Khwela racks up fourth Umpetha Challenge title

Khwela racks up fourth Umpetha Challenge titleumpetha-logo

 It was a fourth win in a row for Euro Steel/Red Bull's Sbonelo Khwela at the 2016 Umpetha Challenge from Camps Drift to Bishopstowe Hall on Sunday. Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

It was a fourth win in a row for Euro Steel/Red Bull’s Sbonelo Khwela at the 2016 Umpetha Challenge from Camps Drift to Bishopstowe Hall on Sunday. Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

Bishopstowe – As the 2017 FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon fever gradually begins to take hold of the KwaZulu-Natal paddling community, Sbonelo Khwela powered his way to a fourth consecutive win at the Umpetha Challenge as Bridgitte Hartley announced her arrival on the Dusi scene with a win in the ladies race on Sunday 30 October.

Although the concept is foreign to her, sprint canoeing ace Bridgitte Hartley was happy with her portaging which helped her to a win in the ladies race at the 2016 Umpetha Challenge from Camps Drift to Bishopstowe Hall on Sunday. Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

Although the concept is foreign to her, sprint canoeing ace Bridgitte Hartley was happy with her portaging which helped her to a win in the ladies race at the 2016 Umpetha Challenge from Camps Drift to Bishopstowe Hall on Sunday. Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

The race, which is the first front row seeding race of the 2017 Dusi, is organised by the Natal Canoe Club Development team and supported by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sport and Recreation, finished with the familiar sight of Euro Steel/Red Bull’s Khwela striding to victory at the hill-top finish at the Bishopstowe Hall.

The race was not without its drama as early race leader Siseko Ntondini took a swim at the Commercial Road Weir which handed the advantage back to the pre-race favourites. After third placed Euro Steel star Banetse Nkhoesa swam at Taxi Rapid the door opened for Computershare Change a Life Academy veteran Lucas Mthalane to take third position behind Khwela in first and Build it/William Hunt’s Thulani Mbanjwa in second.

The ladies race was dominated by Hartley who was impressive in her adaption to the conditions and although, she admits, the ladies field might have been watered down slightly she was encouraged by how she negotiated her way through the 18km race. With a number of years of flat-water marathon experience to her name the concept of portaging is slightly foreign to Hartley.

Having the boat on my shoulder was different and the legs started burning a little bit more but I managed well and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be!” she added surprisingly.

 

The young Christie Mackenzie was not awe-struck by taking on South African paddling’s golden girl and she

In what was one of the of the performances of the day, young Christie Mackenzie finished second in the ladies race at the 2016 Umpetha Challenge from Camps Drift to Bishopstowe Hall on Sunday. Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

In what was one of the of the performances of the day, young Christie Mackenzie finished second in the ladies race at the 2016 Umpetha Challenge from Camps Drift to Bishopstowe Hall on Sunday. Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

produced a performance that has put her name on the ladies paddling map.
Today was really good for me and finishing behind Bridgitte is great, she is one of my paddling role models so I am incredibly happy and it is great to be on the podium with her!” exclaimed an ecstatic Mackenzie.

Mackenzie’s Under 18 colleague and Euro Steel/Mocké Paddling’s Kyeta Purchase rounded out the ladies podium when she came home in third place. The Junior Boys title was won by Mphilo Zondi who managed to hold off the charging Stewart Little who took second place with Craig Heenan rounding out the junior’s podium.

More information can be found at www.umpethachallenge.co.za

The paddlers make their way to the first obstacle after the start at Camps Drift at the 2016 Umpetha Challenge from Camps Drift to Bishopstowe Hall on Sunday. Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

The paddlers make their way to the first obstacle after the start at Camps Drift at the 2016 Umpetha Challenge from Camps Drift to Bishopstowe Hall on Sunday. Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media