With welcome rains sweeping across KwaZulu-Natal the winds of change have swept through Natal Canoe Club with Steve Botha taking over as the General Manager of the club as well as taking on the role of General Manager for the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon from 15-17 February 2018.
Botha recently displayed his ability to organise an event when he took up the responsibility of putting together the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships at Camps Drift in September at the eleventh hour, an event that was celebrated by locals and internationals alike.
The three-day journey from Pietermaritzburg to Durban has become one of the most iconic events in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and Botha’s belief is that he felt that the rank and file paddlers deserve more attention, as these are the athletes that make up the majority of your numbers.
“I think that we can all agree that the Marathon World Championships was a great success and we want to carry that momentum through to the Dusi in a few months’ time and I hope that we will be seeing a lot of paddlers on the start line in February,” Botha commented.
“We are making quite a few changes to the event that fits into my idea of making the race about the paddlers.
“I’ve done over 20 Dusi’s so I think that I have a good understanding of what is expected from the rank and file paddler and I hope that I can carry those requirements over to this year’s race.”
2018 will mark the 67th running of the Dusi Canoe Marathon, a race has developed a powerful reputation over the years and Botha believes that the changes don’t have to be wholesale.
“We are going to just make a few small changes that make the experience for the paddler a better one.
“One example was that at the end of the first day this year it took me 15 minutes to get off the water because the exit was so muddy and slippery, and when I did there was nowhere for me to have a shower. So we will have those facilities available for paddlers.
“It was also incredibly hot so we want to try and make it a more pleasant experience for paddlers when they get off the water next year,” he said.
Botha’s racing experience has given him a keen insight into how the majority of the field feel in terms of the overall experience of the race. He understands the needs of the so-called ‘fish-and-chips’ paddler better than most.
“There is nothing more frustrating when you are near the back of the field and you get to the top of Campbell’s Portage and there is no more cold water.
“I can assure you that every paddler doing the FNB Dusi in 2018 will have cold water available to them. If you get there last there will cool drink and cold water for you,” he emphasised.
Botha and his organising team are going by the mantra ‘for the paddler, by the paddler’ as they prepare for the event in three months’ time.
“As a paddler I think that I have an understanding of what is required and everything that I put in for the 2018 Dusi will be for the paddlers,” Botha expressed.
He invited any paddler with thoughts or comments to contact him by email of at the Dusi office, using the details available on the Dusi website.