With more than 1,300 entries received so far ahead of the closing date on Wednesday, entries are still pouring in and all indications are that this year’s Hansa Powerade Dusi field will be over 1,400 paddlers taking to the water on January 15 at 6am, for the start of the annual pilgrimage from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.
Recent rains are filling the dams and the river system and the water level is expected to be good. The water quality is better than at the same time last year throughout the rivers and Umgeni Water are monitoring the water on a daily basis.
The spread of water hyacinth has been a worry as the weed doubles it’s size every seven days and has been threatening to block the river in a number of areas. This would create a headache for organisers and paddlers as extra portages would be needed.
Working for Water from the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry together with the Invasive Alien Species Programme (DAEA), accompanied members of the organising committee on Thursday to identify problem areas. The teams worked furiously through the weekend to remove as much of the weed as possible.
The winners so far in this years Dusi are the three charities that the race supports. With a day still to go before the Charity Batch auction closes, over R250 000 has already been raised for SPCA, Starfish and the Duzi-Umgeni Conservancy Trust (DUCT). The Charity Auction Batch is a batch of 60 paddlers that bid to be part of an early batch start each day of the three days.
Multiple Dusi winner, Abbey Miedema is the red-hot favourite for the ladies title. The Dusi will be her last race in South Africa before she emigrates to Canada.
Paddlers will be backed up by nearly 1 000 volunteers, 40 SAPS bikers, 300 peace monitors drawn from the local communities, navy divers, almost a dozen race helicopters, 100 plus medical staff, a field hospital, and 50 000 spectators along the route.
The three-day classic starts at 6am on Thursday from the Natal Canoe Club, at Camps Drift in PMB, to Blue Lagoon in Durban.
Not only canoes will be seen at the event this week. The world-famous Gabriel Pitts Specials will be doing an air display at Camps Drift 12 midday on Wednesday at the registration. Led by aviation icon, Scully Levine the 3 Pitts special will wow the large audience expected at Camps Drift.
The Gabriel aerobatic team will be performing at each of the overnight stops as well as at the finish at Blue Lagoon on Saturday. "We are continually looking at ways to build the crowd appeal at the Dusi", said Ray de Vries, spokesman for the event.
"Scully and his team are an exhilarating act and we are thankful to new Dusi sponsors Gabriel, for adding this to our line-up."