River will be full

2013-03-06 00:00

CANOEISTS gearing up for The Unlimited Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon on Friday can take heart from the announcement that a full water release from Henley Dam outside Pietermaritzburg will provide water for the first half of the race, while motorists and local residents have been cautioned that low-level bridges will be impassable for two days around the race.

The water release from Henley Dam will begin at 6 am on Thursday and continue until 6 am on the day of the race (Friday), allowing enough time for the water in the Msunduzi River to reach the confluence with the Umgeni River for the paddlers to race on.

Steady rain is forecast for the day before the race, Thursday, which may well contribute to fuller rivers in the regions.

The race committee has warned local residents that the low-level bridge at Woodhouse Road will be submerged during this time and advised road users to plan to use alternate routes over the river.

Paddlers preparing for the event have been encouraged by the consistently spilling dams on the Umgeni River system, with Midmar, Albert Falls, Nagle and Inanda dams spilling steadily over the past month.

With no major rainfall forecast for the week of the race, the paddlers can look forward to water on the Umgeni, with Nagle spilling at around 12 cubic metres per second (cumecs) and Inanda Dam spilling at around 25 cumecs.

The traditionally tough race is often run on low water in the Umgeni River basin and in very hot late-summer conditions, making the 110 km endurance event particularly demanding in the second half of the race when the crews have to make a 2.30 pm cut-off at the Inanda Dam wall.

The Dusi last month enjoyed spectacular river conditions, with the second day sporting very full river conditions as water poured from Nagle Dam, and the final stage into Blue Lagoon in Durban enjoying over 35 cumecs of overflow water as well.

Despite the offer of paddleable water in the Msunduzi and Umgeni rivers, the flexible race rules allow the crews to bypass numerous sections of river by taking long portages. Not only do these routes over the hills save time and distance, but they also minimise the risk associated with shooting the more dangerous rapids.

More info can be found at www.nonstopdusi.co.za

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