It’s all systems go for SA’s premier canoe race

2010-01-21 00:00

THE 59th annual Hansa Powerade Dusi Canoe Marathon is ready to roll and organisers and paddlers are upbeat about the event, which starts at 6 am at Camps Drift today. The finishing line for the three-day event is at the Blue Lagoon in Durban.

Concerns about crocodiles and water quality proved to have little effect, as more than 1 000 paddlers have registered to participate in the race.

Three charity organisations, the SPCA, Starfish Greathearts Foundation and the Duzi uMngeni Conservancy Trust (Duct), have been nominated as the official beneficiaries of this year’s race.

The event will see two extreme adventure canoeists, Andrew King and Devlin Fogg, attempting to become the first competitors to complete the 120 km race carrying their kayak all the way to the finishing line.

King told The Witness yesterday that this was part of a ground- breaking initiative to raise awareness of the ecological challenges facing the Msunduzi and Mngeni rivers.

“We hope to focus attention on the challenges facing the environment along the race route, highlighting the work being done by Duct to deal with those issues.”

The aim is also to promote awareness of pollution. Communities and paddlers can use the hotline at 033 345 7571 to report any damage to the environment along the rivers, said King.

Paddler Michael Mbanjwa said he and partner Ant Stott are ready for action. “We’ve done all that is needed and we are ready to go. We are prepared for the win and that is what we will be focusing on.”

He said crocodile sightings are the least of their concerns.

He said there will be no rapids in areas where the reptiles have been spotted, which makes it unlikely that they will pose a threat.

Organisers spent last weekend doing a recce of the full Dusi course to establish what late work needs to be done on blockages by water hyacinth , which have since been cleared. The organisers appealed to paddlers to do their best to make conditions for residents of surrounding rural areas as pleasant as possible.

The Dusi website reports that SuperSport has secured broadcasting rights for 30 hours of television coverage of the event.

The police have made an appeal to all participants and spectators for co-operation. Provincial police spokesman Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said contingency plans are in place to ensure the safety of spectators, participants and their property.

“Police visibility has been increased and it is important for spectators to report any matters that appear to be suspicious to police officers,” said Mdunge.




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