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Surprise pairing for Dusi Canoe Marathon

Dusi Canoe Marathon partners, Khumbulani Nzimande and Andy Birkett at Nahoon Beach on the weekend.

The canoeing fraternity was abuzz last week after the surprise announcement that nine times Dusi Canoe Marathon Champion, Andy Birkett will be partnering with Khumbulani Nzimande in the K2 edition of the race in late February next year.

Birkett’s regular partner, Hank McGregor, unfortunately withdrew his name from contention due to the shingles virus which has afflicted him since the World Marathon Championships last month.

From Natal and fourth-place finisher at this year’s Dusi, Nzimande’s opportunity to partner with Birkett was heeded by the duo’s mutual coach, Andrew Booyens. His arrival in East London saw him getting straight into action as the pairing lined up for what was Nzimande’s first-ever surfski race on Friday evening, the EL Summer Series. Leading the race while coming into the last stretch from Nahoon Reef and a new hand at surfski paddling himself, Birkett eased off on engaging the first swell in precaution to an eventuality of the pair being dumped by the wave and having the boat snapped. With surfski paddling in their veins, brothers Jordy and Matt Fenn seized the opportunity to win the race at the final hurdle.

While in East London, Nzimande will be staying with the Birkett family and their days ahead will be filled with rigorous training programs.

In Perth, Australia, The eldest Fenn brother, Josh, has been competing in the Sunset Surfski Series. Over the last week, he competed in five races and was crowned the overall Under 19 Champion.


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