Drama shakes up Push And Pull Paddle leaderboard

Andy Birkett and Bianca Beavitt retained their leads after the second stage of the inaugural Bamboo Warehouse Push And Pull Paddle canoe marathon, while the leaderboard was dramatically shaken up by drama on the full river.

With a one minute lead in the bank after the first stage Birkett broke away after bagging the Gara hotspot at the Dal Josephat weir. After a fast portage around a tree block he approached Klei Rapid without his splashcover fitted and took on a large amount of water.

“The pumps on the boat stopped working as well so I decided to stop on the side and in doing so the other three guys managed to catch me,” said Birkett.

He remained composed and was content to reform a four-boat bunch at the front with Stew Little, Kenny Rice and Nick Notten all the way to the finish at Blou Porselein Guest Farm.

“It was great exciting racing and the full river meant we weren’t on the water all that long today,” the Euro Steel athlete added.

“There are a lot of eddies so you have to stay sharp all time. Quite a few guys took swims today because they weren’t paying attention,” said Birkett. “You were constantly being thrown left and right by the eddies because the water is flowing so fast.”

Stew Little had another solid day, mixing it with Kenny Rice and Nick Notten, while Mark Keeling dropped back to fifth going into the short, sharp final stage.

The women’s race was fraught with drama. Race leader Bianca Beavitt looked to be extending her overnight lead until she reached Klei Rapid where she was spun around and took a big swim down the centre of the rapid.

Trying to make amends for the swim she then chose some dead-end channels and slower options which added to the drama.

“With the other women starting in later batches I had no idea what was going on,” Beavitt said.

Behind her the drama intensified. At Klei Rapid Christie Mackenzie, who was enjoying a thrilling charge back into contention, lead second placed Nikki Birkett into the centre of the rapid and collided with a tree lodged in the churning water.

Her boat was wedged against the three and safety officials and bystanders leapt to her aid as she was pinned in the rapid before she floated free.

Nikki Birkett could take evasive action as she was on the back of the bunch, and stayed out of trouble to retain her second place overall, with the on-song Kim Van Gysen in third.

The K2 race saw Graeme Solomon and Andre Collins seize the race by the scruff of the neck, powering past overnight leaders Jason Goedhals and Fanta Gous to post a handsome lead going into the final stage.

The final stage is 12 kilometres from the overnight camp at Blou Porselein to the Delsma Guest Farm.

1 Andy Birkett 2:12:51.24 3:06:48.00
2 Kenneth Rice 2:12:54.37 3:07:35.53
3 Stewart Little 2:12:56.32 3:07:38.58
4 Nicholas Notten 2:12:58.41 3:08:23.10
5 Mark Keeling 2:15:55.54 3:10:38.56
6 Ernest Van Riet 2:15:53.99 3:12:15.29
7 Murray Starr 2:15:53.52 3:12:28.95
8 Stuart Maclaren 2:18:09.20 3:13:36.48
9 Bartho Visser 2:17:22.74 3:14:12.11
10 Luke Stowman 2:17:45.61 3:15:00.16

1 Bianca Beavitt 2:27:26.25 3:27:38.43
2 Nikki Birkett 2:37:04.07 3:38:44.17
3 Kim Van Gysen 2:38:09.54 3:42:27.31
4 Christie Mackenzie 2:41:36.06 3:45:06.29
5 Candice Murray 2:42:35.20 3:47:41.23

17 Graeme Solomon/Andre Collins 2:22:22.07 3:22:26.48
25 Jason Goedhals/Fanta Gous 2:26:53.27 3:26:37.68
30 Kelvin Trautman/Sabrina Chesterman 2:29:59.91 3:30:26.32
32 Chris De Waal/Dominique Desmeules 2:31:13.52 3:33:12.25

1 Rory Smyth 4:37:25.61 6:42:37.54
2 Jolene Harris 4:37:46.73 6:42:42.78
3 Guy Bubb 4:37:48.68 6:42:55.60
4 Elleni Smyth 4:38:20.81 6:42:56.53

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