2017 FNB Dusi Canoe
Swart up for another tough FNB Dusi challenge
Pietermaritzburg - Former Springbok and Sharks backline star Justin Swart
has relished a challenge throughout his sporting career, and is itching to
start his first FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon with his own green permanent Dusi
number on his kayak after finishing his tenth Dusi last year.
“I am absolutely hooked on it!” enthused Swart, who called it quits on his
rugby career in 2003 and then transitioned to paddling.
“I was looking for a sport that was non-impact and that would be fun my
whole family to be involved with,” said the 44 year-old head of FirstRand’s
commercial property finance division in KwaZulu-Natal. He recalls that he
almost didn’t get past the first hurdle.
“My wife and I got into a boat at Blue Lagoon and we had fallen out before
we got under the bridge. It put it mildly it was not a great start.
“Luckily Mark Lewin was there and saw the disaster and took us under his
wing and arranged the right boat and some good advice that got me started,”
He persevered to the point of qualifying for his first Dusi, where he
realised that this was a sport he could take part in for life.
“I was put in a celeb batch with the guys who had done 25 or more Dusis. I
clearly remember one double crew. The dad must have been 70 odd and his son
in his forties. The dad had arthritis and had to have the paddles strapped
to his hands. The son helped carry the boat on the portages. And they were
loving every minute of it.
“That’s when I realised that this was something that I could too, one day,
share with my two boys,” he said.
He has already shown off his 11 year old son at the Short Course races at
the popular FNB Surfski Series on Friday night on Durban Bay, and the
father-and-son duo have an Ozzie Gladwin under their belt as well.
Novices tend to seek out boats with the prized Dusi Rat Green number
stickers on to follow, assuming that the paddlers’ wisdom and experience
will show them well-schooled lines down the rocky rapids. Swart just grins.
“They can follow me if they want. No guarantees though!” he says.
Amongst his ten Dusi medals have been some tough outings. Only once has he
not finished, after a disaster at Hippo Rapid in the middle of the second
stage that left him with a wrapped canoe. “Just the wrong spot at the wrong
time,” he muses.
Last year he was confronted with another disaster when he folded his kayak
at Tops Needle, shortly after the start of the final stage. But in true Dusi
tradition he knuckled down, portaged over Burma Road, and went on to finish
his tenth Dusi, and with it he earned his permanent green number.
Swart is thrilled to be racing in a race that is backed by the company he
“It is so cool that we share such important values,” he says. “In my
personal capacity the Dusi resonates with me strongly, and to have our
company see those same values, and to try and add as much value as possible
to the event, is exciting.
“It is a work-in-progress,” he added. “Last year was our first time, and
this year we want to look at more ways to add value to the event.
For Swart the event allows him to continually set, and re-set his goals as
he grows older.
“Five Dusis was the first major goal, and then my permanent number at ten.
Now I can aim at 15 or 20, and then one day do the race with my sons. That
would be really something,” says Swart.
information can be found at www.dusi.co.za
Click to download the hi-res
FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon logo (Landscape) - GIF
FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon logo
(Portrait) - GIF
Former Springbok and Sharks
flyer Justin Swart is relishing the opportunity to tackle his 11th FNB
Dusi Canoe Marathon starting on Thursday, 16
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