Jenkins and Bouman take charge of the Hansa Powerade Fish 2010

Cradock – "King of the Fish" Len Jenkins and partner Matt Bouman blitzed the first stage of the Hansa Powerade Fish River canoe marathon, setting a new stage record and reducing the highly competitive field to a scrap for the minor placing on the podium.

The duo raced to the finish of the 36km stage from Grassridge dam to Knutsford almost two minutes clear of defending champions Hank McGregor and Grant van der Walt, with the Germans Max Hoff and Stephan Stiefenhoefer finishing with the Czech Republic stars Robert Knebel and Tomáš Slovák, tussling for third place.

"Len is just in a class of his own on this river," said an exhausted Bouman. "He has this ability to go flat-out for three hours at an absolutely flat-out pace. I just tucked in behind him, and tried my best to give him what he wanted from me. I was really just a passenger!

They were locked in a close tussle with McGregor and Van der Walt just below Keith's Flyover rapid, when they raced into a thick nest of willow trees. "We held back at that stage because we had tripped the section of the river and we knew there was a channel that ran into a dead-end," said Bouman.

McGregor and van der Walt led the front pack into the tree block and got stuck, while Jenkins and Bouman took advantage of the opportunity to make a break.

Their decisive move came at a portage around the Brak Rivier weir, a place where Jenkins has broken countless times before. The pit in a lightning fast portage and then put in a three minute buffer between themselves and the defending champions.

They didn't rest on their laurels, and worked tirelessly on their own to gradually open their lead to one minute forty five by the time they arrived at a hot and blustery overnight stop below Knutsford bridge, despite the fact that Jenkins was battling with a cold and a tight chest.

That sets up very handy lead going into the easier shorter second stage into Cradock, setting Jenkins up for seventh win in this iconic race, and Bouman within grasp of victory on his first serious attempt at the race.

Lance King and Marc Mulder looked to be showing their hand early on, and were second into Keith's Flyover, but they were gradually reeled in by the chasers, including the German, French and Czech internationals.

"We just didn't click together on the day," said Hoff. "We have not been able to train together as much as we would have liked and our strokes were too out-of-sync. We also took on water in Keith's Flyover when our splashcovers popped, and it took about forty minutes to pump it all out!"

The women's race is in the firm control of the pre-race favourites Robyn Kime and Michele Eray, who worked hard for their eight and a half minute lead over Jen Hodson and Tiffany Kruger, in a race strategy based on balancing risk and return.

They, like all of the other seeded women, opted to run around Keith's Flyover, and saved their energy for the long flats where they ground out their cavernous lead.

Brandon van der Walt and Ivan Kruger completed the first stage in eleventh overall, and ten minutes clear of the next junior boys, the Maritzburg College Under 16s Murray Haw and James Speed, while the Toti schoolgirls Jenna Ward and Kerry Seagal have nine minutes on their nearest challengers Brittany Petersen and Kerry Shuter.

The big field of over 1720 paddlers enjoyed the full river, and the challenge of the brand new two-stage Double Trouble weir that now allows them to race over Collett's Weir, shortly after the start of the race.

The 36km final into Cradock includes the the big weirs gauging weir, Marlow Chute and Cradock weir. More information can be found at


1 Len Jenkins/ Matthew Bouman (KZN) 2:43:56 (New stage record)
2 Grant van der Walt/ Hank McGregor (KZN) 2:45:40
3 Stephan Stiefenhoefer/ Max Hoff (GER) 2:49:34
4 Robert Knebl/ Tomas Slovak (CZE) 2:49:35
5 Pierre-Andre Rabie (WP)/ Andrew Birkett (KZN) (U21) 2:50:52
6 Douglas Bird/ Nicholas Burden (KZN) 2:52:33
7 Stephen Bird/ Jesse Phillips (AUS) 2:54:14
8 Gavin White/ Zaren Courtney (WP) 2:55:26
9 Mark Mulder (KZN)/ Lance King (WP) 2:55:27
10 Loic Vinysale/ Quentin Bonnetain (FRA) 2:55:58
11 Brandon van der Walt (KZN)/ Ivan Kruger (WP) (U18) 2:57:11
12 Michael Stewart/ Michael Mbanjwa (GAU) 2:57:12
13 Trenton Lamble/ Stuart Clifton (KZN) 2:58:47
14 Adrian Bam/ Rory Sandberg (WP) 2:58:49
15 Joe Kearney/ Edgar Boehm (WP) 2:58:50
16 Lance Kime/ Richard Fly 2:58:50
17 Christopher Birkett/ Shane Millward (KZN) 2:58:51
18 Paul Marais/ Alasdair Glass (WP) 2:59:07
19 Mark Essery/ Dirk van den Berg (KZN) 3:01:55
20 Andreas van Tonder & Jotham van Tonder (GAU) 3:05:14

1 Michele Eray (EP)/ Robyn Kime (WP) 3:04:43
2 Jen Hodson (GAU)/ Tiffany Kruger (KZN) 3:12:22
3 Abby Adie (KZN)/ Lindi-May Harmsen (WP) 3:14:51
4 Jenna Ward/ Kerry Segal (KZN) (U18) 3:21:26
5 Suzette & Hanree Maree (GAU) 3:23:03
6 Kelly Howe (KZN)/ Alex Adie (EC) 3:26:54
7 Brittany Petersen (KZN)/ Kerry Shuter (GAU) (U16) 3:30:30
8 Kerry Louw (/ Tracy Almiral (EC) 3:31:34
9 Tamika Haw (WP)/ Bianca Haw (KZN) (U18) 3:32:27
10 Nicky Roote/ Cathy Hustler (EC) 3:32:37