Paarl – Both defending champions signalled their intentions by winning the traditional pre-Berg River Canoe Marathon time trial with Hank McGregor and Bianca Beavitt leading the charge in their respective divisions before the four day race-proper begins on Wednesday, 13 July from Paarl Canoe Club.
The 3,5 kilometre time-trial is set out to front row seeding for the first stage on Wednesday and whilst local paddlers made up just over half of the top ten paddlers in the race against the clock on a low Berg River, the four international paddlers made their presence felt as they snapped up the other four top ten spots with Australian Josh Kippin claiming the final podium spot.
“I’ve always had the attitude that you put your head down and give the time trial a real go, so I’m happy with another time trial win,” Euro Steel/Kayak Centre’s McGregor said from a warm Paarl on Tuesday.
“It just gives me that little bit of extra confidence that I still have what it takes to mix it up in the front but tomorrow is a whole new game and I’m just going to have to keep my wits about me and not make any mistakes.”
The Western Cape’s traditional winter rainfall has brought something of a reprieve from the tough paddling conditions created by the ongoing drought plaguing South Africa however McGregor feels that there are a few significant differences this year from twelve months ago.
“The conditions are a lot better this year than last year that is for sure. Last years’ time trial was pretty much the same distance but felt like it took forever.
“The field is also very different this year with a strong international contingent coming through and I don’t think there are many marathon races that boast two current World Marathon Champions (McGregor and Hungarian Adrian Boros) in the K1 and in the K2,” added McGregor.
Although the ladies time trial does not affect their starting position for the opening day of the race it does give an indication of who the contenders might be and despite the absence of 2013 champion Jenna Ward from the time trial, defending champion Bianca Beavitt fired an ominous warning shot to the other ladies.
“I have been going a lot harder and a lot faster than I did in previous years in the build up to the race,” the Century City/Pink Lady star mentioned.
“My times have been a lot better and my time trial time was a lot faster than last year which is encouraging for me,” Beavitt added.
The ladies time trial podium was rounded out by Mocké Paddling’s Nicole Russell and Euro Steel/Mocké Paddling’s Under 18 sensation Kyeta Purchase.
Josh Kippin, the current Australian Marathon Champion, was the best placed of the international contenders at the time trial but despite his strong start he is slightly apprehensive about his debut outing.
“I’ve heard that the race is long, hard and cold but I am happy with how it went today but a thirteen minute time trial is no indication of how the next 240 kilometres are going to go.
“I am definitely going to have to take it day by day and try and stay with the front group but I’m not going to overcook myself early trying to stick with the top guys.
“To get through this I am going to have to stick to my race plan,” Kippin added.
Wednesday’s first stage of the Berg River Canoe Marathon is a 62km stage from Paarl to Zonquasdrift. More information can be found at www.berg.org.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – Berg River Canoe Marathon Time Trial
1.Hank McGregor 12.52
2.Simon van Gysen 13.12
3.Josh Kippin (AUS) 13.15
4.Petr Mojzisek (CZE) 13.19
5.Graeme Solomon 13.24
6.Brendan Rice (AUS) 13.27
7.Adrian Boros (HUN) 13.31
8.Edgar Boehm 13.33
9.Louv van Riet 13.39
10.Thomas Lovemore 13.46
1.Bianca Beavitt 14.54
2.Nicole Russell 15.13
3.Kyeta Purchase 15.32