Maritzburg Sun (South Africa)
Non-Stop Dusi hat-trick complete for Msia & Mtolo
The Gresham Wealth Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon dream duo of Thabani Msia and Msawenkosi Mtolo made it an unprecedented hat-trick of victories at the famous 'Dusi in a Day' on Friday.
With their impressive five minute win they also became the second combination to win the race on three occasions - but the first combination to do it over three consecutive years.
Despite what ended up being a comfortable win for pair, it wasn't easy going as they had boat trouble throughout the race to deal with.
“It definitely didn't go according to plan for us today,” Euro Steel's Msia said. “We had rudder trouble at Mussons which we had to stop and fix all the way today.
“The guys were four minutes ahead of us early in the race and on the Non-Stop it's hard to catch up four minutes so we had to push hard all the way.
“Luckily we were strong enough to catch them and then see how tired they were and at Tops Needle we knew we had to put the hammer down and we did.
“To come across the line in first place for a third time in a row - I don't have the words to describe the feeling,” he added.
With ideal water levels the usual suspects made their way to the front of the field however, surprisingly the race's most decorated paddler Sbonelo Khwela ditched his usual tactics to take up the pull at the front.
He and partner Banetse Nkhoesa took control of the race at the Campbell's Farm portage and laid down a significant pace for the others to try and replicate.
Khwela's MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon partner Nqobile Makhanya and his partner Sandile Mtolo were also in the tussle at the front for a large portion of the opening parts of the race.
They remained in the hunt, however the slow advancements of two-time defending champions Msia and Mtolo proved to be too hard to stave off.
Msia and Team MyLife's Mtolo overtook Makhanya and Mtolo on the tough Nqumeni Portage and set their sights on catching Khwela and Nkhoesa ahead of them.
At Mfula Store the Euro Steel pair of Khwela and Nkhoesa looked comfortable, however there was a big change between there and the headwaters of Inanda Dam.
Boat trouble all-but ended their charge as the patient Msia and Mtolo went to the front of the race where they were joined by the resurgent Makhanya and Mtolo on the dam stretch.
Across the dam and into the cool, clean water below it was still the two pairs together as they began the final stretch into Durban.
In third place was Khumbulani Nzimande and Richard Cele as Khwela and Nkhoesa continued to fall back.
It was from there that Msia and Mtolo then tried to split the two boats and they managed to do that gaining a two minute advantage by the time they got to Umzinyathi Rapid.
The run into the finish was not without incident for the two-time defending champions who fell out their boat at Pumphouse Rapid and were concerned that their title might have been lost there.
“When we had our swim we were very worried that that was the end of our race because we couldn't see our boat,” Mtolo stressed. “Luckily for us we had built up enough of a lead to get going again ahead of the guys in second.”
Finishing in second, and not without their own problems along the route, was the pair of Nqobile Makhanya and Sandile Mtolo.
The combination were in the race for the first half however after they had steering problems from Marianni Foley they too were in trouble. They put together a fighting second half of the race to come home in second place overall.
Finishing third was the pair of Team MyLife's Khumbulani Nzimande and Richard Cele while veteran Jacques Theron finished as the first K1 home and fifth overall.
The first mixed doubles pair was Jordan Peek and Cliffton Bridge who finished in ninth place overall. Written by Dave Macleod