Dusi changes stance on key boat weight rule

2014-11-28 00:00

WITH the 2015 Dusi Canoe Marathon starting to attract the attention of the top paddlers in the country, the race organisers have shifted their stance on the critical rule governing the weight of kayaks.

The Dusi rules state that every K1 kayak must weigh a minimum of 12 kilograms, inclusive of all of regular accessories. The major change in the rule has come in the enforcement of this regulation, with far stricter policing in place on every stage of the race.

Now the top five men’s and women’s boats, together with the top three junior boys’ and girls’ crafts will go through a compulsory weigh-in at the end of every stage, and the traditional pre-race weigh-in procedure has been scrapped. In addition, there will be other boats weighed, selected randomly from the top 50 or 60 boats.

Dusi general manager Brett Austen Smith says the rule change was brought about to tighten loopholes in the old boat weight rules.

“There is a lot to be gained, especially on day one and day two where there are long portages for a paddler who comes up with a way of ­‘losing’ boat weight, and replacing this in time for any scrutinising at the end of each stage,” said Austen Smith.

“This year, the paddlers will be called straight off the water to a weigh-in on the banks, and there are severe penalties in place for failing to adhere to this protocol or if the boat weighs less than it is required to weigh.”

From 2015 any boat that is up to 200 grams underweight will get a two-minute penalty, if it is up to 500 grams underweight the penalty balloons to a title-race-ending five minutes, and any boat that is more than 500 grams ­underweight will result in that paddler being ­disqualified. Importantly this is a new rule that has been introduced which will make an athlete guilty of any initiative to lighten the weight of their kayak for a part of the race.

The new rule 14.3 states that “it is the paddlers’ responsibility to ensure that their boats are the correct weight during the entire event”.

The enforcement of the Dusi boat weight rule has been a contentious one, with a sector of the elite paddling community favouring ­scrapping the weight limit altogether.

Smith however says the rule has broader ­implications, in addition to ensuring fair play and adherence to all of the races rules. “We have to ensure that paddlers take part in the Dusi in craft that are safe, and, like it or not, racing in a very light kayak is a risk,” said Smith.

More information can be found at www.dusi.co.za

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