|Photo: Ray de Vries|
Facing down the valley after an early start at dawn from the Natal Canoe Club at Pietermaritzburg, three boats made a full Team Best 4 Kayak Centre leading bunch: Lance Kime/Kwanda Mhlope, Michael Mbanjwa/Sibonelo Zondi and the K1 of Andy Birkett, while Craig Turton/Jasper Mocke and Trautman brothers were left behind in a second group. The second K1, that one of the 2011 winner Mark Mulder, couldn't keep the pace of the top five.
Mbanjwa y Zondi suffered a break in their kayak that needed to repair quickly in one of the portages, but made them fall down to fourth place after a hard fight to keep it from the strong Trautman Bros. On the lead, Birkett managed to take a 45 secs. advantage at Kime /Mhlope at the entry to Inanda Dam, gap that made gorw up to three minutes at the dam wall after an amazing paddle on the flatwater. From that point it was a solo paddle down to Blue Lagoon in Durban, where he signed a dream victory stopping the clock in 8h11', 11 minutes ahead over Kime/Mhlope, first K2 and another young couple with a brilliant future.
Birkett adds in this way the Non-stop Dusi in his first appearance after winning the Unlimited Dusi for the last three years in a row. He is also the second K1 claiming an absolute victory in this competition, after Hank McGregor in 2006.
You can check the full results here.