Three flawless days from Abby Solms in the toughest conditions in over a decade saw her march convincingly to the women’s title at the 2017 FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon finishing at Blue Lagoon on Saturday.

Solm’s performance was unrivalled as she led the ladies race from the first portage on the opening day to the finish at the mouth to the Indian Ocean. It was a sublime way for the 27 year-old to wrap up her first FNB Dusi title.

“I think I feel more relief than anything at the moment!” Solms mentioned with a smile. “It was such a tough race, we had all the elements against us throughout, but I came into the race wanting to win and I managed to achieve exactly what I wanted!”

With 120km to navigate from start to finish the margins for error become smaller and smaller as the race progresses and despite a slight mishap on the second stage of the race Solms believes she was as close to her best as she could get.

“You are never going to have a flawless race but I was happy that I managed to put three really good days of paddling.

“I have put so much into this so it is satisfying to get a good result,” a chuffed Solms added.

Young under-18 star Christie Mackenzie has found herself wedged amongst South African women’s paddling royalty, the Euro Steel-sponsored paddler’s impressive performance over the three stages earning her second place with more than a 20-minute advantage over Olympian Bridgitte Hartley.

Hartley went into the final day in second and might have had the edge over the dam with her flat-water prowess, however when the paddlers were on their feet it was Mackenzie who came into her own.

“I’m very, very happy with my result! I am still just trying to get my breath back from that stretch into the finish,” said Hartley, “But still over the moon with a podium finish.

“I was so happy with how I went today considering my performance yesterday. I nearly felt like giving up on the dam but I am happy I pushed through today in such tough conditions!”

Hundreds of paddlers set off from Camps Drift on Thursday not entirely sure of what the three days of paddling would have in store with uncertain water levels and difficult environmental issues to consider, however as is Dusi tradition paddlers embraced the experience positively at the finish on Saturday.

“It’s fantastic to see the unbelievable turnout of the competing paddlers and spectators enjoy the incredible experience of taking part in this competition. We congratulate all the participants especially the winners who showed impressive resilience all the way to the finish line,” says Howard Arrand, KZN Provincial Head of FNB Business.

Behind Mackenzie in the girls under 18 increment was Tracey Oellermann and Gemma Lawson, with Caitlin Mackenzie the impressive winner of the Under 16 girls crown over the three days.

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Summary of Results of the 2017 FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon, on Saturday, 18 February, 2017:
1. Abby Solms 10:16:03
2. Christie Mackenzie (U18) 11:05:50
3. Bridgitte Hartley 11:26:41
4. Alex Adie 11:57:43
5. Kerry Segal (U23) 12:14:37
6. Caitlin Mackenzie (U16) 13:06:19
7. Kate Swarbreck 13:19:36
8. Debra Lewis 13:21:13
9. Cara Waud (U16) 13:29:54
10. Ronel Stevens 13:56:01

Under 23:
1. Kerry Segal 12:14:37
2. Holly Spencer 16:20:50
3. Julia Trodd 17:56:31

Under 18:
1. Christie Mackenzie 11:05:50
2. Tracey Oellermann 14:44:21
3. Gemma Lawson 17:09:29

Under 16:
1. Caitlin Mackenzie 13:06:19
2. Cara Waud 13:29:54


Photo 1 caption: Abby Solms was far too strong for the other ladies on what was one of the most challenging final stages in the recent history of the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon on Saturday. Photo: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

Photo 2 caption: Euro Steel’s Christie Mackenzie paddled beyond her years to second place in the ladies race on what was one of the most challenging final stages in the recent history on Saturday. Photo: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

Photo 3 caption: It was an incredibly tough day for Euro Steel’s Bridgitte Hartley but the Olympian soldiered on to finish in third overall. Photo: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

Photo 4 caption: Despite the fast early pace set by Bridgitte Hartley out of Camps Drift on Day 1, Euro Steel’s Abby Solms was able to get ahead of the other ladies and claim the stage spoils on Thursday. Photo: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

Photo 5 caption: The drought conditions caused low water and plenty of portages, which helped Solms who was better on her legs than Hartley. Photo: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media


With editing by gsport