Durban - Andy Birkett and Sbonelo Zondi won the 2014 Dusi canoe race in emphatic fashion after another commanding display during stage three between Inanda Dam and Blue Lagoon in Durban on Saturday.
The pre-race favourites, who both endured forgettable final days 12 months ago in the K1 or singles classification, won the last stage of the doubles (K2) in a time of two hours, 13 minutes and 17 seconds for an overall time of 7:43.50.
It was a fourth win for Birkett after twice winning with Jason Graham and his individual title in 2011, but it was a maiden win for Zondi after near misses in the two previous years.
He also became only the second black paddler, after his former K2 partner Thulani Mbanjwa, to win the race.
"I was very nervous from the start because of what happened last year (when I fell out of the boat)," Zondi said.
"Even though we had a good lead today, I was still nervous, but to win is my rewards after all I've put in over the last few years."
Birkett, who came fourth last year after an error in stage two, was delighted how the pair had put behind them what happened in 2013 to win.
"If I look back it was after that disappointment that we decided to come together," he said.
"It's been a long journey and a dream finish."
Three-time world marathon champion Hank McGregor and partner Jasper Mocke came a distant second in an overall time of 7:53.59, but never really had any chance of victory after trailing by almost nine minutes two days into the 63rd edition of the three-day race.
Cam Schoeman and Czech rowing star Adam Jakub finished third with a combined time of 8:10.09.
Lance Kime and Mbanjwa completed possibly the most remarkable story of the world famous race by coming fourth (8:15.34).
Kime, last year's winner, and Mbanjwa were 17th overall at the end of day one after breaking their boat at Commercial Weir, shortly after the start.
Defending champions Robyn Kime and Abbey Ulansky won the women's race for a third consecutive time after one of the closest races in history.
Kime earned her fifth title and Ulansky, who said on day two she will retire, added a remarkable ninth crown to her name in the world famous 119,62-kilometre race.
"Coming into the final stage in the past, my victories and those of Abbey's had never been this close," Kime said.
"So today was push, push and push, but it was very exciting in the end."
Their winning time of 8:50.59 was just over a minute ahead of Ana Adamova and Abby Adie (8:52.06) with Haw sisters Tamika and Bianca (9:36.35) coming in third.
Overall men's results after the third and final stage of the Dusi canoe marathon on Saturday:
1. Andy Birkett/Sbonelo Zondi seven hours, 43 minutes and 50 seconds
2. Hank McGregor/Jasper Mocke 7:53.59
3. Cam Schoeman/Adam Jakub 8:10.09
4. Lance Kime/Thulani Mbanjwa 8:15.34
5. Kwanda Mhlophe/Zonele Nzuza 8:17.59
6. Craig Turton/Simon van Gysen 8:24.20
7. Siseko Ntondini/Piers Cruickshanks 8:26.23
8. Loveday Zondi/Thando Ngamalana 8:26.29
9. Andrew Houston/Ivan Kruger 8:29.19
10. David Wood/Kelvin Trautman 8:29.46
Overall women's results after the third and final stage of the Dusi canoe marathon on Saturday:
1. Robyn Kime/Abbey Ulansky eight hours, 50 minutes and 59 seconds
2. Ana Adamova/Abby Adie 8:52.06
3. Tamika/Bianca Haw 9:36.35
4. Hilary Bruss/Alex Adie 9:43.20
5. Jen Theron/Jane Swarbreck 9:46.12
6. Jenna Ward/Kerry Segal 10:00.03
7. Carmen Donald/Debbie Germiquet 10:06.08
8. Jordan Peek/Brittany Petersen 10:07.04
9. Susan Carter-Brown/Kelly Howe 10:18.37
10. Camilla Pennefather/Cana Peek 10:36.47