South Africa: Defending Champs Master Low Breede Marathon to Retain Their Crown.

Stu MacLaren and Kenny Rice raced away on a low river to retain their title at the Breede River Canoe Marathon champions.

This comes after they posted a comfortable win over the crew of Gavin White and Loveday Zondi, with canoeing 'comeback kid' Shaun Rubenstein stunning the event by racing to third with young star Jordan Zeelie.

The pairing of MacLaren and Rice held a massive five and a half minute lead after the 33-kilometre first stage from Bonnievale to Kam'Bati Resort, and extended that by another three minutes on the shortened second stage from Drew Bridge to Kam'Bati.

This was a fourth Breede title on the trot for MacLaren.

'Mission accomplished,' said MacLaren. 'We managed to win the race again and just as importantly, it served as a good hard training session for the marathon world champs in two weeks' time.

'This combination with Kenny seems to get better and better every time we race together. We clicked nicely this weekend, and that will gives us great momentum going into the worlds in Portugal,' said MacLaren.

'Day one was a bit of a mess!' he said. 'We would manage to get away and then we would paddle up onto some rocks or a shelf, but after getting us out, this allowed two crashing boats to catch up again.

'Once we were past Drew Bridge the water became easier to paddle and we managed to get away to grind out a five and a half minute lead, which was an advantage going into the shortened second stage also starting at Drew Bridge,' MacLaren continued.

The pair made no mistakes on the short second stage although the Breede River was still running low, despite the arrival of the cold front in the weekend.

This made the hallmark Waterfall Rapid a compulsory portage due to the low water conditions.

Behind them the race for second, and national silver medals, provided thrilling entertainment for the spectators.

Local marathon stalwart Gavin White had secured Gauteng icon Loveday Zondi for the race, and they were locked in a needle tussle against the crew of young Eastern Cape speedster, Zeelie and Rubenstein who made his return after a long lay-off.

With Zeelie driving the boat, leaving Rubenstein to concentrate on providing the power from the back seat, the second place position changed numerous times.

White used his guile to get ahead by taking a sneak channel, but the battle was finally settled when Rubenstein and Zeelie holed their boats five kilometres from the second stage finish, clearly leaving White and Zondi as the silver medallists.

Just as thrilling, was the charge by U23 athletes Zach Preyser and Dan Jacobs, who stormed from sixth overnight to finish fourth, winning a stacked race for the SA U23 K2 river marathon crown.

Bartho Visser and Gustav Smook finished just off their rudder and took the U18 honours, with Ross Leslie and Sam Butcher netting the Under 16 medals.

A last minute change from a K1 entry to a Mixed Double entry saw Jess Pollock and Simon Van Gysen bag the Canoeing SA gold medal in that class after racing to a solid sixth place overall.

Kim van Gysen added another SA title when she and Abigail Liesegang crossed the finish line as the first all-female crew home.

Dom Notten was the first K1 home in 13th overall, just ahead of Phillip Smith.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS BREEDE RIVER CANOE MARATHON 2018 SA K2 RIVER CHAMPS

1.Stu MacLaren/Kenny Rice 3:34:48

2.Gavin White/Loveday Zondi 3:41:05

3.Shaun Rubenstein/Jordan Zeelie 3:43:49

4.Zach Preyser/Daniel Jacobs (1st U23) 3:43:57

5.Bartho Visser/Gustav Smook (1st U18) 3:46:06

6.Simon Van Gysen/Jess Pollock (1st MD) 3:46:11

7.Anders Hart/Evan Knight 3:51:52

8.Daan du Toit/Gert van Deventer 3:52:32

9.Craig Heenan/Thomas Lovemore 3:55:27

10.Bianca Beavitt/Crispin Thompson 3:56:20

11.Ross Leslie/Sam Butcher (1st U16) 3:56:43

12.Melanie van Niekerk/Scheepers Schoeman 3:56:50

13.Dom Notten (1st K1) 3:56:57

14.Phillip Smith 3:57:18

15.Richard Allen/Richard Kohler 3:59:52

16.Gustav Smook/Gordon Spalding 3:59:53

17.Mynhardt Marais/Jermaine Petersen 4:07:34

18.Kyle Nel/greg van Heerden 4:09:09

19.Bevan Manson/Richard Tebbutt 4:10:52

20.Johnathan Niemann 4:11:46

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