A dramatic power shift saw sisters Tamika and Bianca Haw take control of the women’s race on stage two of the 2020 Dusi Canoe Marathon while men’s race leaders Andy Birkett and Khumbulani Nzimande recovered from a mishap to take a second stage victory on Friday.
It was a day of high drama on a full uMngeni River as an unexpected swim by Birkett and Nzimande at Gauging Weir meant that their overnight lead was completely erased while the Haw sisters turned the tables on day one leaders Christie Mackenzie and Cana Peek to take a more than eight minute lead going into the final stage.
The potential procession into the finish was curtailed early when the leaders Birkett and Nzimande fell out of their K2 kayak and chasers Thulani Mbanjwa and Sbonelo Khwela were on hand to make them pay as they scampered away to lead the race just above the Marianni-Foley Causeway.
Birkett’s initial reaction was race over, however he and Nzimande showed resolve to work their way back into the lead despite the mishap.
“I said to Khumbulani before the race that we will make mistakes and it’s important that we just keep calm and keep on pushing,” Euro Steel’s Birkett said.
“I won’t lie the first thing that came to my mind when we popped out of the boat was that our Dusi challenge was out the window!
“When we got back in the boat we knew we didn’t have to try and catch them in the next two kilometres and just pace ourselves.
“Luckily we had put a bit of time into Sbonelo and Banji before Gauging Weir so we also had enough time to catch them.”
For Khwela and Mbanjwa despite relinquishing the lead they knew that it was not worth trying to maintain a speed they couldn’t with a lot of paddling on the cards tomorrow.
“We didn’t want to use up too much power today on the dam because we have the paddle around Burma Road tomorrow,” Red Bull/Euro Steel’s Khwela said.
“It is going to be an exciting day because it has been twelve years since I last paddled that section of the river.”
The battle for third in the men’s race was another focus of attention as the FNB Change a Life crew of Banetse Nkhoesa and Msawenkosi Mtolo duelled with the Capetonian duo of Lance Kime and Shaun Rubenstein throughout the 46 kilometre stage, ending in a sprint to the line won by former marathon world champion Rubenstein and former Dusi champ Kime.
It was an unfortunate day for the women’s overnight leaders Christie Mackenzie and Cana Peek who bent their rudder above the Washing Machine section of the river shortly after the Msundusi meets the Mngeni and spent a lot of time trying to repair it before replacing it all together.
Despite this the Haw sisters had made a charge early and reduced the deficit considerably in the first third of the stage and were strong throughout the second and longest stage of the race.
“It was hard work out there but Yanks (Bianca) drove like a star,” Glencairn’s Tamika Haw said. “We knew today well because we had done our homework and that played into our hands.
“We have a good lead going into day three and from what I remember it is a lot of fun.
“Burma Road has always been the option for us but we aren’t disappointed that we are going to have to paddle around and are excited about the challenge,” she added.
The young pair of Euro Steel’s Peek and Euro Steel/Varsity College’s Mackenzie were all smiles at the finish despite their mechanical issues during the day and Peek saw the lighter side of their tribuations.
“We had a minor driving skills issue with a vision impairment from the rain,” Peek said with a wry smile.
“We had some rudder problems in the trickiest part of the river but we kept a level head and did what we could to get it fixed.
“From there we just put our heads down and had to grind it out through to the end.”
Following a second solid day of paddling in a row the Euro Steel/Gara Paddles pair of Jenna Ward and Kyeta Purchase finished in third and consolidated their spot on the final step of the podium going into stage three.
In the age group racing Thabani Msia and Mvelo Ngidi managed to hold onto the under 23 category top spot, but Hamish Mackenzie and David Evans have made ground on the pair and now sit four minutes adrift of the leading crew, with the Gwamanda pair of Jabulani and Siyanda lying in third overnight.
Christie Mackenzie and Cana Peek are the lead under 23 boat in the women’s category ahead of Amy Peckett and Cara Waud while it’s the Under 18 pair of Shannon Parker-Dennison and Frances Forsyth who were the third under 23 boat across the line.
In the junior men’s race it’s nearly all Michaelhouse with Chase Leisegang and Ross Leslie leading ahead of the crew of Sam Butcher and Matthew Millward while Jack Edmonds and Kwandokuhle Mzolo are in third.
Chasing Parker-Dennison and Forsyth in the under 18 women’s race are Georgina Howard and Saskia Hockly in second and the under 16 pair of Melonie Croeser and Olivia Woodburn in third place.
The third and final stage of the Dusi Canoe Marathon takes paddlers 32km from Msinsi Resort at Inanda Dam to Blue Lagoon.
SUMMARY OR RESULTS – 2020 Dusi Canoe Marathon Stage Two
1.Andy Birkett/Khumbulani Nzimande 2:54:05 5:33:12
2.Thulani Mbanjwa/Sbonelo Khwela 2:55:47 5:35:55
3.Lance Kime/Shaun Rubenstein 2:58:14 5:41:07
4.Banetse Nkhoesa/Msawenkosi Mtolo 2:57:50 5:41:08
5.Ant Stott/Carl Folscher 2:57:43 5:44:48
6.Alan Houston/Andrew Houston 2:54:29 5:46:14
7.Murray Starr/Owen Gandar 3:00:43 5:55:25
8.Jacques Theron/Stew Little 3:00:46 5:55:25
9.Thabani Msia/Mvelo Ngidi (U23) 3:06:53 5:55:26
10.Hamish Mackenzie/David Evans (U23) 3:04:48 5:59:47
11.Piers Cruickshanks/Roger Mortlock 3:07:53 6:00:15
12.Raymond Radebe/Mlandeni Radebe 3:06:54 6:04:29
13.Mpilo Zondi/Loveday Zondi 3:10:34 6:04:30
14.Richard Cele/Nhlanhla Cele 3:12:25 6:04:31
15.Lucas Mthalane/Mfaniseni Nyambose 3:16:52 6:09:17
1.Tamika Haw/Bianca Haw 3:19:59 6:33:19
2.Christie Mackenzie/Cana Peek (U23) 3:31:10 6:42:22
3.Jenna Ward/Kyeta Purchase 3:25:25 6:50:47
4.Bridgitte Hartley/Tracey Oellermann 3:36:16 7:06:06
5.Hilary Bruss/Hayley Nixon 3:36:25 7:17:57
6.Amy Peckett/Cara Waud (U23) 3:43:33 7:20:31
7.Tracey van Greunen/Natasha Bradford 3:50:10 7:33:43
8.Shannon Parker-Dennison/Frances Forsyth (U18) 4:03:25 7:44:28
9.Georgina Howard/Saskia Hockly (U18) 4:04:44 7:52:27
10.Melonie Croeser/Olivia Woodburn (U16) 4:10:06 8:03:03
Under 23 Men
1.Thabani Msia/Mvelo Ngidi 3:06:53 5:55:26
2.Hamish Mackenzie/David Evans 3:04:48 5:59:47
3.Jabulani Gwamanda/Siyanda Gwamanda 3:10:24 6:13:18
4.Alex Masina/Bongani Ntinga 3:10:58 6:13:51
5.Sandile Mtolo/Xolile Kondile 3:17:33 6:22:34
Under 23 Women
1.Christie Mackenzie/Cana Peek 3:31:10 6:42:22
2.Amy Peckett/Cara Waud 3:43:33 7:20:31
3.Shannon Parker-Dennison/Frances Forsyth (U18) 4:03:25 7:44:28
Under 18 Boys
1.Ross Leslie/Chase Leisegang 3:11:23 6:13:17
2.Sam Butcher/Matthew Millward 3:13:42 6:24:16
3.Jack Edmonds/Kwandokuhle Mzolo 3:19:41 6:28:31
4.Jarryd Walker/Mlungisi Hlongwane 3:30:43 7:02:52
5.Jonathan Cumming/Jordan Bense 3:36:54 7:03:45
Under 18 Girls
1.Shannon Parker-Dennison/Frances Forsyth 4:03:25 7:44:28
2.Georgina Howard/Saskia Hockly 4:04:44 7:52:27
3.Melonie Croeser/Olivia Woodburn 4:10:06 8:03:03
Under 16 Boys/Girls
1.Jack Shooter/Reuben Baldry 3:53:36 7:39:42
2.Melonie Croeser/Olivia Woodburn 4:10:06 8:03:03