The big field of paddlers entered for the 69th edition of the Dusi Canoe Marathon that starts on Thursday could well be in for the best river conditions in more than a decade, if the predicted rainfall happens on time.
Currently the weather forecast is for cool and dry weather for the first stage of the race on Thursday, which will be ideal for the paddlers, particularly on the two long portages that are a key part of the 42km first leg of the race. They will be guaranteed medium river levels for that stage thanks to the water released from Henley Dam outside Pietermaritzburg.
The rain is forecast to start late on Thursday afternoon and continue on Friday and into Saturday. Friday's river levels will be excellent, thanks to extra water from Nagle dam supplementing the water from Henley dam, and any additional run-off from the overnight rains.
"While weather forecasts are not wholly reliable, conditions look set to provide the best Dusi paddling conditions in more than a decade," said Dusi organising committee head Shane le Breton.
Le Breton added that the regular summer storms had helped the recovery of the river system from the oil spill in August, and that the heavy inflows into the Msindusi and Mngeni Rivers from the surrounding tributaries had helped restore the natural ecology of the river systems.