Johannesburg – The organisers of the three day Dusi Canoe Marathon have put in place tough new rules aimed at clamping down on elite paddlers flaunting the rules governing the minimum weight of kayaks.
With a significant amount of portaging, elite paddlers have been tempted to race in under-weight kayaks and some have been suspected of flouting the weight ruling to gain an advantage when carrying their craft on the tactically important long runs.
The Dusi organising committee has published new rules for the 2014 edition of the famous race clearly aimed at plugging loopholes in the kayak weight regulations.
In previous editions of the race, elite seeded paddlers had to have their craft weighed at the pre-race registration to ensure the craft complied with the minimum weight restriction for 12 kilograms for a single kayak and 18 kilograms for a double.
Underweight craft presented at the weigh-in were often fitted with supplementary metal weights to bring their kayaks up to the minimum weight, which some paddlers are suspected of removing before or during the race to make their craft lighter and easier to carry.
This year's rule changes shift the onus to the paddlers to ensuring that their kayak is the correct weight throughout the race, with officials weighing the top five kayaks in the men's and women's classes, plus the top three juniors boats and other randomly selected boats at the end of each days racing to ensure full compliance.
The new rules also stamp out the use of any loose weights that are needed to bring craft up to the required weight, as these can be too easily removed and added just before the daily weigh-in.
Modern kayak manufacturing technology, using lightweight materials like Kevlar and Carbon, together with vacuum moulding techniques, allow for strong and rigid kayaks to be built at weights substantially lighter than the minimum weights for the Dusi.
The race ruling however is based in making the race as safe and as fair as possible, allowing all paddlers to compete on a level playing field.
With the 2014 Dusi being a K2 championship year, the enforcement of this new rule will be critical, as there is more opportunity for paddlers to exploit weigh savings in a K2 than in a K1 kayak.
The Dusi Canoe Marathon 2014 starts in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday February 13 and ends in Durban on Saturday February 15, 2014. – Sapa