Thursday, 16 February 2012

Andrew Birkett and Jason Graham win on Dusi Day 1

Photo: Impi Concept Events
This morning, at 6:00 local time, started a new edition of the Dusi Unlimited Canoe Marathon at Pietermaritzburg (RSA). With a humid, hot and stormy weather, the sprint to shoot Earnie Pearce was frenzy, as usual, with favourites McGregor/Jenkins shooting in first position, followed by Birkett/Graham and Biggs Brothers. No big problems for A batch, with only one swim. That was different at the seeded women batch, with top paddlers Robyn Kime and Abbey Ulansky falling in. The Adie sisters seized the opportunity and took the lead for the first kilometres down the river, with Kime/Ulansky starting their comeback from fourth position.

Meanwhile, Men Senior race was leaded by McGregor/Jenkins, slightly in front of Birkett/Graham, Biggs/Bigss and Turton/Mocke, with Mbanjwa/Zondi in fifth with a bent rudder after the first weirs. From there, different strategies started to move the leading bunch, with McGregor/Jenkins and Biggs/Biggs taking the Pine Tree portage, but not their rivals, so the leading positions came closer and Birkett/Graham and Mbanjwa/Zondi were just a few seconds behind McGregor/Jenkins, with Biggs/Biggs falling down positions after being the only ones shooting Campbell's. Griffin/Schoeman, who were in the top five for the first part of the stage, were also slowly falling down until being out of the top ten. Those who made the inverse were Cruickshanks/Stewart, winning positions step by step and getting strong at the top paddling in a group including Kime/Mhlope, Rubenstein/Farrel and Biggs/Biggs.

Foto: Doug Bird twitter
On the way down to Mission's Rapid, the top positions suffered dramatic change, with Mbanjwa/Zondi shooting it 16 seconds ahead Birkett/Graham and more than a minute on McGregor/Jenkins.A titanic effort by Birkett/Graham made them catch the leading boat and set a pace that let them take the victory after a hard sprint, so second position of this day 1 was for Mbanjwa/Zondi, with McGregor/Jenkins, again not lucky at all in the Dusi, third 1'30" behind. Over four minutes after started to arrive the rest of contenders, with Turton/Mocke in fourth, awesome result for Jasper, excellent surfski paddler, but rookie at the Dusi in his first appearance ever. Then, the order was Kime/Mhlope (5th), Rubenstein/Farrell (6), Cruickshanks/Stewart (7), Mthalane/Cele (8), Cele/Cele (9) and, finally, brothers Biggs/Biggs (10). This will be then the start order for Day 2, tomorrow Friday.

About seeded juniors, sharing A batch with the seniors, victory was for Haw/Speed, who arrived fourteenth overall after a fantastic paddle. On the other hand, the Women's race had not that much tension when Kime/Ulansky took the lead cutting down a 4 minutes difference after their swim. Adie sisters definitely had no good day, unable to follow Kime/Ulansky pace and finishing second, but 11'13" behind the winners, who looks like a too big distance for the next two days, incidents apart.

Elite Kayak note: It's always challenging making this chronicles from 10.000 kilometres away, so sorry if there is any mistake in it, feel free to send your comments at the link under the title or email me at

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