The South African Gold Panning Association (SAGPA) celebrated its 20th anniversary this year during the SA Gold Panning Championships held from October 4th to 7th. The sport has grown from strength to strength and this year there were 567 entries by over 200 competitors in the 16 championship events.
Individual events ranged from pikkies for the under 5’s through to the Veteran’s competition for the over 60’s. There were also various team competitions as well as fun events and the highlight of the championships was surely the final event – the Champion of Champions. Participation in this contest is by invitation for those who had won gold in the past, either nationally or internationally. This year those panners who had competed in the national championships in all 20 years of its existence were also invited to join in this prestige event.
That Gold Panning requires practice and skill like any other sport was underlined by the fact that the majority of the winners in the formal categories were panners who had been competing for many years, and especially those members of the MacMac club who participate regularly during the year at club level. Special congratulations are due to Sonja Vermaak, Chairman of SAGPA. After she had been rushing around solidly for days on end to ensure the smooth running of the Championships, including rescuing a pikkie who decided to take a dive into a panning pit, she managed on the final day to not only win the “winner takes all” jokers’ event, but also the Champion of Champions crown.
The results of the formal categories, where medallists have a chance to represent South Africa at the 2018 International Gold Panning Championships in Slovakia, are as follows:
|Proficient Men||Proficient Ladies||Traditional Pan||Juniors||Veterans|
|1st||Coen Vermaak||Sendra Nsimba||Kim Elvin||Sonet Vermaak||Hanlie Kuhn|
|2nd||Surprise Mdluli||Jané Vermaak||Hester Liebenberg||Zach van der Heever||Frik Liebenberg|
|3rd||Trevor Kirsten||Nondomiso Simelane||Bronwen Crawford-Brunt||Henko de Nysschen||Andrew Mason|