The canoeing fraternity is in a state of shock after it was confirmed the pilot who was killed in a light-aircraft crash near the Umkomazi River Valley in the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday was Olympic canoeist and former Dusi Canoe Marathon champion, Mark Perrow.
He was 54.
Apart from winning the Dusi, Perrow also represented South Africa at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics where he made the semi-finals of both the K1 1 000 m and K4 1 000 m events.
In a statement, Canoeing SA described Perrow, who was the only occupant in the plane, as one of the greatest paddlers this country has ever produced.
"The paddling community is devastated to learn of the passing of Mark Perrow," Canoeing SA wrote on their Facebook page.
"Part of the SA team to the Barcelona Olympics, he was able to dominate at every major SA river marathon race. Competitive but always hugely likeable. A family man and a paddling icon. Always in our hearts Hop. RIP."
Perrow won the Dusi Canoe marathon in 1992 and 1996 alongside Neil Evans and also tasted K2 success with Martin Dreyer in 2000.
Perrow's lone Dusi Canoe Marathon singles victory came in 1999.
Dreyer said Perrow had inspired a lot of people, including him, to take up the sport.
When the two met more than three decades ago, Dreyer wasn’t even paddling at the time.
“It’s very tragic news. It’s a shock. One looked to Mark as immortal, he was so full of life,” said Dreyer.
“He oozed positive energy, a larger-than-life character. So, to hear about his passing, it’s a shocker, a big one.
“We go back a long way, more than 30 years.
“When I happened to win the Dusi in 1999, he just volunteered to help me on day three out of the blue. He wasn’t racing because he had a back injury, he just decided on seconding me. After that we became friends. It’s really a huge loss for canoeing as a whole.”
Perrow is survived by his wife Belinda and two daughters.