Century City Canoe Club featured at the Fish

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Date 05 April 2017
Author Liesel

Thirteen members of the Century City Canoe Club have returned from Cradock after competing in the Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon which was also the SA K1 Marathon River Championships. They took on South Africa's best paddlers and some International stars in this exciting two day river race in the heart of the Eastern Cape. The race is run over two days starting from Grassridge dam, with lots of exciting rapids all the way to Cradock 82km down river. Around 1,500 paddlers take part in over 400 single kayaks (K1); 500 double kayaks (K2) and about 100 three man kayaks (K3).

Under 23 paddler, Stuart Maclaren who is studying at UCT and not familiar to most club members, surprised many with a fantastic 14th place overall. Club stalwarts Ivan Kruger, Richard McMartin, Gavin White and John de Villiers posted excellent personal times in 23rd, 26th, 34th and 61st places respectively. Protea flatwater paddler Gavin White did well in the rough waters of the Fish, which is full of thrills and spills and always has a fair number of casualties and upsets.

Based on his highly successful river paddling season in the Western Cape, Ivan Kruger was the Club’s pre-race favourite to make an impression in the under 23 category and possibly break into the top 10 overall. Ivan did his first “Fish” river marathon at the age of 14 and this was his 7th in a row!

I asked Ivan to describe the race “It was as always an epic race! The first day saw me having some equipment failure (a leaking splash cover) meaning I lost a lot of time due to my boat continually filling up with water. On day 2, after borrowing a “splashy”, I redeemed myself by posting the 11th fastest time for the day and a few seconds behind the 3rd placed u23! Despite my equipment failure on the first day I still managed to catch up from 31st to 23rd place in the 800 odd boats that finished the race.”

When asked who he was competing against, he replied respectfully “As predicted the race up front was pretty tough. With neither Hank MacGregor (the 2011 World Flatwater Marathon Champion) or Len Jenkins (who was unbeaten in a K1 in this race in the last 10 years) wanting to give the other even the slightest advantage. They spent the two days breathing down each other’s necks until a stopper wave in the last kilometre slowed Hank and made him lose some momentum. This gave Len the opportunity to then put the hammer down and win the overall title for the sixth time.”

The top three u23 paddlers were all in the top 10 overall illustrating the competitiveness of the “young guns”. He spoke cheerfully about his rivals. “The eventual u23 winner was Grant van der Walt who was recently crowned World u23 Marathon Champion who came in 3rd overall. The other two top u23 paddlers were 5th and 8th overall which is testament to the strength of u23 paddling in South Africa.”

Ivan has only just turned 20 but he has demonstrated that he is among the top three under 23 paddlers in the country, by
• coming second in the South African Flatwater Marathon Championships
• winning the arduous 240km Berg River Marathon
• coming second in the Breede River Marathon (in a double canoe with Josie Williams of Paarl Canoe Club).
It is noteworthy that he was placed in the top 10 OVERALL in the country in both the latter river paddling events.

He is no stranger "Punching above this weight" having previously broken the u18 record at the Berg River Marathon at the age of 15! Ivan obtained his Protea junior colours in 2010 and took part in the World Marathon Championships in Spain where he was placed 9th in the world in his age category.

It is now straight into the surfski season and Ivan will be setting his sights on the Cape Town World Cup race and the Cape Point Challenge in December, then he’s back into a river kayak for the Unlimited Dusi Canoe Marathon in February. With this heavy schedule, the costs of race fees, travelling expenses, coaching and sports nutrition are a challenge on their own without any supporting sponsors, but he is determined to reach his ultimate goal of becoming a World Champion.

                  Ivan Kruger                                           Gavin Finch                                       John De Villiers