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Birkett with Fenn and Solms with Behn claim Dusi titles

The final stage saw competitors paddle from Inanda Dam to Blue Lagoon. 

ANDY Birkett with Matthew Fenn and Abby Solms with Jessica Behn did exactly what was expected on Saturday as they wrapped up their 2024 Dusi Canoe Marathon titles.

The final stage on Day 3 of the iconic race saw competitors paddle from Inanda Dam to Blue Lagoon.

For Birkett, it was his 14th victory and takes him to within one win of the remarkable record of 15 titles that ‘Dusi King’ Graeme Pope-Ellis achieved in the 1970s and 80s.

Msawenkosi Mtolo and Sbonelo Khwela ended up 6 minutes 14 seconds behind in second position in the men’s race, while Bongani Ntinga and Sandile Mtolo finished third.

In the women’s race, Solms claimed her fourth victory which puts her up as one of the most successful women’s Dusi paddlers in the history of the race.

Women’s winners Abby Solms (front) and Jessica Behn are delighted to win the women’s race at the 2024 Dusi Canoe Marathon. Photo: Graham Daniel (Gameplan Media)

Her K2 crewmate was Jessica Behn, a matriculant at Epworth School in Pietermaritzburg.

“I think each of my wins is pretty special in its own way, but Jess’ and my partnership was such a late decision,” said Solms as she contemplated the victory. “We only decided mid-December – so two months ago, we would not have thought this could happen. For it to come together so quickly is unbelievable.

“I am so proud of Jess to probably be the youngest-ever winner of the Dusi.

“Jess’ partner had to pull out, and I had not committed to another partner, so it was a nice opportunity for me to get back in a boat and to be able to pass on some of my experience,” added Solms.

Bridgitte Hartley and Hilary Bruss claimed second while Jenna Nisbet and Nix Birkett rounded out the podium 11 minutes farther back to secure third place.

 

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