Umpetha Challenge kick-starting 2022 Dusi seeding quest

Followers of the 2022 MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon will get a first look at some of the top elite K2 crews when the Clanfin Umpetha Challenge offers a key chance to gain a strong seeding as well as get themselves early points in the exciting MyLife Dusi Series this weekend.

Sunday’s showdown from Camps Drift to the Bishopstowe Hall will give all the paddlers the opportunity to refresh their memories of the first hour of the race as well as test their portaging on a tough run that mirrors the Dusi’s infamous Campbell’s Farm portage.

The entries are continuing to flood in for the race on Sunday with a number of the top Dusi contenders committed to being on the start-line, given this will be the first real opportunity this season to race in Dusi conditions.

Former men’s K2 champion and perennial podium finisher Sbonelo Khwela has put his entry in and he hasn’t got a K2 partner yet for the race but that will in all likelihood change before the race in two days’ time.

Another former winner in both a K1 and a K2 is Hank McGregor and the 2018 Dusi champion will team up with friend Lee Furby for the race while his wife Pippa McGregor is also entered and she will race in a K2 with Bridgitte Hartley this weekend.

The field is set to include a number of the Dusi’s top finishers from 2021 which will be a good indication of likely pairings for the main showdown in February as the combinations feel each other out in the early stages of the season.

Defending K2 champion Khumbulani Nzimande is teaming up with Stew Little for the Umpetha, putting up their hands as a crew that could well be a very dangerous Dusi combination while the evergreen Thulani Mbanjwa will be racing with Msawenkosi Mtolo in Team MyLife colours.

The junior pair of Jack Shooter and Joshua Simpkins have also thrown their names into the mix and could ruffle a few feathers on Sunday as they build up to fight it out for the under 18 prize at the Dusi in three months’ time.

This weekend’s race will give the elite paddlers the first glimpse at their competition going into the season and with a busy season of build-up races before the Dusi they will be hoping to fire a strong early warning shot to the competition.