Canoeing: New pair win Dusi race

2009-11-17 00:00

THE new combination of Jason Graham and Andrew Birkett gave clear notice of their Dusi intentions on Sunday with a massive 15-minute win in the Popes Canoe­ Centre Alan Gardiner Memorial Challenge.

Racing in a low Umgeni River, the pair were in a group of four canoes most of the way to the halfway point at uMfula Store, but after that they pulled steadily away to a satisfying but lonely finish on Inanda Dam. Another fairly new combination, Craig Turton and Miles Rasmussen, took second place almost a minute ahead of the leading submasters, Mike de Villiers and Glen Hilliar who are also having their first season together. Although new to Dusi course podiums in recent years, the name Rasmussen has a long history with the race as Miles’s father Rowan took third place with Robbie­ Stewart in both the 1972 and 1973 Dusis.

Two other new combinations in the first 10 were the much fitter team of Ken Holden­ and visiting Canadian Chad Ulansky­ in fifth place, and the strong team of Graeme Pope-Ellis and Phillip van Niekerk. In another statistical quirk, Pope-Ellis recorded his first of 15 Dusi wins also in 1972 paddling with Eric Clarke. Thirty-seven years later he and Van Niekerk took sixth place overall on Sunday paddling in the sub-grand-masters’ category. Not much doubt about his title as King of the Dusi.

The women’s race was won by Abbey Miedema in a K1. Miedema is now also living in Canada but is currently visiting South Africa in preparation for the Hansa­ Powerade Dusi in January. Debbie­ Germiquet and Angela Scruby were the first women K2 home followed by the junior crew of Jenna Starr and Lindsay Davis who managed to hold off the veteran crew of Debbie Lewis and Cavill Cordes by almost two minutes. Epworth’s Hazel Little and Caitlin Millar were the only other girls boat to finish, seventh overall among the women

There was a K1 winner in the boys’ race as well where Lance Kime took the honours ahead of the rapidly rising U16 crew of Donovan Wewege and Andrew Adie. Michaelhouse’s Andrew Houston and David Pearce took the third spot after starting in the last batch and working their way through to 20th K2 overall. The much fancied crew of Blaine Beresford and Brett Wilson were relegated to fourth place by equipment problems.

Ric and Colleen Whitton, clearly making a comeback to Dusi racing, won the Masters’ category overall and were second to Deon Bruss and Hillary Pitchford in the mixed doubles class.

A number of crews, especially among the Change-a–Life development paddlers were away at the Triple Challenge, but despite this the entry equalled that for 2008 with 334 paddlers taking on the tough 28-kilometre race from Ibis Point to Inanda Dam. Although the race lived up to its reputation in terms of low water levels, the cool damp weather was much appreciated, especially on the climb over the notorious Ngumeni Hill portage.

The race came as part of an annual Dusi preparation package by organisers Stella Canoe Club and their sponsors, Popes Canoe Centre.

It was preceded on Saturday by the Popes walk, which was a conducted tour of the complex day-two section of the Hansa Powerade Dusi from Dusi Bridge to uMfula Store, which includes the confluence of the Msunduzi and Umgeni rivers.

The walk attracted around 150 paddlers and was led by Bruss. uMfula Store is recognised as the half-way point in the Dusi and the place where Ian Player and his partner Miles Brokensha spent the night on the veranda of the same store on Christmas eve 1951 during the first Dusi marathon.




1. Jason Graham and Andrew Birkett NGW-UKN 2:05,25, 2. Craig Turton and Miles Rasmussen CAN-KIN 2:17,04, 3. Glen Hilliar and Mike de Villiers (SM) KIN-NAT 2:17,59, 4. Dave McKenzie and Craig Rees NAT-UKN 2:18,02, 5. Ken Holden and Chad Ulansky (SV) UMZ-INT 2:20,42.


1. Debbie Germiquet and Angela Scruby UMZ 2:46,18, 2. Jenna Starr and Lindsay Davis (U18) NAT/EPW — TWC 3:01,50, 3. Debbie Lewis and Cavill Cordes(VET) KIN-UMZ 3:03,42.


1. Donovan Wewege and Andrew Adie (U16) MAR-KEA 2:32:12, 2. Andrew Houston and David Pearce MIC 2:40,26, 3.Blaine Berresford and Brett Willson MAR-MAR/FEZ 2:55,26.


1.Jenna Starr and Lindsay Davis NAT/EPW – TWC 3:01,50, 2. Hazel Little and Caitlin Millar EPW 3:35,46.

First veteran: Eric Hildebrandt and James Tutton KIN 2:31,14.

First master: Ric and Colleen Whitton UMZ 2:38,49.

First SGM: Graeme Pope-Ellis and Phillip van Niekerk KIN 2:20,43.

First mixed: Deon Bruss and Hillary Pitchford UMV-NAT 2:32,31

First K1: Lance Kime (U18) STC/NAT 2:24,03, women: Abbey Miedema INT 2:38,03.

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