Favourites Andy Birkett and Hank McGregor and the Peek sisters Jordan and Cana took the men’s and women’s stage one honours at Thursday’s first stage of the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon but in sharply contrasting races. On a medium-level uMsindusi River under cool and overcast skies, the drama in the men’s race started at the second major obstacle of the day, the FNB Weir, where the Houston brothers Alan and Andrew paddled into the bushes on the left, which cost them valuable time. For the elite field it quickly became a case of trying to catch Euro Steel’s Birkett and McGregor as they led from start to finish and never really looked in trouble. "I wouldn’t have minded if we were 30 seconds behind to be honest," Birkett said. "To have just under a two minute lead going into the second day is great for us. "The plan was to try and stay out of the trouble at the start and to set our own pace and if guys ran off the front we would just let them go. It was a bit of a shock that we were the f...

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