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Wemmer Pan paddlers shine in thrilling competition

Thrilling rapids, elite competition, and a historic triumph as paddling prowess as paddlers from Wemmer Pan dam conquer the Vaal River Canoe Marathon

Paddlers from the south, who initially honed their skills at the Wemmer Pan Dam, recently engaged in the Vaal River Canoe Marathon.

Spanning two days, this event brought together elite paddlers from across the nation, navigating the challenging waters of the iconic Vaal River, generously sponsored by Africa Digital Group (ADG).

Gauteng Canoe Union media spokesperson, Jennie Dallas said while the winners this year were local Gauteng-based paddlers, Clinton Cook and Luke Salmon, young Colin Ledwaba and Peter Chissano were also present. They performed well at the Vaal River Race in a K3 (three-man kayak) with Loveday Zondi.

“This three-man kayak was the first K3 to cross the finish line, in a time of 4 hours and 27 minutes after 70km on the river, over two days from the dam wall to the Umfula Lodge in Parys.

“The competition holds the prestigious status of an official Dusi Canoe Marathon seeding race and holds a special place in South Africa’s canoeing calendar. This year’s edition proved to be one of the most tightly contested races.

“The stretch of the river below the dam wall presented challenging conditions, featuring winding rapids nestled between boulders and rocks, along with shallow rocky shelves and deeper gullies. As paddlers progressed further downstream toward Three Rivers, the water flow posed increased resistance, making it more strenuous due to weirs across the river.

“Paddlers had the option to navigate down a ramp or undertake portage by carrying their boats, walking around the weirs, and then putting back into the water below the weir wall.

“Upon reaching Parys, the real adventure of white-water excitement unfolded, marked by intricate turns amidst rocks and gullies. This posed a unique challenge, particularly for K3 boats, which are longer compared to K1 and K2 vessels,” said Dallas.

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