 3:16:10 (overall time of 5:59:55), made up enough time to knock van Riet back into 3rd place overall by 1 second ( van Riet’s ending time on day 2 being 3:16:18, overall 5:59:56).
In the Senior Women’s race, Alex Adie, in her own words, had a ‘Mare!”, swimming 4 times but due to her substantial lead on Day 1 and Robyn Henderson’s unfortunate Day 2 paddle, was able to hold off the challenge of Henderson and Penderis to claim the 2014 Senior Women’s Swartland K1 River Championship in 7:04:10. Penderis also capitalized on Henderson’s problems on Day 2 to overhall the Milnerton paddler to come home 2nd over all (7:06:55 to 7:09:17).
As per Day 1 in the AQRate/WCCU K1 Development Champs, there were no changes in the final outcome – 1st paddler home was Luke Stowman (Prl) in an excellent time of 6:17:52 (overall placing of 6th) from Jermaine Pietersen (Prl) 6:55:22 in 2nd and Josie Williams (Prl) 3rd in 7:03:13.
In the Junior categories, Marco March (U18) came in firts in 7:52:56 whilst Peter-Lee Julies (U16) was timed at 8:20:53.
In the various Masters categories (age groups in brackets of 5 years), the winners were:
Sub Veterans – Edgar Boehm jnr, 6:13:58; Veterans – Graeme Solomon, 5:59:55; Sub Masters – Men, Donnie Malherbe (Prl) 6:44:10; Sub Masters – Women, Robyn Henderson, 7:09:17; Masters – Chris de Waal (Mil) 6:32:12; Sub Grandmasters – Shaun Butler (Pen), 6:56:13; Grandmasters – Rob MacLean (Pen), 7:04:24; Great Grandmasters – Giel van Deventer 7:20:02.
So, another succesful Swartland K1 Canoe Marathon has been completed. Thanks are extended to the organizing committee, well led by Laura van Heerden, the WCCU Chairman, Greg van Hereden – the officials, the sponsors (especiually Devils Peak Brewery) and the paddlers and seconds, who despite everything thrown at them weather-wise, showed that the indomitable spirit of Cape paddlers continues to reign (no pun intended)!
Results – 2014 Swartland K1 Canoe Marathon Championship,
1. Jasper Mocke, Pen, 5:55:54
2. Graeme Solomon, Pen, 5:59:55
3. Louw van Riet, US, 5:59:56
4.Edgar Boeh jnr, Pen, 6:13:58
5.Ivan Kruger, CTY, 6:17:51
6. Luke Stowman, Prl, 6:17:52
7. Ernest van Riet, US, 6:18:02
8. Greg van Heerden Mil, 6:22:34
9. Nick Longley, Cty, 6:29:25
10. Dominic Notten, Pen, 6:31:59
1. Alex Adie, Pen, 7:04:10
2. Kirsten Penderis, U, 7:06:55.
3. Robyn Henderson, Mil, 7:09:17
1. Ivan Kruger, Cty, 6:17:51
2. Luke Stowman, Prl, 6:17:52
3. Dominic Notten, Pen, 6:31:59
1. Marco Marsh (U18), Prl, 7:52:56
2. Peter-Lee Julies (U16), Prk, 8:20:54
1. Edgar Boehm jnr, Pen, 6:13:58
2. Ernest van Riet, US, 6:18:02
3. Anthony Wostenholm, Mil, 7:14:43
1. Graeme Solomon, Pen, 5:59:55
2. Greg van Heerden, Mil, 6:22:34
3. Crispin Thompson, Cty, 6:34:36
Sub Masters – Men
1. Donnie Malherbe, Prl, 6:44:10
2. Richard Allen, Mil, 6:53:41
3. Stephan du Tpoit, SIM, 6:56:12
Sub Masters – Women
1. Robyn Henderson, Mil, 7:09:17
1. Chris de Waal, Mil, 6:32:12
2. Mike Schwan, Mil, 7:04:53
3. Ommund Sivertsen, Pen, 7:20:50
1. Shaun Butler, Pen, 6:56:13
2. Paul Lange, Pen, 7:08:25
3. Ian Glass, Pen, 7:13:57
1, Rob MacLean, Pen, 7:04:24
2. Enslin van Riet, Mil, 7:14:32
3. Johan Serdyn, US, 8:03:28
1. Giel van Deventer, Prl, 7:20:07
2. Andre Hawarden, Mil, 7:27:09
3. Edgar Boehm snr, Pen, 9:53:58
AQRAte/WCCU Development Championships.
1. Luke Stowman, Prl, 6:17:52
2. Jermaine Pietersen, Prl, 6:55:22
3. Joseph Williams, Prl, 7:03:13
1. Marco Marsh, Prl, 7:52:56
2. Peter-Lee Julies, Prl, 8:20:53