Day one of the South African Canoe Marathon Championships at Hazelmere Dam left former world champion Andy Birkett and Bridgitte Hartley with short course victories while the junior paddlers stole centre stage on the Youth Day programme of races.
The Under 23 K1 action kicked off the championship proceedings and it was the favourites that came to fore however it was a far more one sided encounter in the men’s race than the women’s showdown.
2021 champion Hamish Lovemore managed to get himself a lead and never relented in what was a sublime display of racing to win by almost 500 metres from the Western Cape’s Uli Hart in second and the Eastern Cape’s Matthew Fenn in third place.
“There was quite a big bunch for the first two laps and then the pace got a bit hotter before the first portage and we ran hard which meant it was just Uli (Hart) and I after that portage,” Euro Steel’s Lovemore said.
“I pushed the pace to test him and I felt that I had an extra gear so then at the second portage I went hard again and managed to pull away which wasn’t what I planned but I’m more than happy to get the job done.”
The women’s race was not as straight-forward for pre-race favourite Christie Mackenzie. The two-time World Championship bronze medallist was put under pressure throughout by Jade Wilson and Kira Bester.
It came down to an end sprint where Mackenzie just had a little too much for Wilson who settled for second just ahead of Bester in third.
“Kira (Bester) put in a few intervals in the first two laps which made things a bit stressful for Jade (Wilson) and I,” winner Mackenzie said.
“The wind starting picking up which made it tougher but otherwise I can’t complain about my race.”
The junior boy’s race saw K2 partners Matthew Coetzer and Joshua Simpkins fight it out for the gold medal and it was Coetzer who managed to pip Simpkins in the final sprint for the line while Josh Smith came home in third.
It was an impressive display from Saskia Hockly in the junior girls race as she powered her way to victory over one minute and 50 seconds ahead of second place Tannah Smith while young Under 16 paddler Holly Smith finished in third.
The day finished with the senior men’s and women’s short course races and the men’s race was full of drama as Under 23 paddler Callam Davis was in the running however a swim ended his chances of a win.
Andy Birkett showed his class to take first place while Hank McGregor nudged out Uli Hart for second as the Under 23 star finished third.
The women’s title went to Bridgitte Hartley just ahead of Jenna Nisbet in second while third went to Nikki Birkett.
Day Two on Friday includes the junior K2 races and K1 racing for the masters age groups and the key men’s and women’s K1 marathon races.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – SA Marathon Championships Day One
Under 23 Men K1
1 Hamish Lovemore 1:55:38.28
2 Ulvard Hart 1:58:31.97
3 Matthew Fenn 2:00:25.31
4 Alex Masina 2:02:54.59
5 Jeremy Maher 2:02:55.79
6 Daniel Jacobs 2:02:59.00
7 Sam Butcher 2:06:24.48
8 Dyllan Farrell 2:06:25.77
9 Sanele Mbanjwa 2:06:27.98
10 Jonny Lucas 2:08:22.35
Under 23 Women K1
1 Christie Mackenzie 1:52:37.09
2 Jade Wilson 1:52:38.34
3 Kira Bester 1:52:58.11
Under 18 Boys K1
1 Matthew Coetzer 1:45:00.53
2 Joshua Simpkins 1:45:00.92
3 Josh Smith 1:45:47.09
4 Luke Jean Le Roux 1:50:02.64
5 Theo Dreyer (U16) 1:50:25.75
6 Zak Jacobs (U16) 1:50:49.55
7 Cody Stallard (U16) 1:51:54.59
8 Benjamin Maehler 1:53:06.02
9 Lungelo Gumede 1:53:12.40
10 Joshua Glyn-Cuthbert 1:53:50.64
Under 18 Girls
1 Saskia Hockly 1:36:24.19
2 Tannah Smith 1:38:16.05
3 Holly Smith (U16) 1:39:08.54
4 Valmajean Hockly 1:39:08.54
5 Helen Jansen van Vuuren 1:39:13.33
1 Andy Birkett 0:15:05.45
2 Hank McGregor 0:15:06.98
3 Ulvard Hart 0:15:12.47
4 Clinton Cook 0:15:15.81
5 Nicholas Notten 0:15:44.58
1 Bridgitte Hartley 0:17:18.04
2 Jenna Nisbet 0:17:19.41
3 Nix Birkett 0:17:30.12