6 November 2013
World marathon champion Hank McGregor and his new K2 partner Jasper Mocke demonstrated the strength of their new partnership with an emphatic victory in the Vaal Marathon that decided the 2013 South African K2 River Championship titles on the weekend.
The duo, who are friends through their shared passion for surfski racing, finished the first stage together with the exciting, new Dusi crew of Andy Birkett and Sbonelo Zondi, but took their chances well on the final stage to romp to victory by more than six minutes.
The same crews will have an opportunity to test themselves on part of the Dusi route this coming weekend when they contest the Ozzie Gladwin, South Africa’s leading one-day event, which takes place just outside Pietermaritzburg.
McGregor, who is no stranger to winning the Vaal or SA K2 titles, was elated with the weekend’s victory, particularly as he and Mocke had not sat in a boat together before the race.
“Luckily we were able to settle into the boat almost straight away,” McGregor said after securing the title. “We both sat straight, which meant that we were able concentrate on putting the pressure on the other guys.”
After early pace-setting from Len Jenkins and Greg Louw on day one, McGregor and Mocke raced away to end the first stage with only Birkett and Zondi on their wave.
At the Benoude Boude Rapids on the final stage, McGregor and Mocke managed to shake off Birkett and Zondi, and decided to break away alone.
“It was a solo charge, which is maybe not the cleverest thing to do. On the Vaal there is nowhere to hide, and you can pay a hefty price for going it alone on all that flatwater,” McGregor admitted.
“But we quickly realised that we were dropping them and by the time we got to the Goose Bay Weir we had a lead of a minute-and-a-quarter, so we just went it alone.”
While McGregor and Mocke raced away almost assured of victory, Birkett and Zondi were caught by Jenkins and Louw, who sneaked past them in the last rapid of the race, only 400 metres from the finish, and beat them to the finishing line to claim second place.
Jacques Theron, who has recently relocated to the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, secured fourth place with his new partner Shaun Griffin, who also lives in that region.
In the women’s race, Abby Adie and Donna Tutton were able to edge out the pre- race favourites Hilary Bruss and Olympic medallist Bridgitte Hartley to clinch the national K2 crown.
Bruss and Hartley took a swim at the first rapid shortly after the start of the first stage, forcing them to play catch-up.
A swim on the final stage at Benoude Boude Rapid opened the door for Adie and Tutton to scamper away to claim victory.
Talented youngsters Jenna Ward and Kerry Segal wrapped up the last spot on the women’s podium.
- Hank McGregor/Jasper Mocke 4:23:25
- Len Jenkins/Greg Louw 4:29:23
- Andy Birkett/Sbonelo Zondi 4:29:27
- Jacques Theron/Shaun Griffin 4:32:13
- Cam Schoeman/Ivan Kruger 4:33:29
- Piers Cruikshanks/Siseko Ntondini 4:33:31
- Thulani Mbanjwa/Mthobisi Cele 4:39:49
- Lucas Mthalane/Mmeli Cele 4:39:50
- Loveday Zondi/Thando Ngamlana 4:42:45
- Michael Stewart/Brandon Collyer 4:46:42
- Abby Adie/Donna Tutton 5:03:20
- Hilary Pitchford/Bridgitte Hartley 5:12:46
- Jenna Ward/Kerry Segal 5:21:53
- Marion Young/Angela Scruby 5:35:25
- Morgan Ziervogel/Anya Botes 5:38:17