Date: 25 January 2013
Subject: Canoe carnage affects Dusi paddlers
To download high resolution images attached to this story, see bottom of this media release
A race of another kind is on ahead of The Unlimited Dusi 2013. Following huge water at the recent N3TC Drak Challenge, for many paddlers it’s now a race against the clock to replace or repair their canoeing equipment in time for South Africa’s biggest canoe marathon.
Heavy overnight rains the day before the Drak ensured the event was contested in the highest water levels since its inception in 1994. This caused organisers to restrict entries to paddlers with an A-plus rating. In fact, only 40 percent of the field made it to the finish and over the two days of the race, it is estimated that one in every three boats was damaged or lost.
This has had a dramatic impact on local canoe suppliers, especially with The Unlimited Dusi being mere weeks away, taking place from 14 to 16 February.
Owen Hemingway of Pope’s Canoe Centre in Pietermaritzburg confirms that The Unlimited Dusi paddlers are now scrambling: “We’re very busy. There have been a lot of broken boats and many people also lost their boats completely. We’re working flat out to meet the demand.”
Rick Whitton, the owner of the well-known Kayak Centre based in Hillcrest (KZN) described the situation as “carnage”.
“We have been inundated with paddlers wanting their boats fixed in time for The Unlimited Dusi,” he said. “We have had to stop taking on any new business so that we can get the boats that need repairing ready in time. I feel sorry for the guys who lost their boats and now have no canoe for The Unlimited Dusi, meaning they could miss what is regarded as the highlight of the year among the paddling community.”
Malcolm Stothard, the owner of Kayak Racing Centre in Johannesburg said he has also been very busy this week. “Most of the paddlers from Johannesburg used their old boats during the Drak and we have had a large number of customers who have brought their boats in for fixing in time for The Unlimited Dusi. They have also been replacing paddles that were lost during the race,” he explained.
The big water at The Drak took its toll on top paddlers too. Cam Schoeman, the 2008 K2 marathon world champion with Ant Stott, was one of those whose race ended early. “I took a swim quite early, near the start and that was it, game over, my boat was gone,” he said.
Luckily for Schoeman, his boat was later found. “Owen Hemingway phoned me a couple of hours after the race and said he’d seen my boat above Black Murray. It was a couple of kilometres downriver from where I fell out.”
London Olympic bronze medal winner Bridgitte Hartley wasn’t shocked by the conditions as she hadn’t had an opportunity to trip the river before the race, but she was also upended by the tough conditions.
Recalling her race, she said: “After a particularly hectic stretch, I was swimming next to my boat and got stuck under a tree. I ended up having to go under my boat and the tree to get through, so I was on the wrong side of the current, and then it was as if the water was pushing me and my boat around the corner.”
Another paddler called to Hartley to leave her boat, swim to the side and catch it again further downstream. It might have been a good idea in theory, but it didn’t work out well. By the time she made it back to the water’s edge it was too late, Hartley’s boat had disappeared.
Hartley said: “I walked about six kilometres looking for my boat. Despite finding some other canoes and lots of other equipment, I did not find mine.”
And so a race of another kind is on ahead of The Unlimited Dusi, a race to be ready in time for South Africa’s biggest canoe marathon. For those competitors who still need work done on their boats, the time to get it done is now.
The Unlimited Dusi takes place 14, 15 and 16 February from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. Entries are still open. For more information please go to www.dusi.co.za
Please click on the link to download high resolution image:
Caption: Owen Hemingway of Pope’s Canoe Centre has been inundated with requests for boat repairs after the carnage at the N3TC Drak Challenge. Paddlers are scrambling to have their boats repaired ahead of The Unlimited Dusi.
For more information kindly contact Carole Johnstone of The Unlimited
Cell: 083 229 8374
No of Images Uploaded: One
To gain access to One image/s please Like, Tweet or +1 this article:
Owen Hemingway of Pope’s Canoe Centre has been inundated with requests for boat repairs after the carnage at the N3TC Drak Challenge. Paddlers are scrambling to have their boats repaired ahead of The Unlimited Dusi.