Zondi, Birkett in Non-Stop Dusi record

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11 March 2013

Andy Birkett and Sbonelo Zondi cruised to a comprehensive victory in The Unlimited Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon raced between Pietermaritzburg and Durban on Friday, improving the overall K2 race record by a massive 17 minutes.

Having suffered disappointing mishaps in their primary focus of the year, The Unlimited Dusi, two weeks ago, which saw them finish third and fourth respectively, Zondi (Team Kayak Racing) and Birkett (Team Best 4 Kayak Centre) came into the 110km “Dusi in a day” event with just one goal and that was to walk away victorious. Mission accomplished.

‘Fantastic’

“It’s fantastic to have won. Sbonelo and I combined really well and worked hard together throughout the day,” said Birkett.

“I don’t think it was until late in the day that I thought we might have a chance of getting the record, but never did I ever think we’d beat it by as much as 17 minutes.

“All my tears from Dusi are gone,” added an ecstatic Zondi. “I’m very happy right now. It’s an amazing position to be in and this is one for my future!

The pair tussled with the likes of Thulani Mbanjwa and Zonele Nzuza, Richard and Nhlanhla Cele, Loveday Zondi and Siseko Ntondini and Gavin Shuter and Carl Folscher from the minute the starting gun went off. However, a decisive break on the Yellow Rock portage a third of the way through the day saw them fade off into the distance and remain well clear of their nearest rivals for the rest of the race.

‘We sat back initially’

“We sat back initially because the guys were quite aggressive and were making silly mistakes, so it was much better once things spread out a bit, and once we opened up a bit of a gap we just looked to go at our own pace and it was a matter of trying to keep it going all the way to the finish, which we managed to do,” said Birkett.

Having occupied second place for much of the first half of the day, an unfortunate mishap at Hippo Rapid saw Mbanjwa and Nzuza break their flange, a major part of the steering mechanism, which they were able to repair only some way down the road at the Inanda Dam Wall portage.

This opened the doorway for the Gauteng-based pair of Loveday Zondi and Siseko Ntondini to move up from third place and also helped them find a new gear as they aimed for Blue Lagoon in Durban.

‘I couldn’t believe it’

“We’d been going at quite a steady pace up until Tops Needle, but when our seconds told us we were in second place I couldn’t believe it. We just pushed as hard as we could and it all paid off,” said Zondi.

“This is my biggest result ever and I’m very happy with our race today,” added Ntondini.

Mbanjwa and Nzuza suffered further heartache as they watched Shuter (Team Best 4 Kayak Centre) and Folscher (Popes Matelec) cruise past them into third place, a position they held all the way to the finish, leaving Mbanjwa and Nzuza to finish fourth and the Cele brothers fifth.

A monumental effort from Marc Germiquet saw him claim the honours as the first K1 across the line, in sixth position overall, after a ding-dong battle with Mark Mulder, before Mulder broke just below Island Rapid.

Doubles

One of the many hot talking points of the day was the incredible mixed doubles’ and ladies doubles’ results as husband and wife combination Jen and Jacques Theron claimed a remarkable seventh place finish, while ladies winners’ Abby Adie and Hilary Pitchford held off a spirited effort from their male competitors to claim eighth.

Adie and Pitchford also added their names to the record book as they obliterated the ladies K2 record by 28 minutes.

“To finish in the top 10 overall and break the record is just amazing,” said Pitchford. “We had a really great race, with a couple of swims around Hippo, but Abs (Adie) was so strong and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner out there today.

“It was my first Non-Stop Dusi and I had a really great time out there. It was really tough and I definitely took strain at times, but it was great!” reckoned Adie.

RESULTS

Overall

    1. Andy Birkett/Sbonelo Zondi 7:30.01
    2. Loveday Zondi/Siseko Ntondini 8:06.31
    3. Gavin Shuter/Carl Folscher 8:11.01
    4. Thulani Mbanjwa/Zonele Nzuza 8:19.06
    5. Richard Cele/Nhlanhla Cele 8:26.31
    6. Marc Germiquet 8:38.17
    7. Jacques Theron/Jen Theron 8:43.02
    8. Abby Adie/Hilary Pitchford 8:52.04
    9. Greg Carter-Brown/Kyle Dohne 8:54.29
    10. Shaun Dias/Luke Chalupsky 8:55.41

Women

    1. Abby Adie/Hilary Pitchford 8:52.04

Mixed Doubles

    1. Jacques Theron/Jen Theron 8:43.02Jakub Adam/Anna Adamova 8:55.48
    2. Kelvin Trautman/Sabrina Chesterman 9:11.33

Singles

    1. Marc Germiquet 8:38.17
    2. Craig Rees 9:25.31
    3. Mark Mulder

SAinfo reporter

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