Published: 05 May 2017
The threat of rain was not enough to keep paddlers away from the first Stanford River Festival, 7 to 9 April 2017.
The main race was the 15km President’s Trophy, and was won by Graeme Solomon, followed by Heinrich Schloms and Anthony Wostenholm in the K1 category.
Bianca Beavitt was the first woman in the K1 category, followed by Robyn Henderson and Rebecca Meihuyzen.
Liesl Jobson and Marleen Potgieter placed 1st and 2nd in the rowing category.
On Saturday, 8 April, 150 participants launched their boats, ready for the 10:00 start on what turned out to be a perfectly clear autumn day.
There were stand-up paddlers (SUPs), K1, K2, surfskis, Indians, rowboats and Guppies (Under 12) on the water, all eager to slice their way through the 5km, 10km and 15km routes. Whirling paddles and spraying water showed the racing spirit of some, while others joined in for the sheer joy of being on the water.
Paddlers reported a tough head wind on the return leg of the longer routes, but everyone seemed delighted by the ache in their muscles from paddling along one of the most beautiful rivers in the Cape.
In the 10km race, Tom King placed 1st in the SUP category.
In the 5km race, Bevan Duffet took 1st place in K1.
Cheerful shouts from the water and warm support from families and friends on the river bank made the day festive and excellent fun for everyone.
The NSRI was present to keep an eye on the paddlers and offer to backup. Spectators enjoyed a cool swim in the river as the day got hotter.
The Stanford Canoe Club Development Academy also participated in a fun 2km demo-paddle in which 8-12 year old Guppies practiced their newly acquired skills to warm support from the river bank.
The Grootbos Foundation in partnership with the Stanford Canoe Club has been training local children on Wednesday afternoons using donated canoes, paddles, lifejackets and volunteers, and the smiles on the participants’ faces showed the real value of this experience for these young locals.
The generosity of the Grootbos Foundation has made a real difference for the children in the Academy.
Sunday morning saw a small but committed group set off on a pursuit race which involved a timed start.
The fastest paddlers from Saturday set off last, determined to catch up to those who had started first.
The Stanford Canoe Club plans for the Stanford River Festival to become an annual event.