Pietermaritzburg –Overwhelming dominance by young rising stars paddler from the Computershare Change A Life Academy at the last two Dusi seeding races has hinted at a serious threat to top ten gold medal positions at the Dusi Canoe Marathon in February.
The Change a Life Academy paddlers have been in good form early on in the Dusi season and one can see by looking at their results at the Popes Canoe Centre Alan Gardiner Memorial Ibis Point to Dip Tank race over the weekend and the important Dusi seeding race Ozzie Gladwin Canoe Marathon as evidence.
The Ozzie Gladwin is known as one of the biggest one day marathons in the country and drew numerous big name paddlers with Dusi seeding on the line and the Change a Lifer’s seemed to make the top 10 their own on the day with five of the top ten being Change a Life paddlers, in addition to Change a Life Ambassador Sbonelo Khwela (EuroSteel/Red Bull) coming second overall.
The Popes Canoe Centre Alan Gardiner Memorial Ibis Point to Dip Tank race covers a traditionally treacherous part of Day Two of the Dusi Canoe Marathon which gives the paddlers a chance to brush up on their knowledge. Change A Life Academy paddler against scoop five of the top ten places but Academy founder Martin Dreyer feels that it is important to take the results at face value.
“I don’t want to look too deeply into the results from the race in terms of Dusi because it is still really early in the guys’ preparation,” the Dusi King said. “We didn’t get too excited because the majority of the field is locals but it is good training for the team.”
The Change a Life Academy has been growing consistently in terms of performances and competition over the years and Dreyer explained that although the Ibis to Dip Tank race was great for the internal competition amongst the academy.
“The race gave the guys some motivation, I think.
“It helped them notice where they stand amongst themselves and there is some healthy competition between the guys which is great for us and it keeps the top guys on their toes with pressure coming from everyone,” Dreyer added.
With the recent dry spell the river was not flowing at the level that the paddlers would have liked to it for the race on Sunday and Dreyer understands that this is problematic but also feels however that it can be an advantage for his more inexperienced paddlers.
“I feel that to be ready for the Dusi you need to train at Dusi [water] levels and this weekend it was low but that helped out our novices and the more inexperienced paddlers come to grips with what can be a difficult section of river.
“The low levels meant that it was all taken in slow motion really and being able to gain some experience from paddling this section is great because when Dusi comes around it is frantic and you can lose track of where you are before you hit by the next rapid!” Dreyer explained.
The race on Sunday was a good hit out for the top paddlers even though they might not have got a huge amount out of it.
“It’s always a good chance for the guys to get familiar with the river again.
“People say that they have an advantage because they are from the Valley but in truth the river probably only flows just over ten times before Dusi and so racing on it is always good for them and gives them a good, hard work-out amongst themselves but also against other paddlers,” mentioned Dreyer.
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