Pietermaritzburg - All four pioneers who paved the way for stand up paddleboarding (SUP)'s inclusion on the Dusi Canoe Marathon’s programme in 2014 have confirmed they will be back again at this year’s race which takes place from February 19-21, this time though they’ve brought their friends.
At least nine SUP enthusiasts have confirmed their participation in this year’s three day journey from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Durban’s Blue Lagoon and with twice the entry some are expecting double the competition.
“We’re very excited to see the growth in the number of SUP entries for this year’s Dusi compared to last,” says Jon Ivins, one of the crop of four who successfully conquered last year’s maiden SUP voyage.
“From what we know at this stage, there are nine of us set to tackle this year’s Dusi and there may even be a couple more come race day!
“While some may be looking just to finish the three days in one piece – just as myself and Dean (Bottcher) did last year – I’m sure we’ll see quite a bit more competition amongst the guys – and girls – this time around due to the added number of boards on the water this year,” he adds.
Corran Addison claimed 2014’s SUP spoils and like Ivins, the USA based competitor is also looking forward to making a strong charge for this year’s crown.
This time Addison won’t be alone when he makes his way over to South Africa though, instead 2015 sees him bring two of his fellow US based paddlers with him and the pair hope their strong SUP background will make up for their complete lack of Dusi experience.
“We also have two complete novice ladies – Zanie Cawood and Dominique De Beer – joining our group this year,” explains Ivins.
“Neither come from a canoeing background and only recently started stand up paddleboarding but Brendon (Germaine) has spent quite a bit of time on the water with them, they have passed their proficiency, qualified through the pre-Dusi races and are now really looking forward to trying to finish this year’s race.”
For Ivins himself, 2015’s Pietermaritzburg to Durban adventure will be one of a slightly different nature to last year’s maiden hit-out.
“Last year I used a 14 foot, 15 kilogram board but this year Corran has kindly sponsored me one of his 17 foot, 12 kilogram boards.
“The less weight will obviously be a tremendous help on the portages while the extra length will be a great help on the flatter stretches of water.
“The other interesting element of my new board is that it’s an inflatable board.
“It’s made of rafting material and then is rock hard when pumped up. It may flex a little going down Ernie Pearce Weir and the likes but otherwise its completely rigid.
“It’s definitely not a lilo!” he chuckles. “It will just be a little more forgiving than fiberglass should I hit a rock and fall onto the board!”
While still having many of the same challenges as their canoeing colleagues, tackling the Dusi on a SUP does present competitors with a slightly different experience as well.
“Surprisingly the speed we could portage our boards was very similar to that of a portaging a canoe and in the rapids we probably even have a slight advantage over canoeists because we can see the lines slightly better being higher up and we can just hop back on without having to get to the side and empty should we fall off.
“Our biggest challenge though is when we’re on flat water and there is a head wind!
“With us standing up we basically become a sail and so paddling into the wind really is tough. Hopefully my new board will help reduce this slightly but if the wind gets up over Inanda Dam and coming into Blue Lagoon then it could be a long few kilometers for us!”
The 64th edition of the Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Blue Lagoon in Durban from Thursday 19 to Saturday 21 February 2015. More information can be found at www.dusi.co.za