Young paddlers keen to impress at Dusi

2013-02-13 00:00

MARITZBURG College celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, and having enjoyed a special College race at last weekend’s Midmar Mile, they are now hoping some paddlers from the school will shine at this week’s Unlimited Dusi, which starts at Camp’s Drift tomorrow.

At U18 level, College was represented last year by the “awesome foursome” of Don Wewege, James Speed, Murray Haw and Murray Starr, but they have now graduated to the U23 ranks. (Wewege was the first recognised paddler to pull out of this year’s race after injuring a knee in training).

But all is not lost for the school, as the next batch of promising young paddlers — Travis and Tyler Wilson, Bryan Le Roux, Andrew Woodgate and Damon Stamp — look set to grab some junior podium spots after setting off for Durban.

It won’t be plain sailing for the College lads, as Clifton College’s Calvin McKie and Michaelhouse’s Patrick Dillon will be keen to spoil their party. Nqobile Makhanya from Lembethe Canoe Club and the Computershare Change a Life duo of Emmanual Kirk and Mthobisi Cele are also ones to watch.

Epworth has also enjoyed a good showing from their young paddlers in the past, most noticeably Brittany Petersen, and this year they have Bianca Haw and Jordan Peek vying for honours in the girls’ U16 category.

Peek has been in consistent form over the past year, while Haw proved her endurance in the 2011 K1 race when, still an U16 paddler, she was the first U18 girl across the line, winning by a huge 12 minutes.

She and Peek paddled together last year, in the K2 race, winning the U18 girls’ title. However, this year it’s each for themselves and their tussle could be worth watching as they stake their claim as future Dusi champions in the senior ranks in years ahead.

Hot on their rudders should be Camilla Pennefather and Charlotte Lovemore.

What is encouraging, is that more and more junior paddlers are coming through the ranks every year. Where once cricket, rugby, hockey and netball were the main sports at most schools, there are now those who focus on paddling, taking on the Dusi as the platform to launch their careers on the water.

The Dusi starts tomorrow, from Camps Drift and finishes at Blue Lagoon in Durban, on Saturday.

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