26 February 2014
Lance and Robyn Kime, the 2013 men’s and women’s Dusi K1 (singles) champions, will be among the leading challengers for the men’s and women’s titles when the Non- Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon departs Pietermaritzburg for Durban early on Friday morning.
For Lance, the extremely tough one-day, 120 kilometre race, will be about trying to reverse the ill fortune that scuppered his chances of victory in the Dusi early this month, while Robyn will be aiming to win the event for a second time in a K1.
Emulating last year’s winners
Lance Kime will be aiming to emulate last year’s winners, Sbonelo Zondi and Andy Birkett. The pair finished third and fourth respectively after incidents ended their title hopes, but then teamed up to set a Non-Stop record, followed by victory in the 2014 Dusi.
Kime led the K2 finishers in the Non-Stop Dusi in 2012 with Kwanda Mhlope, and will again team up with his Dusi partner, Thulani Mbanjwa, who has four Non-Stop titles to his name.
The pair were among the favourites for this year’s Dusi, but a freak accident mere kilometres from the start put paid to their chances of victory; their boat was sliced open by another’s rudder and after repairs they were left in 17th place after the first day. They went, with an astonishing effort, to finish fourth.
‘A goal for us’
“Non-Stop Dusi had always been a goal for us and so we’ve been planning for it since we started paddling together a few months ago,” Kime said in a startement on Tuesday.
“Non-Stop is obviously a little more important now, though, after our disappointing Dusi, and so we’re definitely looking to go for the win on Friday. Dusi didn’t quite go our way, and that’s how it goes sometimes, but we’ve got a little bit of unfinished business to attend to at Non-Stop,” he added.
The organisers have arranged for water releases from the Henley, Nagel and Inanda Dams, which is something that excites Kime.
“If I remember correctly in 2012 it was really low by the time we got to just above Inanda Dam, so the water releases sound fantastic,” he said enthusiastically.
Kime and Mbanjwa will face a stiff challenge from paddlers from the Computershare Change a Life Academy, which is under the mentorship of seven-time Dusi and six- time Non-Stop Dusi champion, Martin Dreyer.
During this year’s Dusi, former Academy member Sbonelo Zondi teamed with Andy Birkett for the win, while current Academy members Kwanda Mhlope and Zonele Nzuza came home in fifth place.
“Sbonelo winning was the completing of a dream for me,” Dreyer admitted.
Looking ahead, he continued: “Kwanda and Mmeli will be an exciting pair to watch at Non-Stop. Thomas (Ngidi) and Shongweni’s Banesti (Nkhoesa) are still unproven, having never really raced together before, but I’m sure they’ll be gunning for the podium.”
With Andy Birkett have ruled himself out of the Non-Stop Dusi because of a foot problem, Sbonelo Zondi has committed to paddling the race in a K1 kayak.
He is a three-time winner of the Non-Stop, including with Thulani Mbanjwa, but will be aiming for a first ever victory in a K1.
Kime’s sister, Robyn, who won her fifth Dusi title with Abbey Ulansky, was set to leave on the adventure of a lifetime shortly after the iconic three-day paddling adventure, which would have seen her spending much of the next 12 months sailing to and hiking and mountain climbing around South America. Last-minute changes, though, ended her adventure travel ideas temporarily and so she signed up for the Non-Stop Dusi.
Once again, her main challenger will be Abby Adie, who claimed the honours in the Non-Stop with Hilary Bruss in 2013. Adie was also second in the Dusi with Czech star Anna Adamova.
This time around she will be teaming up with her sister Alex. “I’m really excited to be paddling Non-Stop with Alex,” she said. “Anna decided Non-Stop would impact on her sprint season preparations too much and so I was really excited when Alex said she was coming back (to Durban from Cape Town where she works) for Non-Stop.
“Alex also worked really hard on her own in Cape Town before this year’s Dusi and has really improved a lot since we last paddled together in the 2012 Dusi. We haven’t paddled Non-Stop together ever before, so I’m really looking forward to getting into a boat with her again,” she added.