Back to old format

2017-02-01 06:02
Following a sedate start, Sbonelo Khwela produced a sublime display of paddling to claim his fifth title at the 2016 Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon in March last year. PHOTO: file

Following a sedate start, Sbonelo Khwela produced a sublime display of paddling to claim his fifth title at the 2016 Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon in March last year. PHOTO: file

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THE traditional hosts of the annual Non-Stop Dusi (NSD) canoeing ultra-marathon have decided to revert to the event’s original, informal structure for the 2017 race.

The race was slated to be held on Friday, March 3, but responding to a variety of issues relevant to the race, Natal Canoe Club have decided to revert to the original format.

The NSD involves racing the entire course of the three-day race in one day — unsupported by the race with the paddlers relying solely on their seconds for assistance during the day — which allows far longer portages than its three-day parent.

When it was founded in the 1980s, it was an informal event, arranged by like-minded paddlers telephonically when it was clear that the rivers would be fullest.

In recent years, the event was formalised and raced on a set date, materially altering its character as it often relied solely on water available from Henley Dam.

With the region still in the grips of drought, and with limits on the water that can be expected from Henley Dam, NCC have agreed to let the event revert to its original ad-hoc status, and to allow keen paddlers to co-ordinate among themselves on social media and via the race website when it seems that rains will leave the uMngeni and uMsundusi rivers full enough to make the NSD viable.

“The current format of the race appeals to a very small sector of the canoeing community, and the present-day formal structure of the event is not feasible in today’s environment.” said NCC general manager Brett Austen Smith.

“We afforded the race the back-up and support similar to that provided for the FNB Dusi, but the costs including helicopters, infrastructure and prize money were unrealistic.

“It makes sense to allow paddlers who are keen to take on this challenge — and it remains a substantial challenge in canoeing terms — for the Non-Stop to revert to the way it was done in its formative years,” said Austen Smith.

“The Non-Stop has not been cancelled. We are just looking at allowing it to return to its old informal structure, with no entry fees and no prize money for now.

“Unless there is a substantial change, the race will take place as slated on March 3. This will be clarified via social media and the press,” he said.

“All the results will be recognised in the cumulative records of all the Non-Stop results,” he added.

Austen Smith said that they were still looking for a title sponsor, which would allow them to return to hosting it as a formal event in the future.

— Gameplan Media.

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