SA dominate down under with double at Avon Descent
Team Best 4 Kayak Centre bagged a double for South Africa at the Avon Descent Canoe marathon in Western Australia on Sunday, when Hank McGregor and Grant van der Walt won the race overall and Abby Adie and Hillary Pitchford took the women’s title in brutally tough low river conditions. McGregor and van der Walt were content to race the first stage in a five boat bunch.
They were regularly forced to get out of their kayak to negotiate the shallow rapids and weirs as well as the numerous ti-tree thickets.
“I reckon we got out of our boat over a hundred times on the first stage,” said McGregor. “We were happy to stay together, and we only worked to get away near the end of the stage.”
Once McGregor and van der Walt hit the tidal waters of the Swan river estuary on the final stage into Perth they were able to power away to open up a six and a half minute victory margin over another Durban crew Darryl Bartho and Grant Woollaston.
The win is the third Avon victory in a row for McGregor and a maiden win for van der Walt. The duo are training for their assault on the K2 title at the world marathon championships in Rome later in the year.
The South African crew of Team Best 4 Kayak Centre’s Abby Adie and Hillary Pitchford (Team Matelec) obliterated the female opposition in a gutsy performance that saw them win by close on three hours, and finish 12th overall in the doubles field.
The race, which is Australia’s premier river marathon, celebrated its 40th anniversary in the second lowest river conditions in the race’s history. Many social paddlers took advantage of a shortened race course to combat the brutally low river conditions.
The domination of the Avon Descent by the South Africans was mirrored by excellent performances at the Sella Descent in Spain where Michele Eray marked her return to competitive racing by winning the women’s K1 title and Ant Stott and Cam Schoeman finished fifth in a very hotly contested men’s K2 race.
On the other side of the world, Dawid Mocké won the US Surfski champs from his Fish Hoek SLC teammate Sean Rice as South African paddlers filled the first four places.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
MEN’S K2 (Aus unless specified)
1.McGregor/Van der Walt (RSA) 10:18.46
2.Woollaston/Bartho (RSA) 10:25.12
1.Adie/Pitchford (RSA) 11:24.54