Dusi: tough new rules on kayaks’ weight

2013-12-11 00:00

THE organisers of the three-day Dusi Canoe Marathon from February 13 to 15, 2014, have put in place tough new rules aimed at clamping down on elite paddlers flouting the rules governing the minimum weight of kayaks.

With a significant amount of portaging, elite paddlers have been tempted to race in underweight kayaks and some have been suspected of flouting the weight ruling to gain an advantage when carrying their craft on the tactically important long runs.

The Dusi organising committee has published new rules for the 2014 edition of the race, clearly aimed at plugging loopholes in the kayak weight regulations.

In previous editions of the race, elite seeded paddlers had to have their craft weighed at the pre-race registration to ensure the craft complied with the minimum weight restriction for 12 kg for a single kayak and 18 kg for a double.

Underweight craft presented at the weigh-in were often fitted with supplementary metal weights to bring their kayaks up to the minimum weight, which some paddlers are suspected of removing before or during the race to make their craft lighter and easier to carry.

This year’s rule changes shift the onus to the paddlers to ensure that their kayak is the correct weight throughout the race, with officials weighing the top five kayaks in the men’s and women’s classes, plus the top three juniors’ boats and other randomly selected boats at the end of each day’s racing to ensure full compliance.

The new rules also stamp out the use of any loose weights that are needed to bring craft up to the required weight, as these can be too easily removed and added just before the daily weigh-in.

Modern kayak manufacturing technology, using lightweight materials like Kevlar and carbon, together with vacuum moulding techniques, allow for strong and rigid kayaks to be built at weights substantially lighter than the minimum weights for the Dusi.

“The Dusi is raced over three days of tough river conditions, and light boats represent a serious safety risk as they don’t stand up to battering from rocks on the river, and increase the risk of entrapment in the kayak if it gets pinned and broken against rocks,” said race committee head Brett Austen-Smith.

“Just as importantly, the race should not be decided by the crew that has the resources to buy a boat that is lighter and therefore offers a clear advantage.

“There is a huge amount of prestige attached to winning the Dusi, not to mention the substantial prize-money, so it is essential that any athlete aspiring to win this race does so without getting any unfair advantage.”

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