Participants in next month's FedGroup Berg & Bush mountain bike stage race can look forward to a spectacular new drop off the Drakensberg escarpment, organisers have announced. Known as the Drakensberg Drop, the new section will take riders on a long and scenic descent via ancient cattle paths from the Free State border into KwaZulu-Natal. Race organiser Gary Green said his route building teams had been working hard to prepare the changes in time for the event, which rolls out from the new Border Post start venue at the top of Oliviershoek Pass on October 10. "The Drop makes a far better descent off the mountain as it winds its way down through the hills and valleys and along a river bank, where the riders can really enjoy the amazing scenery." Day one alone would now feature over 2 200m of descending with 1 500m of climbing, said Green. He said participants in the two three-day options – the Descent and Great Trek – could anticipate further changes on day two, with the traditional boat crossing of Spioenkop Dam abandoned in favour of uninterrupted riding. "We now approach Spioenkop Mountain from another direction, using the old Fairview road, which was the original wagon track between Ladysmith and Bergville." Coming down off the gruelling Spioenkop ascent, he said riders would also encounter a new section of berms and jumps, named the Bell Run in honour of section sponsor Bell Equipment. "The Bell Run has also been included on the original two-day event, so our more social riders won't be left out of the fun." Green said many additional sections of fast-flowing single-track were being included, as his team continued to uncover well-trodden cattle and game paths. "At the moment, we have three teams of four people who go out every day to ensure that the route is race ready. But most of the additional route preparation is done by the local people living in those areas." One of last year's signature sections, the enclosed JoJo tank . . .
The NMMU Madibaz opened their Varsity Netball account with a convincing 45-16 win over the University of Cape Town in the Mother City on Sunday. The victory put the team from Port Elizabeth into third position (based on goal difference) in the standings after the opening weekend of the six-week tournament. The Madibaz have their heart set on retaining their top-four spot after reaching the semi-finals in last year's inaugural competition. Madibaz coach Dumisani Chauke said she was very happy with her team's overall performance. "It was an awesome start to our campaign and a great win for the girls," said Chauke. "They played very hard." The former Proteas player said her squad had been disappointed however at falling short of the 50 points required to get the bonus point. "That was our goal and unfortunately we didn't manage that. But we're still in the building phase and we're only going to get better as time goes on." Chauke said her team had identified a few key areas that required attention and would be working on those aspects ahead of the upcoming matches. Although her side had taken the game to the opposition from the outset, Chauke said their offensive play still needed some work. "At some points we would play a centre pass for up to two minutes. I just think we need smoother attacking movements, going forward and taking the ball through to the circle." She praised goal attack Bavu Matyumza for the vital role she had played in their shooting circle. "She played very well and only missed about two shots in the whole game." After leading 22-9 at half-time, the visitors gave their hosts no quarter – conceding only seven points and chalking up another 23 goals in the second half. Chauke said the Madibaz's defence, which featured current national star Zanele Vimbela, had been outstanding throughout. "Our defence turned so many balls and Zanele played a critical role in that." The goalkeeper was awarded the FNB Player . . .
The Port Elizabeth based Algoa Bay Yacht Club held their annual opening of the sailing season sailpast on Sunday 14 September 2014. Hobie Beach swimmers and Shark Rock Pier strollers were presented with the pleasant sight of gaily decorated ocean going yachts, speedy sport boats and dinghies taking the salute from the President and Commodore of the ABYC just off of Shark Rock Pier at 1:00 pm. The Windguru had predicted a warm, overcast day with a light East - perfect weather for a sailpast and even more perfect for a first time sail out of the Port of Port Elizabeth onto the big ocean by young dinghy sailors who had never done so before. As Sunday drew closer more and more youngsters put their hands up eager to sail on the big ocean. On Sunday morning at 10h00 the ABYC carpark in the Port was already filling up and dinghy sails were visible. Shepherded by three support boats manned by ABYC members, Ronnie Baer, John Tudehope, Gordon van Zyl and their eager crews the dinghy fleet began to leave the Port of Port Elizabeth at 11h00 - destination Shark Rock Pier and a couple of hours of fun coupled with a huge sense of achievement with the bonus of adequate heroic stories for the coming school week. Gaily decorated yachts began leaving the moorings - Harry Lamprecht's, Lady, must come in for special mention as she was expertly decorated with flags, flags and more flags. The Algoa Bay Yacht Club were celebrating the start of what will be an awesome sailing season with two major high profile international events - the 505 World Championships and the Vasco Da Gamma Race - coming to Port Elizabeth in 2015. The 505 World Championships will bring an estimated 250 sailors to Port Elizabeth for two weeks. Close to 200 of those will be international sailors experiencing the warmth and hospitality of Nelson Mandela Bay and her citizens for the first time. The Vasco da Gamma race marks, for the next 3 years, the return of South Africa's oldest ocean race to Port . . .
More than 400 Gauteng mountain bikers pushed their endurance to the limit as they took on the Pretoria Boys High School 24-Hour Mountain Bike Challenge last weekend. The fourth edition of the popular event, which is presented by Barden Tyres, took place on a testing 6km circuit across the school grounds. According to organiser Wynand de Villiers of ASG Events, the aim of the race was for riders to complete as many laps as possible within the allotted timespan. Participants could ride solo, or enter in teams of between two and eight in the relay competition. The individual men's competition was won by Alberton's Dylan Rijnberg, who completed 68 laps (408km). Reigning women's champion Nicky Booyens, who lives in Pretoria, notched up 57 laps (342km) to retain her title. Rijnberg said he was very happy to have won after finishing third on a single-speed last year. "I decided to come back on a bicycle with gears and win it. It was a personal goal of mine." Unlike other mountain bike races, he said setting a manageable pace was one of the hardest parts of this event but also critical to success. "You're used to racing fast, so you actually just have to tell yourself to slow down. "I knew the hardest work would be on the climb, so I'd put it in the easiest gear and go up at a normal pace. Then I'd slowly build my speed back up on the flats." A veteran of five 24-hour races, Rijnberg said his strategy had been to concentrate on finding the smoothest and most efficient line along the track. "If you focus too much on your time or count every lap, it'll just mess up your head." He said he maintained his energy levels by consuming energy drinks and race food every hour. "Your legs are actually quite strong but it's your back, hands, shoulders, neck and heart you've got to look after. "That being said, I think your head's got to be stronger than your body for these types of races." The 27-year-old said he had opted to do a full . . .
A strong tidal push, deep water channels as well as shallow sandbanks all had to be negotiated in the Keurbooms River the past weekend during the 5K Pulse Swim in Plettenberg Bay. Race organiser Kyle Harris got the incoming tide spot on and swimmers took to the 16 – 17 C water at Poortjies Beach, near the mouth of the Keurbooms River, aided by the strong tidal pulse and literally saw them flying upstream. Navigation became critical during the Pulse, as the shallow sandbanks were waiting, similar to sand traps on a golf course, for the unwary swimmers. Finding the channels and sticking in the fast flowing water saw veteran Eastern Cape swimmer PJ Duffy take victory in the inaugural Pulse swim in 56:33. It’s been a great year for Duffy who won the Shipwreck Swim in Cape Town earlier in 2014; as well complete the Robben Island Crossing. “It was a great swim and it fun swimming with the strong currents,” said Duffy after the event. Duffy, who was one of the representatives of the WWW Club, the crew who wear traditional Safari Suits to open water swims, said they will all be back next year. The first woman home was the formidable open water swimmer from Port Elizabeth, Rebecca Newman. Fresh off her victory at the 7.5K JBay Cold Water Classic, Newman stuck with Duffy the entire swim, to finish in 56:50. Jeffreys Bay swimmer JC Van Wyk finished 3rd in 57:08. South Africa’s two open water butterfly swimmers, Brenton Williams and Kyle Harris also completed the swim, flying the whole distance in 1:22:13 “Kyle knows the Keurbooms River really well, so I was able to swim off him and enjoy the visual spectacle of swimming up the river towards Stanley Island and the Outenique Mountains,” said Williams, who rates having being able to sight as one of the main advantages of swimming butterfly in open water. The conditions got the better of 8 year old Jesse Goodal, who decided to watch the swim from the comfort of her dad’s paddle craft said it was . . .
The SPAR Madibaz will have their eyes fixed on a playoff spot when they kick off their second Varsity Netball campaign against UCT in Cape Town on Sunday. The Port Elizabeth side made it through to the semi-finals of last year's inaugural tournament before being eliminated by eventual runners-up the University of the Free State (Kovsies). Madibaz netball manager Theresa le Roux said her new-look squad featured just seven of the 18 players from last season but that the youngsters were determined to reach the top four once more. "We have a good mixture of youth and experience." The side will be captained by second-year education student Arne Rust, who alternates between the wing attack and centre positions. "Our goalkeeper Zanele Vimbela is also on top form after representing South Africa at the Commonwealth Games, so I'd say she's going to play a major role in the team," said Le Roux. She said their first fixture would set the tone for the competition, which features the top eight netballing institutions in the country. New coach and former Protea forward Dumisani Chauke will use her extensive playing experience to steer her alma mater through the round-robin portion of the five-week tournament. "UCT is never an easy game, especially in front of their home crowd, but it's a game that we can and must win," said Le Roux. She said the SPAR Madibaz would host their first home games from September 20 to 22 when they will be playing the in-form Tuks, Maties and newcomers Vaal University of Technology. "Spectators can look forward to high quality netball as all the national players who are still students will play in this series." Le Roux said Tuks in particular would be "loaded with national stars". "I'm confident that we can win against VUT. Maties and Tuks will be tough to beat but I would never underestimate our girls." The Madibaz impressed at the University Sport South Africa tournament in July where they placed fifth to secure . . .
Defending champion Pierre Smith demonstrated a convincing return to form when he made it two in a row at the Pennypinchers Silverstar Mountain Bike Challenge near Krugersdorp on Saturday. Smith, who missed the greater part of the season due to a torn thigh muscle, proved he was back on song when he outsprinted Guylin van den Berg to retain the 40km title in 1:39:54. Van den Berg finished two seconds back, with Julius Cobbett a further minute and a half down in 1:41:31. Smith, who rides in the colours of Team Jeep SA, said the victory had been an important one for him. "I was out of racing for three or four months after I got injured. So this is the first time I've peaked this season and the form appears to be coming along nicely." The 22-year-old said he had decided to go hard from the start in pursuit of his title defence in the West Rand race. "The field was a lot stronger than last year and I had some tough competition. I hammered it a bit and only Guylin was able to stay with me." The two set a steady pace over the ensuing kilometres, working together in windy conditions. After 30km they looked back to see Cobbett gaining on them in third. "So we put the hammer down again in the closing kilometres and rode away." Smith said his route knowledge had ultimately made the difference on the day. "I knew where I could go hard, especially in the last five kilometres where there are two or three small climbs. The last bit of dirt is also a single-track section." The Potchefstroom resident said coming out of that technical section first had given him the edge as he and Van den Berg hit the tar and descended towards the finish at the casino resort. Nevertheless, he said, the win had still been a happy surprise. "I'm definitely more of a climber than a sprinter, so it was actually a shock for me to take the sprint." Anneke Hanekom turned in another dominating performance in the women's race after winning the Bestmed Lost City . . .
The Bestmed Campus2Campus Super Classic has introduced a change of venue and route for the 10th edition of the cycle race, which takes place in the North-West Province on Sunday, September 28. The event, which is presented annually by North-West University, moves to the Potchefstroom campus after starting at the Vanderbijlpark campus and the Ventersdorp military base in recent years. Race director Wynand de Villiers of ASG Events said the new 107km route, which heads in the direction of Parys, would provide a fresh challenge for regular participants. "It's a rolling out-and-back course and it's possible for riders to stick in their bunch if they dose their efforts properly on the inclines. The road surface is amazing, so the going will be quick. "There will be some exciting racing in the last 30km, as there's a good possibility of a tailwind and a fast finish." Last year, Bonitas rider Herman Fouché beat out some of the country's top sprinters to claim his second straight victory at the event. De Villiers said the new venue and route had already sparked considerable interest and the organisers were readying themselves for a field in excess of 1 500. He said many former cycling stars would be riding the event in memory of Springbok cyclist Ertjies Bezuidenhout, who passed away two years ago. The triple Argus champion and Rapport Tour winner was an NWU alumnus and patron of the event, which was the brainchild of his friend and former university spokesman Mauritz Meyer. "We will once again observe a moment's silence for Ertjies at the start," said De Villiers. With all three campuses working together to present the anniversary edition of the event, he said the national classic would provide "a true campus experience for road riders". "The students are involved in all aspects – from manning water points to marshalling and handing out medals at the finish." He said the student Rag committee had adopted the event and would be providing . . .
Mecer Madibaz midfielder Chad Cairncross received his first call-up to the South African men's hockey side following the interprovincial tournament in Durban last week. Cairncross, who has been a fixture in the NMMU first team for the past two years, said he was delighted to have been included in the national squad alongside Madibaz teammate Natius Malgraff. "It's been a lifelong goal of mine to play hockey at the highest level, so for me this is a really big deal." The Eastern Province player is no stranger to international competition, having been included in the SA student team for the World University Games in Kazan, Russia, in June last year. Cairncross was also selected for the national team that took part in the Junior World Cup in New Delhi, India, in December. Earlier this year, the second-year psychology student joined his future teammates for the national training camps ahead of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia and the (senior) World Cup in the Netherlands. "The training camps gave me a good idea of what is expected of me and the standard of hockey that I should be playing. It helped me realise my strengths and the areas I need to work on." Prior to the interprovincial tournament, Cairncross was once again approached by the national selectors. "I was told that if I wanted to make it, I needed to work on a few things and I think my performance at IPT was proof that I had improved since the last camp." There he demonstrated his speed and acceleration, as well as his skills in the short corner attack. "My personal highlight has to be the goal I scored against Western Province." Born and raised in Port Elizabeth, Cairncross said the sporting bug had bitten when he played his first mini hockey festival at age six. Now 20 years old, his ambition is to become a permanent fixture in the SA team ahead of the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games. Although no matches had been confirmed as yet, Cairncross said another training camp . . .
The NMMU Madibaz made a dramatic exit from the Varsity Football tournament when they suffered a 4-0 loss at the hands of Tuks in Pretoria on Monday night. Head coach Graeme Harrison said his team had put up a brave fight but that it had not been good enough to secure their place in the semifinals. "It was very disappointing but we tried our best and I'm proud of the boys." Harrison said his team had been under pressure from the get-go with Tuks opening the scoring in the 11th minute. "We were always going to be under the pump after conceding two early goals. And being 3-0 down at halftime was certainly going to be an uphill battle for us." He said his team had been forced to go on the attack in an attempt to even the score but, despite a few good opportunities, things had not gone their way. In the other deciding fixture, Kovsies' 1-1 draw against Pukke helped to push the Madibaz out of the top four into fifth position on the log. "We were going for the win because we didn't want to depend on other results to get us through," said Harrison. He said it was frustrating that their nemeses Tuks were once again the source of the Madibaz's demise after losing to the Pretoria side in last year's final. "We knew that if we could just have gotten a draw we could have moved on and left them behind. But that was obviously not to be." Harrison said inconsistency throughout the seven-week competition was what ultimately cost them their shot at the title. "It's been a bit of a yo-yo season for us – things would be on the up and then all of a sudden we'd slip. So that's something for us to work on rectifying." The Madibaz rallied in the latter part of the tournament, securing solid victories over Kovsies and the University of Limpopo in the last two games. Despite their setback, Harrison said it was by no means the end of the road for the Madibaz. "We'll be back. It's a relatively young team and we're still in the rebuilding . . .