It was a dream debut ‘down under’ for South African canoeing star Lance Kime who managed to hold off local favourite Josh Kippin to take the 2014 Avon Descent title in Perth, Australia on Sunday.
It was an impressive showing from the EuroSteel/Kayak Centre paddler as he added his first international title to the Dusi Canoe Marathon victory he notched up in 2013 and saw the crown return to South African shores for a fifth consecutive year after countryman Hank McGregor (Kayak Centre/Team Jeep) clinched victory on the previous four occasions.
With a full river beneath them, the field of 440 paddlers and 114 power-boaters set off on the gruelling 124km two-day adventure from Northam to Bayswater in Western Australia on a chilly Saturday morning and after a solid first stage effort, Kime settled for second best overnight as Kippin – no stranger to South African shores having spent six months competing in paddling events and travelling the country from September to March – enjoyed a 25 second lead.
Kippin however surrendered his lead midway through the Sunday’s second stage of the 42nd edition of the Avon when he suffered a costly mishap at Emu Falls, allowing both Kime to sail into the lead and Matthew Dean by his side for company.
Shortly before departing for Australian shores, Kime had used the recent Berg River Canoe Marathon as preparation for his maiden Avon appearance and the long days in the boat during the Western Cape’s major saw him well prepared for Sunday’s bum-numbing second stage as the 22-year-old dug deep and battled his way to a hard-earned victory.
“I am stoked to come away with a win at my first attempt,” an elated Kime said afterwards.
“Today was very tough from a distance point of view. It was a very, very long flat (water) section and six hours in the boat was gruelling!
“I was very, very lucky to have my good friend Matthew Dean to work with and if it wasn’t for him, I definitely wouldn’t be standing here in first place!” he added appreciatively.
With the recent birth of his son, McGregor opted out of this year’s clash however Dean – a former South African resident now living abroad – joined Kime on the podium after finishing third, two and half minutes behind eventual second place finisher Kippin.
Kime’s two minute victory over Kippin not only earned him his maiden Avon title, but the sizeable $4500 winner’s cheque as well and will give the former Stellenbosch University student good confidence ahead of this year’s Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon and the approaching KwaZulu-Natal river marathon season.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
AVON DESCENT (WESTERN AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIA)
1. Lance Kime (RSA) 09:07:47
2. Josh Kippin (AUS) 09:09:05
3. Matthew Dean (RSA) 09:11:45
4. James Morfitt (AUS) 09:25:50
5. William Lee (AUS) 09:55:07
Jenni Bateman 11:15:09