Nine-time Garden City Commercials Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon champion Sbonelo Khwela will reunite with his 2016 Dusi Canoe Marathon partner Banetse Nkhoesa for the Dusi in a Day this Friday.
Red Bull/Euro Steel’s Khwela teamed up with Thulani Mbanjwa to finish second at the recent Dusi Canoe Marathon but has spent the time since recovering from the event as he now shifts his focus to the 100km epic from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.
“I have just been chilling as much as possible since Dusi,” Khwela said. “Unfortunately my mother has been in hospital so I have been visiting her every day but she is getting better.
“I have always taken the time off between Dusi and Non-Stop and try to avoid training sessions but Banetse and I trained on Tuesday and will train again because we had some seat problems.
“That will be all the preparation we need for the Non-Stop.”
Khwela and Nkhoesa teamed up and finished third in the 2016 Dusi but have not paddled together since. Their pedigree is clear and Nkhoesa has a strong Non-Stop Dusi record, however Khwela is confident they will use his approach to the race.
“We aren’t going to put any pressure on ourselves to win and also it’s such a long day that I never worry about my position for the day one stretch of the river.
“A lot of the time you see guys who go hard at the start and they get tired and start making mistakes which is where I start moving up the field.
“Bell Rapid is where my race starts and often by then the other guys are really tired which plays into my hands.”
As fatigue becomes a factor and navigation becomes imperative Khwela knows that his approach is going to be the best option.
“It’s important that you find that pace and rhythm early on so you avoid pushing yourself too hard.
“I always feel that the best approach is to just try and get to the finish, don’t worry about positions, just get to the end!
“Banetse and I haven’t done Non-Stop together so we will have to work out our plan but I think we’ll do it my way!” he said with a laugh.
Having taken on the unknown at the recent Dusi, Khwela is not shutting out the option of paddling around the Burma Road portage at this week’s Non-Stop Dusi.
“We will have to see how the body is feeling and how much water we have when we get there so we are not ruling out the paddle around.
“It’s going to be a judgement call when we put in below the dam wall and I would be quite happy to paddle around because it’s a really tough portage,” he mentioned.
The 2020 Non-Stop Dusi starts at 05:15am on Friday, 13 March at Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg.