The Dusi race features epic downwind crossings like the Molokai and “circular” races like BOP. Both great events no doubt… But this is different!
The Dusi is a 120km race over three days that goes from Pietermaritzburg to Durban in kwazulu South Africa on the Umzimdusi and Umgeni rivers. It’s about 30% flat water paddling (in oppressive 100F weather with 100% humidity), 30% class 2-3 whitewater and 30% running over mountains with your board (kayak) on your shoulder.
If You’re an experienced sup paddler with minimal whitewater experience, it’s still doable. All the main whitewater sections have options to portage over the mountain or paddle the section. It varies on the route taken and the winner each year is not necessarily one or the other. This means an experienced racer who ocean sups would have a chance against seasoned river paddlers (as long as he’s a runner too).
There are three of us doing the event. Myself, and local paddlers Dean Bottcher and Brendon Germain. Dean and Brendon are experienced Dusi kayakers but have minimal sup experience outside sup surfing. Dean has some whitewater sup experience (he is in the iAfrica film). But they know the river and the race well, and the tactics to use.
I have the most sup experience, and while I know the day3 section of the river fairly well, the first two days I have not done before. I’ll run them prior to the race to get an idea but the subtleties of the lines and tactics I will not know. It makes for a level playing field.
We have special 510cm boards made from a new material called AeroliteX which uses Innegra fiber. It’s like Kevlar on steroids. This will stop the boards getting smashed to pieces in the rapids, while the boards themselves are fast and tippy for the arduous flat water sections of the race. Special harnesses are needed too for the long tough portages. -Corran
This video shows you the challenges and grueling conditions of this race… Now imagine it with a sup:
Corran shows us his new board design specially made for the Dusi Race
I would like tell you a little bit about a new board that I just lined up and I’m calling it the Dusi. Now a Dusi is a kayak race in South Africa which is about 120 kilometers over three days of sheer pain. It’s about one-third whitewater class 2 and 3 plus whitewater, one-third flat-water with some terrible headwinds in the oppressive heat about one-third running literally over the top of these mountains are think probably something like five or six hundred meters over the top and on the other side totally in altitude.
It’s a very very tough race that’s on the bucket list everybody lives down there
and I’m gonna go down there do this race I stand up paddleboard and I’ve developed a special board.
So I want to show you through this board little bit over here and walk you around the board a little bit and show you some of the features.
First of all with this board, as you can see, it’s very long. It’s 16’10” which is the regulation length for the canoes and kayaks to do in the race, and you see if you look at the nose profile on this thing then it goes down very deep, the nose swoops down so that when it’s on the water in the sidewinds there is almost nothing for the winds to touch up in the nose of the boat.
But then there are all kinds of reserve volumes in the center so that when it does submerge in the whitewater when I do go into the rapids and I do get waves over the bow I have this reserve volume in the center the board that will pull it up and get out of the way.
That nose is also a swept nose so if I do hit any rocks it makes it so it will just wrap up over the rocks rather than you know being something this is gonna hit and break.
The thing is made out of Innegra which is by AERIALITE X which is kinda like a Kevlar except that it doesn’t absorb water and that’s pretty important if you do get a in your board or you do manage to bust a hole through the the material Kevlar tends to suck water and it frays as well when you try to fix it, so this Innegra doesn’t do that which is what we made it out here.
Here you can see I have a hatch…This hatch here is so I can carry a UV repair kit with me so it’s an epoxy that’s UV activated that I can fix a board with, I will also have a carry strap for the portages over the mountains and some little goodies such as energy bars and things like that I have over there.
You can see I have lot of handles on the board, the idea here is that when you portaging you are going to want to grab the board very quickly with this handle in the center, but then i’ve got these “oh shit” handles on the side and these here basically on the side of the board is if I get into rapids over my head.
There are some rapids there that are a solid class 3 plus and this is a 17 foot long 27 inch wide board that is very stable and what this allow me to do is lie down very quickly into the central standing area that you see and grab handles on each side to stabilize myself so that I don’t get knocked off the board when I’m going through the harder rapids and that’s going to be pretty important.
This long recessed area where you stand is about one-quarter inch above the waterline so it’s very very low and I have these perch holes here that allow the water to drain.
You can see the central line running through the board it goes up in this cleat in the center yet on this line the idea is that it goes to the fin on the back.
The idea is that the fin sits down in the water like this and when you hit rocks
it moves up out of the way like that so that I can go to rapids and hit the rocks and it flips up and flips down which actually works with kelp and other stuff.
But this line in the center allows me to pull up and pull the fin completely out of the water as you can see so when I get into whitewater what I’m gonna do is lift the fin out of the water
completely which allow me to flow down rapids at an angle if I need to go down at an angle of 45 degrees.
Also it mean that I can’t turn the board very fast. With this fin in the water this board goes very straight it’s very quick but it is kinda hard to turn.
So have that cleat in from me when I’m standing I just bend over a grab the string and pull up on it and the fin comes out on the water like this, I can maneuver the board very very well I can turn easily, I mean I can turn the thing almost on a dime in the whitewater and then release it again and off I go.
You can see I have lots of volume in the back on board as well so when I am going in some rapids and the tail gets submerged it won’t stand up vertically on the nose the
board it tends to just squat down and the push forward and out, kind of the same technology their using on whitewater creek boats.
Overall this is the new Dusi race board which is almost seventeen feet long from Corran Paddleboards and with this board here I’m hoping to be able to go to the
Dusi race in South Africa and it is hot I mean it’s gonna be a over 90 degrees and a humidity of close to 100.
It’s going to be painful, it’s gonna be agonizing really something! I have a couple friends down there a paddleboard as well and it’s gonna be interesting to see who gives up first.