5 October 2009
Len Jenkins entrenched himself as “King of the Fish” by shattering his own race record en route to winning the 27th edition of the Hansa Powerade Fish Canoe Marathon in the Eastern Cape on the weekend.
The top three men all finished inside the old race record, which Jenkins Lowered by more than six minutes, while the German sprint world champion Max Hoff stormed past Hank McGregor to claim second place on the day, shattering the stage record in the process.
“This win is particularly special because it was achieved against a world champion,” said Jenkins, paying tribute to 1 000m gold medallist Hoff.
“Max is an incredible athlete. Nobody really grasps that he won the world title by several boat lengths, not just a few centimetres.”
McGregor also heaped praise on Jenkins, describing him as a “machine”, and also gave full credit to Hoff for his superhuman charge on the final stage. “It’s hard work trying to catch a world champ, but at least I managed to get ahead of him going into Cradock Weir.”
Under-23 world champion Grant van der Walt finished fourth, keeping the fired up Czech wildwater ace Robert Knebel at bay in fifth place.
Cradock ace Greg Louw saw his race end in disaster when his kayak was crumpled by the force of the water at Cradock weir, sending him tumbling from an overnight sixth place to outside the top 10.
The women’s race came to a head with the title contenders locked together as they approached Cradock Weir, six kilometres from the finish. Pre-race favourite Michele Eray surged from third to first in a gutsy charge that left her holding all the cards going into the weir.
However, she was upended in the churning water at the foot of the weir and had to be pulled to safety by the lifesavers, completing a race that was repeatedly hampered by mishaps. Her chances of a speedy recovery were further hampered by her kayak getting sucked into the backwash at the foot of the weir.
“I screamed at the lifesavers to leave me and get my boat rather,” said Eray afterwards. “But by the time they had pulled me out, my boat was well and truly stuck in the suckback.”
Shot the weir
Overnight leader Robyn Kime was next and, reflecting her superbly consistent form, she calmly shot Cradock Weir and raced away to claim the women’s title.
Vacikova also mastered the drop at the big weir to secure the silver medal, while Eray had to be content with the last place on the podium.
“Someone else’s misfortune became my good fortune,” said Kime, after crossing the line to claim the win, and with it the South African K1 river title.
“I was very nervous of Cradock Weir and when I saw that Michele had swum at Cradock Weir, I realised that this was my race to lose.”
Vacikova was delighted with her second place, and tipped Kime for future stardom. “Robyn will soon be a wild water champion. If she decides to race in the K2 race next year, with Michele or Abie next year, then Micha (Mruskova) and I are in big trouble to try and defend our title.”
The junior boys’ title went to the current world marathon champion Brandon van der Walt, who finished in thirteenth overall, while the junior girls’ title was sealed by Cradock local Hanre Maree in a record-breaking time that shaved 30 seconds off Robyn Kime’s 2007 mark.
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