011 486 0979 info@dabulamanzi.co.za
The SA Canoe Polo Championships were held in March in Knysna, with 13 Dabs members representing Gauteng, who excelled. In the U18 Boys final, Gauteng had three Dabs players and they claimed the silver medal playing against Western Province; while the Gauteng U18 Girls team who had 4 Dabs players beat KZN to become the South African U18 Champions. In the men’s division Cliffie and Geachie played for the Gauteng Mens B team who finished 5th in Division 1, while the Gauteng Mens A team finished 1st in Division 1 and became the reigning SA Champs for the 3rd year in a row! Congratulations to Niel Burger, Ruhan Hardy and Kyle Marx from Dabs. Notably, all the players who represented Gauteng at the SA Champs, won the tug of war event at the inaugural Dabs Games, so if you want to be a strong paddler (and learn crucial basic strokes) then talk to Niel and Co and start doing some training with the polo people, they guarantee lots of fun.
Less fun was the Freedom Paddle. Over 400 people paid up for the 6th edition, a 27-kilometre ocean-race that celebrates South Africa’s Freedom Day with a paddle around the iconic Robben Island. The event is open to all human-powered paddle craft that are seaworthy enough to complete the course, so there was a mix of 244 Rowing Boats, SUPS, Prone Boards, Kayaks and Surfski’s entered for both the long and short course. On the day only 223 craft started the race and just 192 would finish.

A cold front arrived in Cape Town bringing rain and fog. The organisers said they couldn’t see the Island and delayed the start by an hour. The fog turned to a light mist, the rain stopped, and the race was started with the North Westerly blowing at about 10 knots, gusting at 20, with the swell running at over 2meters, coming from the Southwest; or from the side. That meant headbanging stuff for the first 10km from the Oceana Club to the Island. For the average Transvaal Navy seaman it was a sluggish start with the slower boats never getting up enough speed to empty the bucket seats and footwells which were constantly being swamped by the side swells, so the back paddler basically sat in a pool of ice-cold water for most of the morning. The Island provided a 2 or 3km respite from the wind, but after the short lull came the real storm. Going around the Northeast corner, out of the protection of the Island, it seemed like the wind and the swell actually picked up. Massive mountains of water advanced sideways towards the paddlers, threatening to toss them out their boats and onto the intimidating rocks. Most took a very deep line around the Island and then felt a little better when they could eventually see Cape Town. The wind then dropped, but the swells got messier, bumpy and lumpy. The runs didn’t line up nicely and the 12 plus km’s back home were not much faster or easier than those going out. Most agreed it was a challenging morning, and many of the Navy only really started to enjoy the day when back on terra firma with a beer in hand.

For proper sea paddlers who play on the ocean all the time it was a different story. Hank McGregor and Josh Fenn cruised home easily in just over two hours, over 2minutes ahead of Uli Hart and Andy Birkett. The winning ladies Michelle Burn and Saskia Hockly won by just 30 seconds from Candice Murray and Kira Bester, in 19th and 20th overall.

From Dabs Ricci and Wayne came 10th while Brad B and MJ came 14th. One place in front of them was Alan Van Coller with Davey Brand. Van, (ex Wits and Dabs) hasn’t paddled in about 20 years; but back in the day he was a big river paddler before he represented SA at two Olympic Games, and we hope he will now join Dabs as a country member. After some river DNFs, our Dabblers Drummer Marky Mark arrived home safely with Alex. Brad Fish and Siseko who could normally eat up 27km on a dam or river quick-stix needed 3 hours, but they did go the wrong way at the start – although we are not sure how Brad managed that. Next home was Clive paddling with an injured Alan Neate (Washy’s brother) followed closely Schumpie Hume with Charl van Wyk. In total we only had 12 Dabs members paddling; 10 finished with the real hero of our club being Elandrie, who paddled with Lyn Bennett to bank her first ever ocean race; an incredibly testing introduction. The lesson here is A: Our chairlady is tough, don’t mess with her, and B: If you really want to, you can. We hope to see more people like E3 at both sea and river races. Hopefully next year’s conditions won’t be so kak.

Back in Jo’burg the 2023 SA Schools and Senior Sprint Canoeing Championships are taking place at VLC, with almost 70 Dabs and SCARC paddlers vying for spots on the various South African teams to race internationally later this year, including the Junior and Under 23 World Championship as well as the Olympic Hope squads. We wish them all well and will share results after the weekend. We hope that everyone has Workers Day off and gets to enjoy some fun in the sun. Go Dabs!