Velddrif – Andy Birkett prevailed to win the 60th edition of the Berg River canoe marathon while his wife Nikki Birkett won the women’s race but in sharply contrasting fashion.
Andy Birkett grabbed a two minute lead on the second stage when McGregor made an error in a tree-block and managed to retain that advantage for the remainder of the race, despite McGregor continually trying to claw back into the contest.
After three days of racing in sublime weather and river conditions, the arrival of a cold front on Sunday, combined with a strong incoming tide made the last 60km kilometre stage brutally tough for all the paddlers.
McGregor won the stage honours, bring his total number of stage wins to three, but the tenacious Burkett was right on his wave as they raced into Velddrif, and he claimed a second Berg title to go with his 2014 victory.
“It was such a tough race. Racing against Hank and Hamish was really hard. Hank is always trying to get the better of you but what I really enjoy about these guys is that the racing is hard but always very fair,” said Birkett.
“Congratulations to Andy (Birkett). I threw everything and the kitchen sink at him and he kept coming back. I am stoked to get three stage wins but it wasn’t enough,” said a gracious McGregor.
Hamish Lovemore wrapped up the men’s podium, the 2019 champion getting just reward for his consistent form during the race.