Bridgitte Hartley completed the women’s double by winning the South African Marathon Championships gold medal with her new partner Melissa van Rooyen in a thrilling race for the women’s K2 title in St Francis Bay on Sunday afternoon, ratifying their selection as part of the national canoeing team to the world championships in Portugal in September.
The women’s title came at the conclusion of a dramatic four boat arm-wrestle on the tight course, with a gusting wind complicating matters. “The K2 I knew was always going to be a challenge,” said Hartley afterwards. “This was the most competitive women’s field ever.
“I just decide to keep a cool head and play the game, play the tactics, and it is all about getting better and better at the end.
“The last portage is always the most important, and I happened to have great last portages in both my K1 and K2 races, just when it counts the most.”
She said that she had tried to hide the fact that they were carrying a lot of water in the boat on the short final lap after the last portage.
“I warned Melissa that she might jump into deep water at the portage take-out, but told her not to worry if I went with the boat, she must just follow.
“We took on so much water at the last portage but I decide that I was just going to pull the boat with all the water in it because stopping to empty would have taken too much time.
“We paddled the last 800 metres full of water. I am surprised that we actually managed to pull away from the others,” said Hartley.
Silver went to Hayley Nixon and Christie Mackenzie in a sensational comeback after looking dead and buried after dropping off the bunch on the penultimate lap.
They surged past the tenacious Cape crew of Bianca Beavitt and Melanie van Niekerk, while the pedigree crew of Jenna Ward and Kyeta Purchase, both former world champs medallists, were left reeling in fourth place.
Earlier Action saw Defending Champ Capture the K1 Title
Brigitte Hartley successfully defended her national K1 title, playing her cards right to win a four boat dice for the women’s honours on the canals of St Francis.
Race tactics saw Hartley as part of a four boat drive at the front of the race, together with Jenna Ward, Hayley Nixon and Bianca Beavitt.
They stated together through the six laps and portages until the final short lap into the finish.
Nixon fell out of contention, leaving the podium to the other three, but the two spots in the national team were quickly settled when Hartley put down the hammer and only Ward could stay with her, and was happy to settle for silver alongside Hartley’s back-to-back gold medal.
“I remember getting a distant seventh at my first SA Marathon Champs, so being able to win here, against this strong a field, feels very good,” said Hartley.
“It was very fast out there, and reflects the high standard of women’s paddling in South Africa at the moment,” she added.
Team Spots for World Champs in Portugal
The event concluded with the ratification of the national junior, senior and Under 23 teams for the world championships in Portugal in September.
Summary of Results*: SA Canoe Marathon Championships (Day Three):
Senior Women K2:
1. Bridgitte Hartley, Melissa van Rooyen 2:06:11
2. Hayley Nixon, Christie Mackenzie 2:06:17
3. Bianca Beavitt, Melanie van Niekerk 2:06:22
Sub Vet Women:
1. Debbie Gillet, Lyn Bennett 1:33:39.68
2. Kirstin Scott, Tracey Campbell 1:33:40.62
1. Ronel Stevens, Cathy de Villiers 1:40:14.00
Sub Master Women:
1. Lis Hart, Romy Findlay 1:34:25.62
2. Stephanie Arndt, Penny Hulett 1:55:00.21
Sub Grand Master Women:
1. Beth Burton, Liz Russell 1:13:10.12
2. Antoinette Scholtz, Hilde Lapere 1:16:01.08
3. Solly Peckett, Brenda Myburgh 1:22:35.77
Summary of Results*: SA Canoe Marathon Championships (Day Two):
Senior Women K1:
1. Bridgitte Hartley 2:15:50.54
2. Jenna Ward 2:15:51.41
3. Bianca Beavitt 2:15:58.70
4. Hayley Nixon 2:16:05.06
5. Jane Swarbreck 2:20:02.32
6. Jessica Pollock 2:36:29.57
*More information can be found at www.canoesa.org.za
Photo 1 caption: Bridgitte Hartley (left) and Melissa van Rooyen win the women’s K2 gold medal on the final day of the South African Canoe Marathon Championships in St Francis Bay on Sunday. Photo: Sandy Coffey/Gameplan Media
Photo 2 caption: The dramatic four boats arm-wrestle lit up the women’s K2 race through the tight canals of St Francis on the final day of the South African Canoe Marathon Championships on Sunday. Photo: Sandy Coffey/Gameplan Media
Photo 3 caption: Hayley Nixon in the thick of the action during the women’s K2 race on Sunday. Photo: Sandy Coffey/Gameplan Media
Photo 4 caption: Bridgitte Hartley (right) took the women’s gold medal and Jenna Ward (left) the silver medal on day two of the South African Canoe Marathon Championships in St Francis Bay on Saturday. Photo: Sandy Coffey/Gameplan Media