Commemorative Canvas Dusi sets off on Friday

One of the pre-MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon staples, the famous Canvas Dusi, will see nine paddlers set off from Alexandra Park on Friday for a three day excursion down the Dusi route paddling replicas of the canvas boats used in the first Dusis.

The first Canvas Dusi was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Dusi Canoe Marathon in 2001 and 2021 will be the eighteenth edition of the commemorative paddle where paddlers are responsible for making their own boats in the same way that Dr Ian Player did when he pioneered the Msundusi and Mngeni Rivers.

A stalwart of the Canvas Dusi and someone who is returning to do the Dusi in a month’s time is Hug Raw, who recently turned 80. He will be taking part in his eleventh Canvas Dusi this year and his tenth MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon in March.

“I did my first Canvas Dusi in 2009 and it’s been such a brilliant time for all the people that come together for the event every year,” Raw said.

“This year we have nine of us taking part and I know that the lockdown has been tough on people when it comes to building their own boats but we are looking forward to it because we should have some really good water.

“It’s a fantastic trip and we have a lot of fun paddling down the river at our own pace enjoying the company and the scenery on our way down through the Valley.”

Time is never seen as a priority during the Canvas Dusi and it’s important to look after your homemade craft, something that Raw is going to have to be particularly careful about this year.

“I have been very lazy,” he quipped. “I haven’t built a boat since 2015 and I am going to be using that same boat this year.

“This will probably be its last because it’s definitely got a few leaks in it! Dr Player wouldn’t be happy with me – I’ve put a foot pump in it!” he said with a smile.

The event commemorates the first explorers of the Dusi route and Raw wants to pay tribute to Dr Player.

“I knew Dr Player very well and I always want to honour him when I take part in the Canvas Dusi,” he added.

The first day of the Canvas Dusi usually takes the paddlers to Geoff’s Road, however with the water Raw believes they could get to Mission Rapid on day one. They then paddle to Mfula Store on day two and then to Inanda Dam on the third day.