Stalwart paddler Derek Holdsworth will be starting his 30th consecutive edition of the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon on Thursday morning, but nothing excites him more than being able to do the race with his 16 year-old daughter Gina.
“The Dusi has been such a big part of my life, and now I get to share it with her,” beamed Holdsworth. “I am so looking forward to this race.”
Holdswoth has been doing the hard yards in training with his daughter, and can reflect fondly on his first Dusi in 1988.
“I had just turned sixteen and I was very nervous!” he recalls. “Early on during the first stage I got lost in the Sewerage Farm portage for nearly an hour, but we managed to get to the end and complete the race in a reasonable time,” he recalls.
Holdsworth went on to win his first silver medal in 1994, paddling with his K2 partner Graeme Jarvie, one of five silver medals that he is very proud of.
The Natal Canoe Club veteran is one of eleven paddlers aiming to finish their thirtieth Dusi, but to have done this uninterrupted by other commitments or falling prey to the inevitable disasters that can prevent a paddler from finishing is remarkable.
In 1997, he looked to be about the record his first DNF (Did Not Finish) result after badly dislocating his shoulder at the Ernie Pearce Weir right at the start of the race. But the Maritzburg businessman was not going to let that prevent him from completing the 120km, three day outing to Durban.
“I was paddling with my partner Wayne Fyvie that year, and the afternoon before the start I really badly dislocated my shoulder trying to keep the boat upright as we took a swim at the bottom of the weir.
“With a lot of strapping and painkillers we managed to get through that Dusi, and keep my unbroken run of Dusis going,” said Holdsworth.
“I am very proud to be doing the 2017 FNB Dusi with my daughter Gina, who started canoeing three years ago at The Wykeham Collegiate. She is excited but nervous and I think we are going to have a great race,” he added.
Paddlers aiming to complete their 30th Dusi : Manie Visser, Luke Doig, Vaughan Armstrong, Hugh Cocksedge, Peter Mountford, Derek Holdsworth, Gary Waud, Alan France, Rob Kirby, Gordon Bateman, Mark Perrow
Paddlers aiming to complete their 40th Dusi : Stuart Dixon, Damon Clark, John Edmonds