Racers at the Burma Road portage during day three of the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, February 16 2019. Picture: DARREN STEWART/GALLO IMAGES
Racers at the Burma Road portage during day three of the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, February 16 2019. Picture: DARREN STEWART/GALLO IMAGES

Pietermaritzburg — Competitive crews eyeing podium places at the Dusi Canoe Marathon from February 25-27 can look forward to the biggest prize pool in SA canoeing once again and a brand new incentive that will reward an exceptional result by the winning women’s crew.

The winning male and female K2 crews will again receive the same prize of R25,000, but now the incentive that will run as a new thread through the racing will offer a R20,000 bonus based on the relative finish of the women’s race winners.

“The performance of the winning women’s K2 is always assessed as a percentage of the winning men’s K2 crew’s time,” said Dusi race committee head Shane le Breton.

“Based on results of the last 10 years, the winning women’s boat has finished at 116% of the winning men’s boat.

“The new incentive will be given to the winning women’s K2 if they finish in a time that is less than 116% of the overall winner. If it is 116% or rounded down to that percentage point it will be shared.

“If the women’s winners are 117% or more behind the overall winner, then the men’s K2 will get the incentive,” he explained. “We are excited to have women’s river paddling very well supported and highly competitive at the moment, and with the equal prize money, we feel this new race-within-a-race will draw further attention to the strength of women’s paddling at the moment,” he explained.

The thrilling showdown in 2019 between Christie Mackenzie and Tamika Haw for the Dusi women’s K1 title came down to a sprint finish at Blue Lagoon, and was undoubtedly the highlight of the 2019 edition of the race.

That finish was savoured by a huge crowd, thanks to a novel staggering of the reversed order start designed to ensure that the women’s winners arrived at the finish shortly after the first few men’s boats.

“I think this new incentive is a great step forward from a racing point of view,” said surfski world champ and respected athletes representative Hayley Nixon. “We’ve seem similar approaches adopted in surfski races over the past few years.

“What it means is that there is no room for either the male or female leading crew to back off because you may well be winning your gender fight but you don’t want to lose to the other gender.

“In the past we took for granted that the men would, by virtue of testosterone and physical capability, finish first and take the overall prize but now there is an opportunity for male and female to race each other.”

Entry details and more information can be found at www.dusi.co.za