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Stott, Solomon lead Fish

On a day of high drama the race for the overall title in the Hansa Breede River Canoe Marathon was shortlisted to four boats after Saturday’s 37km first stage from Robertson to Bonnievale, while the women’s title race was clouded in confusion after a debate over the eligibility of female crews that demanded to be seeded with the senior men’s seeds.

At the end of warm sunny days racing on a moderate 15 cumecs river flow pre-race favourites Ant Stott and Graeme Solomon won the endsprint to the line, but will start in a bunch with Pierre-Andre Rabie and Andy Birkett, Ali Glass and Edgar Boehm and Lance King and Heinrich Schloms for the second and deciding stage to Swellendam on Sunday.

The four crews traded places throughout the first stage, with the Rabie/Birkett crew seizing the initiative in the middle of the race to streak away alone after scraping over the low sliding weir and slick work at the two low level bridge portages that followed immediately after the weir.

In the scramble to stay on the front bunch King and Schloms were dropped and had to spend an hour on an energy-sapping solo grind back to the front bunch.

As they neared the finish King and Schloms looked to break away, but in the last small rapids before the finish the wily crew of Stott and Solomon edged ahead of them and into pole position to win the sprint to the line.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿”It was a solid bunch of four and we kept up a good pace,” said Stott.

“The fact remains that we are all together in a bunch and the real racing will start tomorrow,” he added. “It’s going to be a hard days racing on the final stage.”ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿”It was a great days racing and we settled nicely into our new boat, and the new set-up that has Andy (Birkett) sitting in front,” said Rabie. “Ant (Stott) and Graeme (Solomon) were very strong on the end sprint, and I have a feeling that it might come down to an endsprint tomorrow as well.”

The women’s race was shrouded in uncertainty. Alexa Cole and Jackie Barnes insisted on being seeded in the elite men’s seeded batch, effectively foregoing all their rights to the women’s title or prizemoney.

However at the start the Adie sisters Alex and Abby moved out of the women’s seeded B batch and left with the A batch with Cole and Barnes, despite not having requested permission from the race organisers to race outside of their class

.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿The Adie siblings finished three minutes behind Cole and Barnes and five minutes clear of the classy Under-16 schoolgirls Kirsten Flanagan and Jodi Cleworth. However The Adie sisters had to face the race jury to explain their actions and were slapped with a five minute penalty, or exercising their option to race outside of the women’s class.

The sisters will have to make that decision before the start of the stage.

The hotly contested mixed doubles division was dominated on the first stage by two crews, Simon van Gysen and Amy Hare and surfski ace Tom  Schilperoort and Samantha Murray. These two boats were eight minutes quicker than any other mixed doubles crew over the first stage and will be locked in a fascinating tussle for the title on Sunday.

The low river conditions caused plenty of drama at the Secunda weir, where the strong suck-back at the chute caused the majority of the field to capsize.┬áÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿The lifesavers on duty had to struggle for several minutes to locate a Gauteng paddler who was trapped in the recycling water at the base of the weir before they fortuitously latched onto the man’s foot and pulled him to safety before stabilising him and transferring him to hospital where he is reported to be recovering.

The 33.7 km second stage ends at the Kambati Resort close to Swellendam on Sunday.

Main results

1 Ant Stott/Graeme Solomon 2:17.18ÔÇ¿, 2 Alasdair Glass/Edgar Boehm 2:17.20ÔÇ¿3,┬á Lance King/Heinrich Schloms 2:17.21ÔÇ¿, 4 Pierre-Andre Rabie/Andy Birkett 2:17.22ÔÇ¿, 5 Steve Farrell/Nick Burden 2:23.05ÔÇ¿, 6 Stu McLaren/Lance Kime 2:23.06ÔÇ¿, 7 Trentle Lamble/Andrew Birkett 2:24.45ÔÇ¿, 8 Craig Flanagan/Dom Notten 2:27.21ÔÇ¿, 9 Diaan du Toit/Hennie du Plooy 2:28.51ÔÇ¿, 10 Simon van Gysen/Amy Hare 2:29.07

WOMEN

1 Kirsten Flanagan/Jodi Cleworth 2:42.25ÔÇ¿, 2 Kim Burgman/Angie Gafney 2:42.51ÔÇ¿, 3 Abby Adie/Alex Adie 2:47.32ÔÇ¿, 4 Robyn Henderson/Jean Wilson 2:49.32, ÔÇ¿5 Kerry Louw/Kirsten Wessels 2:25.16ÔÇ¿6 Marisa Pretorius/She-Earl de Wee 2:57.41


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