South African radio’s most famous redhead, Sias du Plessis, will hit the water as he tackles his third Dusi Canoe Marathon this month.
The 5FM sports presenter will work up a thirst during the event, where he is paddling in the colours of one of South Africa’s favourite beers, Hansa Pilsener.
The beer with the kiss of the Saaz hop has been sponsoring canoeing for more than two decades. “We originally chose it because we felt the sport was aligned to our brand positioning of being refreshingly different,” said Hansa Pilsener Marketing Manager Refilwe Maluleke. “Twenty years later, it is still relevant to the brand. Hansa has grown to be the brand that celebrates dreamers, the men who believe they can accomplish their goals and do. Completing an event such as the Dusi or the Fish River Canoe Marathon is the culmination of months of hard work and self-belief, and we are proud to be a part of this journey.”
The event will see Du Plessis and his partner, Deon Bruss, complete about 40km of paddling for each of the three days, starting on February 13 in Camps Drift, Pietermaritzburg, and travelling through the Valley of 1000 Hills and Inanda Dam, finishing at Blue Lagoon in Du Plessis’ hometown of Durban.
“Being a Durban boy, I have followed this incredible race since I can remember. As a youngster I would watch the legends of Dusi – Graeme Pope-Ellis and his peers – finishing at Blue Lagoon and always knew that one day I would get a Dusi under my belt,” Du Plessis said
“I am not looking forward to the heat – being ginger, I am not a fan, but I am looking forward to chatting to the rest of the paddlers on the river and now that I know what to expect, being part of the event again is going to be fantastic.”
Achieving any dream takes lots of hard work and with duties as a radio sports presenter and father, the 33-year-old has had limited time to train for the race, billed as “the ultimate canoe challenge” but said he prepares as best as he can by doing CrossFit and boxing.
“My biggest problem is getting time on the water, so my paddling often leaves a lot to be desired,” he said. “Luckily the legend that is my partner, Deon Bruss, helps me down the river and through the tough patches like Inanda Dam and the stretch into Blue Lagoon.”
When he does get out on the water, Du Plessis trains on the Vaal River near his home in Vereeniging and takes his cues from the more experienced Bruss, with whom he has won the Celebrity Challenge in the last two Dusis.
Last year, the duo beat fellow 5FM DJ Unathi Msengana, who paddled with world-champion surf skier, Oscar Chalupsky, by 11 minutes.
“This year is about creating awareness around the residents living along the Dusi and helping to uplift their lives. It is also probably going to be my last one, so I will definitely be out to enjoy every moment and ending every day with an icy cold Hansa.”
And while Valentine’s Day falls during the race, Du Plessis still has plans to spoil his wife Natalie. “I need to make up for missing the last two Valentine’s as well, thanks to the Dusi. I have planned a weekend away, told her to pack and organise granny to watch our son. It is going to be a nice surprise when we arrive at our hotel in the Cape for a little us time.”