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Congratulations to Tom Lovemore who claimed his first Berg win, in a remarkable battle with Robbie Herreveld, who he only shook of after Ordraplek, some 10km from the finish on day 4. At 52-years-old, Robbie is double the age of Tom, but he still has that incredible, unhurried stroke coupled with an evil grind that helped him win more Bergs (6) or Umko’s (9) than any other paddler – until Hank arrived on the scene and decided he wanted to be the GOAT. So yep, well done to Robbie who won from 1991-1996 and was so close to winning some 30 years later. A fantastic achievement and we hope to see him back on more rivers – had Robbie been in the same form and at Umko this year he would most likely have been on the podium there too. Tom also claimed his first Umko win this year, so he is an exciting young prospect, while his brother Hamish won the K2 Sprints and the Marathons (K2, K1 long and K1 short) so the Lovemore’s must be loving paddling at the moment. They are the proud builders of the new Salt brand down in the Eastern Cape; but up here we support Set Kayaks, Canoe Concepts and Fenn.

First home from Emmie’s was Siseko in 6th while Phineas just missed out on the top 10. In another remarkable performance, Ryno die Main Ou came 13th overall, less than a 10th of a second behind 12th – making this his best performance in his 18 Bergs. Well done boss, although our reporters suggest that he did what he does best and owned the diamond. Next home was Ethan as the second U23 and behind him were Monty and Woody who clearly enjoyed each-others company for days 2, 3 and 4; probably talking about cycling. They just beat the first lady home, Stephanie Von Der Hyde from the Western Cape. Wonga was the 4th U23 while Mat Cockram finished his 15th as 2nd Sub Grand Master and just behind him was Chuckie, fresh from Comrades and a little short on canoeing miles, although he now has a lot more than most of us. Somewhat further back were the Berg novices Graig and Daniel; well done guys, and then we had Karen finishing as the 8th lady and second sub master. Karen paddled the 2021 Berg in a K2 with Callie, so this was technically also a first for Feltie. Well done to all who braved and finished this iconic race.

Not many braved Emmarentia on either Saturday or Sunday, most sensibly stayed in bed, and it will be interesting to see if the Tuesday Morning School regulars will confront what looks to be the coldest morning of the year to date. Braver still; actually mad; is anyone who attempts an ocean crossing on the Osiyeza. Moolies’ boat is docked at Emmarentia. The cabin makes a jail cell look luxurious; and the food in jail is probably better too. In other news, Stanley has ordered a new Nelo, and has in anticipation, put more padding on his boat rack than he has on his body; looking good Stan.

This weekend it’s the SA Surfski Champs in Durban and the following week it’s the U23 Sprint World Champs in Plovdiv Bulgaria, where we have Alexa Godden competing, fresh from racing with the seniors in Italy where both she and Esti had fantastic results including a K2 Silver medal. Good luck to all our Navy paddlers and to Alexa.

And then it’s the start of the Olympics and the River season – think about going to the Tugela 20’s and come do the Winter TT series to get yourself an awesome puffer jacket. T&C’s apply.

Till next time – Go Dabs!