Saturday, 18 February 2012

Andrew Birkett and Jason Graham repeat victory at Dusi 2012

Foto: Impi Concept Events
Just finished the Dusi Unlimited Canoe Marathon 2012 after the third and last stage between Inanda Dam and Blue Lagoon, in Durban, with the victory of Andrew Birkett and Jason Graham, who didn't give a chance to their rivals and took for themselves all the options by a solid paddle.

The dawn was again cludy today, and sometimes a little bit rainy at Inanda Dam, when at 6 o'clock the leaders started their competition, heading to Durban with a solo paddle ahead. Birkett/Graham set a strong pace through the dam, trying no te let McGregor/Jenkins feeling like they had a chance today in this favorable water until the dam wall portage. There was a question pending then: would they avoid Burma Hill portage to shoot down the river through the rapids? Then they would have options, but risking a swim and severe kayak damage... Finally, all the top couples opted for the portage, taking no bigger risks. Birkett/Graham were still strong on the lead, growing the gap to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, the fight for the third step of the podium was neck to neck between Kime/Mhlope and Mbanjwa/Zondi. But Kime/Mhlope sufferes the snap of their bow strap at Burma, while Mbanjwa/Zondi strated a crazy run up the hill to catch McGregor/Jenkins. Witnesses say that there was no run ever like that at Dusi and McGregor/Jenkins affirmed also to be so surprised when at the take out of the portage saw their prosecutors just 10 seconds behind. The fight for the second place was again up in the air. Birkett/Graham gap was already about 8 minutes, so there was no doubt for the first step of the podium and they arrived to Blue Lagoon finish as 2012 Dusi winners, claiming again victory for the second time in a row, third for Andy Birkett after his K1 title in 2011.

In the fight for the second place, McGregor/Jenkins made valuable their strong paddle again, leaving behind Mbanjwa/Zondi for the third place and making then wait again to have the chance of being the first black couple to get the Dusi title. 4th place for the impressive U23 Kime/Mhlope, showing the are already a tru alternative for the future to Birkett dictatorship. Fifht place was for Turton/Mocke, with a great jasper in his first Dusi, showing that strong paddlers can be in any discipline. Sixth for Shaun Rubenstein and Steve Farrell (also first Dusi for this one). No information yet about 7th and 8th postitions, that should have been for Biggs/Biggs and Cruickshanks/Stewart, but we don't have confirmation yet, but we do know that 9th have been for Mthalane/Cele and 10th for Mulder/Chaplin, completing the top ten gold medalists.

After crossing the finish line, Jason Graham confirmed that this was his last Dusi contending for victory, as hard trainings were taking him so much time off from his family, so he will be back to Dusi in K1 next year, but with other goals. On the other hand, Birkett is the youngest paddler ever to have three wins and points to be the one setting another legend like they were Pope-Ellis or Martin Dreyer.

In ladies, Robyn Kime and Abbey Ulansky made their second title in a row, third also for Kime after 2011 K1 victory. No further news yet, so we hope this afternoon we will be able to complete the chornicle and leave here the final overall results.

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