KZN paddlers prepare for final Dusi Canoe Marathon qualifiers

2009-01-02 00:00

FIRST up this weekend is the Bushman’s double-header in Estcourt today — a two-for-the-price-of-one event from Bushman’s Kayak Club.

The 16 km B Class river race starts at 9 am from Wagendrift Dam and finishes at Lambert Park.

The course includes about eight kilometres on the dam followed by a portage around the wall and an eight-kilometre river paddle down to the park. The paddle takes in the “Old” Weir, Black Rock Rapid and the Red Banks Rapids.

There was a race scheduled on this course last year that had to be held on the dam only because of low water levels. At present, however, the dam is overflowing and there is plenty of water for the race.

After a break in Lambert Park, the afternoon race starts at 2 pm from just below Big Weir in the park. This is the annual Estcourt-to- Weenen road race, consisting of about 25 km of A Class river with plenty of rapids and excitement. The start will be time-trial-style, with paddlers starting individually at 15-second intervals from 2 pm.

Paddlers may enter one or both races for a single race fee. Bank entries close at 8.30 am for the morning race and 1 pm for the afternoon event. Helmets are compulsory for the afternoon race.

Tomorrow, Kingfisher Canoe Club’s Billy the Bums/Gateway Toyota Inanda Dam to Durban race has suffered the same fate as last month’s day two of the House of Paint 50-Miler.

With the overall storage situation of the three main dams on the Umgeni system relatively low, Umgeni Water is unable to grant a release from Inanda Dam. Sad for the race, but more so for the river, which has seen no natural flow since the dam stopped spilling at the end of summer last year.

The race will move to Blue Lagoon instead. The start is at 7.30 am from Kingfisher Club House and with the high tide set for 8.24 am, this should mean a full lagoon for the whole event.

The course will be a three-lap, two-portage affair over 18 km. For those paddlers relying on it as either their final qualifier or as the final seeding race for the Hansa Powerade Dusi, the good news is that it will retain that status, despite the move.

These are the last KZN races before the Hansa Powerade Dusi from January 15 to 17, with Sunday, January 11, being Dusi open day for paddlers to trip the farm section of the race from Low Level Bridge to Guinea Fowl portage.

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