In the weekend’s WCCU canoe race on the Berg River and held on the 30km section between the Gouda Bridge and Bridgetown, a new, yet ‘old’ canoeing name was added to the list of paddlers who have won President’s Trophy events in the Western Cape over the years. Louw van Riet, son of Willem, one of the founders of the Berg River Canoe Marathon, won his 1st K1 President’s Trophy event, when he outsprinted Veteran paddler and Cape and SA paddling icon, Graeme Solomon, to cross the line first in the impressive time (for a low river) of 2 hours 07 minutes 12 seconds. (For the record, Willem, now racing in the over 70 year division – the Legends category – also won his age group, making for a father and son victory on the river – something that has not happend for a long time – if at all in the past).
The event – in which some 100 paddlers took part – and starting at the new time of 09h00 (which meant that the race would have had more paddlers – suffice it to say that a number did not read the pre-race review properly and working on starting times from previous years on the Berg of being at 10h00, arrived late!), took off from under the Gouda Bridge in thick mist and cold conditions. Helpful to the paddlers though was the fact that there was none of the expected gale force winds that were predicted for Saturday – in fact there was no wind at all meaning that given time, it would burn off and a good day would be the reward. And it was precisely that – by the time the leaders went through the half way mark (the Train Bridge), paddlers were stroking away under blue skies and the prize-giving, in which a phenomenal amount and array of prizes were sponsored and given out were held on the lawns of the Bridgetown respirt in blazing sun shine, under clear blue skies!
Thanks are extended to a number of sponsors, in particular Devil’s Peak Beer, ORKA Paddles and Equipment, Achievement Awards, Slivers Bilton and Nuts and Peninsula Canoe Club.
From the start, the previously named van Riet (US), Solomon (Pen) along with Lance King (Mil), Edgar Boehm jnr (Pen), Ian Trautmann (Pen) and Ernest van Riet (US), sped away, taking the left hand turn some 100m after the bridge at speed and, in forcing some paddlers to give way, formed the lead bunch that was to dominate the race for the remainder of it’s length – i.e. Louw van Riet, Solomon and King.
The chasing bunch of Boehm, Trautmann, Ernest van Riet, Donnie Malherbe (Prl) and Greg van Heerden (Mil) would continue to chase the leaders, but were just unable to reel them in to take adantage of slip riding opportunities in the long pools on this section that are between the various obstacle that make this a typical ‘Berg’ race – i.e small, narrow rapids, ‘gangetjies’, tree blocks, semi-tree blocks and multiple channels, not all of which lead to where paddlers expect then to.
At Black Rock Rapid, 4.5km after the start, the leading trio – van Riet in the van, shot the rapid and immediately after it, King put in a massive interval to break the bunch, leaving Solomon in its wake. But the wiley ‘Solly’, patiently waited his time and using all the river knowldege that he has built up over many years, effectively hunted van Riet and King down by the time they had reached the infamous ‘sneak’ on river left some 2km later.
From here on, it was a case of follow-the-leader, each of this trio taking the opportunity of leading through the channels and pools that took them under the Train Bridge, beneath the Heuningberg and through Ysterpen Rapid, over the Drie Gewels weir until the final 2km long pull to Bridgetown was reached. Here, each paddler knowing the terrain intimately bided their time until over the final couple of hundred metres, they exploded into sprint action, van Riet dropping Solomon and King to record his first ever K1 President’s Trophy event.
The senior women’s event was won by new-comer to the Cape, Alex Adie (Pen), formerly of KZN, who did well to win her first race on this section of the Berg, but not without the drama associated with hard racing on what is a difficult course for someone who has never been on it before. Between Adie and Milnerton’s Bianca Beavitt, the lead was traded several times as one and then the other would pass the other because of an unforced error – a swim, a tree block orpaddling down the incorrect channel, until Adie’s winning time of 2:33:20 was more than a minute faster than her young challenger. Robyn Henderson (Mil), now paddling as a sub-master, completed the podium trio with a very good paddle of 2:38:25.
The U23 category was dominate by the Peninsula trio of Ashley Carstens, Kenny Rice and Dominic Notten.
1. Louw van Riet, US – 2:07:12.
2. Graeme Solomon, Pen – 2:07:18
3. Lance King (Mil), 2:07:30
4. Edgar Boehm jnr, Pen – 2:13:16
5. Ian Trautmann, Pen – 2:13:28
6. Ernest van Riet, US – 2:13:33
7. Donnie Malherber, Prl – 2:13:37
8. Greg van Heerden, Mil – 2:15:39
9. Heinrich Schloms, Prl – 2:15:40
10. Eugene van der Westhuizen, Mil – 2:18:21
1. Alex Adie, Pen – 2:33:20
2. Bianca Beavitt, Mil – 2:34:34
3. Robyn Henderson, Mil – 2:38:25.
1. Ashley Carstens, Pen – 2:26:27
2. Kenny Rice, Pen, 2:26 28.
3. Dominic Notten, Pen, 2:26:29.
1. Edgar Boehm jnr, Pen – 2:13:16
2. Ernet van Riet, US – 2:13:33
3. Rene Olivier, Pen – 2:41:19
1. Graeme Solomon, Pen – 2:07:18
2. Greg van Heerden, Mil, 2:15:39
3. Anton Cartwright, Pen – 2:32:36
Sub Masters – Men
1. Ian Trautmann, Pen – 2:13:28
2. Donnie Malherbe, Prl, 2:13:37
3. Richard Allen, Mil, 2:32:01
Sub Masters – Women
1. Robyn Henderson, Mil, 2:38:25.
1. Eugene van der Wewthuizen, Mil, 2:18:21
2. Chris de Waal, Mil, 2:18:23
3. Andries Smit, US – 2:45:04
1. Paul Lange, Pen – 2:30:01
2. Shaun Butler, Pen – 2:30:05
3. Francis Steyn, Prl – 2:38:54
1. Rob MacLean, Pen – 2:26:26
2. Lionel Ekermans, Mil – 2:29:41
3. Enslin van Riet, Mil,2:37:59
1. Giel van Deventer, Prl – 2:32:02
Legends (70 years and over)
1. Willem van Riet, DAB – 2:59:35
2. Edgar Boehm snr, Pen – 3:09:14
3. Janie Malherbe, OUT – 3:13:43