Following a nine-year hiatus from the Dusi, race royalty Linda Atwell will be back for her eleventh crack at the three-day event from 16-18 February.
Atwell is the daughter of Dusi icon and long-time supporter Ernie and Sheila Pearce, so the race runs through her blood and the bug has returned and bitten the 71-year-old who returns to the historic race in 2023.
After her tenth Dusi in 2013, Atwell moved away from canoeing but there was always that urge in the back of her mind to get back in a boat.
“Every now and again I had this thought that I would never be able to use my green number!” Atwell said.
“Friends of mine came for dinner and we got talking about the Dusi and what lines we would take going down certain rapids.
“This got my juices flowing and then I got a text from Richard Morris three weeks later asking if I would join him in doing the Dusi in 2023.
“It didn’t take me long to commit and now we are training for my eleventh Dusi!”
Never one to shy away from a challenge, paddling the Dusi and rivers in KwaZulu-Natal is part of her life.
“I am an adventurous spirit and the whole idea of the Dusi has always appealed to me, even though I only did my first one at 50.
“My journey to the Dusi was a tricky one with my dad saying that the race wasn’t a place for women, which made me angry! But when we could race in a mixed double in 1981 I knew my time to race had come.
“I had just set out to finish one Dusi and that turned into ten!”
Atwell and long-time partner Jane Bain developed a strong relationship and she paddled nine of her ten with women, while she paddled one race with Owen Hemmingway.
Training out of Shongweni Dam, Atwell will race in the colours of KwaZulu-Natal Canoe Club when she starts at Camps Drift on Thursday, 16 February.
Entries for the 2023 event are available via the event website – www.dusi.co.za – with Early Bird entry fees valid until 25 December 2022