New rules allow sit-on-top boats to compete in Dusi Marathon

2015-01-14 00:00

A REVISION of the rules has opened the doorway for a new type of paddler to take on this year’s Dusi Canoe Marathon, which takes place from February 19 to 21.

Kayaks, commonly known to the South African paddling fraternity as canoes, require paddlers to sit inside the boat. Canoeing South Africa’s recent rule revision will, however, now allow competitors paddling sit-on-top boats similar to surfskis to be categorised in the same class as their more traditional counterparts.

“Sit-on-tops have always been recognised by the International Canoe Federation [ICF]. However, the moment the hull is altered, in order for a self-bailer to be fitted for example, then they are no longer within ICF regulations,” said Dusi general manager and Canoeing South Africa’s (CSA) Marathon Committee chairperson Brett Austen Smith.

“Essentially, CSA recently modified its rules to allow craft with these self-bailers that either protrude from or are indented into the hull to be classed as normal K1s [single kayaks] and K2s [double kayaks] — provided they meet the ICF’s length, breadth and weight specifications.”

The move brings a new dimension to the country’s river marathon scene and, in particular, that of the Dusi.

“Theoretically, a sit-on-top should be easier and hence quicker to get in and out of, especially if one falls out in the river. From what we understand though, they are a fair bit heavier and a little tougher to steer and manoeuvre in the water than a kayak. So there are pros and cons. It will, however, be particularly interesting from a Dusi perspective as now there is no need for sit-on-top competitors to wear a splash cover, and so it will save them a lot of time and weight on the portages.”

The paddlers aren’t the only ones having to weigh up the various advantages and disadvantages of racing on a sit-on-top.

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