Up­set on day one of the Fish

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - SPORT - RICHARD VON WILDEMAN

AF­TER an ac­tion-packed day one at the Hansa Fish Marathon, two boats will set off for the ti­tle to­day.

Win­ning the first stage by the smallest of mar­gins over de­fend­ing champs Greg Louw and Andy Bir­kett were the crew of Stu MacLaren and Cyrille Carre (France).

MacLaren is hav­ing a great sea­son, hav­ing re­cently won the Breede River Marathon.

“I have never been in this po­si­tion in my life be­fore [lead­ing the Fish River Ca­noe Marathon],” MacLaren said af­ter their stage win.

“Cyrille was in­cred­i­ble in the back of the boat and de­spite this be­ing his first big river race he was so strong.”

Louw had the mis­for­tune of los­ing his juice af­ter a mal­func­tion with his drink­ing sys- tem early which ham­pered his plans for the last 15km.

“It was a good day for us to­day de­spite the fact that I didn’t have juice un­til we got to Katkop,” Louw said.

“For­tu­nately I’ve got such a strong part­ner so he man­aged to get us to Katkop with the rest of the group.”

To­day’s stage is 10km shorter and is a lot less tech­ni­cal and there­fore will see the two crews go­ing ham­mer and tongs for the just on two hours it takes for the top boats to fin­ish day two.

Hav­ing grown up on the banks of the Fish River, Louw and Bir­kett will have a slight ad­van­tage go­ing into the cru­cial fi­nal ob­sta­cle – the fa­mous Cradock Weir.

A 2m drop with only 5km left to the fin­ish line, the weir is the fo­cal point of the marathon.

Huge crowds gather to wit­ness the chaos of the fish-and-chips en­trants giv­ing it their all.

A re­verse start­ing or­der en­sures that the back mark­ers can wit­ness the top crews dic­ing for glory. Sur­prise pack­age from day one were the team of Hank McGre­gor and Lee Furby com­ing home fourth.

McGre­gor and Furby de­cided to en­ter the Fish on a so­cial ba­sis as the pair are friends and busi­ness part­ners.

Furby, rac­ing on the adren­a­line of pad­dling with a sport­ing icon, would dearly love to move into a podium re­sult to­day.

Lead­ing the women’s race are Brid­gette Hart­ley and Ser­bian Krisztina Bedec over Jenna Ward and Anna Kozikova.

With only a minute buf­fer be­tween the two crews, a thrilling cat-and-mouse chase will de­cide who lifts the ladies’ crown.

Next week sees the kick-off of the Seag­ull Surf­ski Series from Pol­lok Beach, Sum­mer­strand, com­pris­ing an 8km long-course and 4km short­course pad­dle.


OVER­ALL HON­OURS: In a sur­prise re­sult, the pair­ing of Stu­art MacLaren, front, and Cyrille Carre claimed the end sprint to take the over­all hon­ours af­ter the first stage of the 2017 Fish River Ca­noe Marathon yes­ter­day

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