Pre-race favourites come to the fore on Berg stage one

The beautiful Swartland played host to stage one of the 2018 Berg River Canoe Marathon on Wednesday. John Hishin/Gameplan Media

The beautiful Swartland played host to stage one of the 2018 Berg River Canoe Marathon on Wednesday. John Hishin/Gameplan Media

Zonquasdrift – It was far from smooth sailing for Team Bamboo Warehouse’s Graeme Solomon and his Hungarian partner Adrian Boros, however their class shone through as they cantered to a 90 second advantage after the first stage of the 2018 Berg River Canoe Marathon on Wednesday.

The pre-race favourites started strongly and developed a healthy lead in the first quarter of the 62 km opening stage, however Boros came unstuck at one of the many tree-blocks and took a swim which cost them their two minute lead.

“I hit something under the water with my paddle which put me off balance and I fell out,” the 2017 champion Boros mentioned. “It was a stupid mistake but I think that we did well today.”

With a minute and a half buffer over the international duo of Briton Keith Moule and Dutch star Joep van Bakel, the contest moves into a tactical battle with the chasing duo having to do all the work to claw back that deficit.

“I think it becomes a mental game now,” Boros added. “We were in the front and then all of a sudden we were behind the guys chasing us so you have to be mentally strong at all times because it can change so quickly.”

Despite a few mishaps along the way, to be sitting in the pound seats after the opening day means mission accomplished for Solomon.

“We had a great start and put in one surge that got us a good advantage but unfortunately we had a few issues. Luckily we kept our cool and came back and get the lead again at about the halfway stage.

“They have got the work to do to get back that 90 seconds so we just have to keep the right pace and not make any mistakes,” Solomon commented.

The to-ing and fro-ing at the front of the race for the first half would have given the international pair of Moule and Van Bakel a lift, however they were unable to stay with the favourites and had settle for the consolation of second.

“Joep did a lot of the work in the middle of the day and he pulled me along until I managed to start contributing towards the end of the day when I started feeling better.

“If we can start tomorrow how we finished today then I think that it will be a very interesting race.

“Having a partner that you are working with throughout the race means that these gaps of 90 seconds or so can come and go fairly quickly.

“A positive for us is that we could see the guys in front of us at the end so we aren’t too far off,” Moule added.

The fight for the third and final podium spot was an exciting one with two teams battling it out to the line until Gavin White and Bartho Visser pipped Jermaine Pietersen and Anders Hart for the final podium spot.

In the mixed doubles category Century City/Pink Lady’s Bianca Beavitt and Crispin Thompson dominated the other pairs to take a substantial advantage into the second stage on Thursday.

It was a solid performance from the pair who finished in sixth position overall.

Leading the age group battle is the Change a Life Capensis pair of Mpilo Zondi and Mthobisi Cele while the first Under 18 crew was the duo of Melvino Klaase and Angelo Smith.

The second stage of the 2018 Berg River Canoe marathon will take paddlers 35km from Gouda to the overnight stop at Bridgetown. More information can be found at www.berg.org.za

SUMMARY OF RESULTS – Berg River Canoe Marathon Stage One

Overall
1.Graeme Solomon/Adrian Boros (Team Bamboo Warehouse) 4:45:52
2.Keith Moule/Joep van Bakel 4:47:33
3.Gavin White/Bartho Visser 5:03:52
4.Anders Hart/Jermaine Pietersen 5:03:58
5.Mthobisi Cele/Mpilo Zondi (U23) (Capensis) 5:06:12
6.Bianca Beavitt/Crispin Thompson 5:08:44
7.Loveday Zondi/Richard Cele 5:09:11
8.John de Villiers/Heinrich Schloms 5:11:59
9.Daan du Toit/Gert van Deventer 5:12:01
10.Greg van Heerden/Anthony Wostenholm 5:12:18

Mixed
1.Bianca Beavitt/Crispin Thompson 5:08:44

Under 23
1.Mthobisi Cele/Mpilo Zondi (Capensis) 5:06:12
2.Evan Knight/Brandon Macleod 5:29:54

Under 18
1.Melvino Klaase/Angelo Smith 5:27:30