Dusi to be raced in February

2010-08-28 00:00

NEXT year’s Dusi Canoe Marathon will take place in February. The event has been held in the third week of January in recent years, but due to concerns over water levels in surrounding dams, the popular canoe race will now take place on February 17, 18 and 19.

The race relies on the releasing of water from two dams into the Dusi to ensure that the water levels of the river are high enough for participants to paddle the Dusi route.

On the opening day of the race, water is released from Henley Dam just outside Pietermaritzburg for the start of the race. On the third and final day of the event, water is released from Inanda Dam.

Dusi Canoe Marathon Spokesperson Ray de Vries explained the reasons behind the date change.

“Umgeni Water asked us to move the date,” he said.

“There is a concern that we are going to have a dry summer and that having the race in January might be too early in the rain season.

“By February we should have had enough rain.”

De Vries added that the change in date will not change the nature of the race.

“There won’t be too much difference at all,” he said.

“We are expecting a bigger field as this is the 60th anniversary of the race and it will also be held in honour of the late Graeme Pope-Ellis.”

The issue of water levels has been a recurring concern in recent Dusi Canoe Marathons.

“For the last few years the rain pattern has been very unusual,” said De Vries.

“We have had a low level a few times, but we’ve always seemed to be lucky and get water late.”

De Vries highlighted how important water levels are for the race to be a success.

“The Dusi is a very expensive event to put on and the water prediction is the most important thing,” he said.

“If a paddler in Johannesburg knows that he will be doing more running than paddling then he might not come down, so it really is crucial.”

Professor Roland Schulze, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Bioresources Engineering and Environmental Hydrology Department, says that the decision to move the race to February is one that makes sense.

“By February the dams will be fuller and we will have a more sustained bass-flow,” he said.

“The bass-flow will provide a mini-flood that will be better for paddling as well as cleaning out bacteria in the water.”

Schulze added that although rainfall has been unpredictable in recent years, this should not be linked to climate change or global warming.

“It is too soon. At this stage we must steer clear of attributing things to climate change; the run-off is always a month or so behind the rainfall.”

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