Issue 5 2020 OCT / NOV
SA Racing Returns
RACE THE WIND
• Downwind Queen • Iconic Miller’s Run • Rescue on the Run
IMAGE Nick Boura
Co n t e n t s FEATURES 8 DOWNWIND QUEEN 12 SHARK ENCOUNTER 14 KING OVERTHROWN 20 ICONIC MILLERS RUN 30 RESCUED ON THE RUN 36 kzn BACK ON THE WATER 38 PADDLING IN kzn 44 TREE-TASTROPHE 50 gcu mARATHONS 56 sa mARATHONS 58 PETE mARLIN 60 pADDLING DOWN SINgING CANYON
REVIEW 26 nk dOUBLE REVIEWED TECHNICAL 46 DEVISING TACTICS REGULARS 64 opiNION: Improbable Legacy 68 RECIPE Energy Balls 70 radar & evinrude
CONTRIBUTORS KEVIN BRUNETTE
Kevin is an established surfski paddler, having completed three Cape Point Challenges. He is motivated by technique and boat speed, and can often be seen on the water perfecting his stroke or at the gym working on his fitness. He has authored and published a number of books of surfski. They are available in epub, pdf or kindle formats. Google ‘surfski book’ for the links.
With 20 years paddling experience behind her, Nikki has competed in everything excet SUP! Nikki won the World Champion Round the cans title at the World Inter-club Lifesaving champs in Italy in 2004. World Junior Marathon Champs in 1998. World Marathon Champs K2 Bronze medalist with Michele Eray 2007. Beijing Olympics 7th place, K4 500m 2008.
Dave Macleod After getting into paddling at high school, Dave embarked on a career in journalism, working at Capital Radio, East Coast Radio and the SABC before starting Gameplan Media in 1997. An avid reader and writer, he works closely with many paddling events around the country
CELLIERS KRUGER Writer of paddling books; designer and manufacturer of some of the most innovative kayaks on the market; expedition paddler with descents on four continents; veteran of races like Dusi, Fish and Berg; freestyle kayaker representing SA at World Championships; safety kayaker and raft guide on various rivers in Africa and Europe; excompetitor in canoe polo and raft racing; experienced in open canoeing, surfski, slalom, wildwater racing and oar rafting; mechanical engineer with intimate understanding of fluid dynamics; reluctant coach and eternal student.
JAN DE NEEF EMMA LEVEMYR LEIGH DE NECKER
ROB MOUSLEY Rob Mousley won the Cape Town Surfski Series “Most Enthusiastic Paddler of the Year” award in 2005, and nothing’s changed since then. When the southeaster blows, he’s usually to be found on the world renowned Miller’s Run, which is conveniently located near his home in Cape Town. Having been involved in a number of rescues over the years, he’s become a keen advocate for safety in surfski paddling.
Kristen Thomas A Health Coach and loving mother to her ten year old daughter. She has 20 plus years experience in the health and fitness industry. She is passionate about educating individuals on healthy lifestyle habits and offering individual fitness training.
JOHN LEE JENNIE DALLAS SHARON ARMSTRONG NICOLE BIRKETT TRACY-LEE GALLOWAY
PHOTOGRAPHY Athony Grote Rob Mousley Graham Daniel JOHN hISHIN Lynne Hauptfleisch Nick Boura vecteezy.com
Chris greeff bertie baard simon mcdonnell emma levemyr leigh de necker sharon armstrong DUSI.CO.ZA
ON THE COVER ATHLETE Sharon Armstrong PHOTOGRAPHER Rob Mousley
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FROM THE ED
It is really good to see the end of #Lockdown and although it will take some time to get used to the new normal. The racing aspect is going to take a long time to get used to if the restrictions governing prize giving, selling of food and numbers allowed in the area remain for much longer. But by and large time trials and club events are up and running. On that note we have seen a resurgence of people wanting to get out and enjoy nature. Down here there are new people hiking, trail and road running, swimming, cycling and it appears that there are more people walking their dogs than ever before. The two clubs that I am involved with have also seen a steady stream of new people wanting to try paddling. Both clubs have had people on hand to welcome the newbies, help set up their boats and often go for a first paddle with them. This type of reception is definitely to be applauded and encouraged if we are to retain the new members. The next interesting observation is that in terms of my interactions, more than eighty percent have been women wanting to try out the
This is in stark contrast to the attendance at the provincial marathon trials where in KZN Jenna Ward and Bridgitte Hartley were left to battle it out. In GAU it may be that when Esti Van Tonder put her bright yellow Nelo on the start line the other women called it a day but it does beg the question about what happened to the other women. In the WC, U18 Christy Shrimpton teamed up with Candice Murray for the K2 but there were no U23 or snr K1 paddlers. Now when I am out paddling I am often passed by women in their K1â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s or surfskis out for a training paddle. So there are women paddlers out there having a great time on their own. We just need to find a way of getting them back in to our clubs. With one of my favourite races, the Pete Marlin being cancelled this year I was devastated that our roadtrip and classic races would not be on the cards for this year. Fortunately for some, the brains at CSA and the ever willing team at St Francis have come up with a super plan. They have opted to run SA
Surfski Champs and SA Marathon Champs over the same weekend. This is going to be a mammoth ask for the paddlers and especially the poor folk who have put their hands up to do the admin. All we can ask is that you as the paddler are super supportive and patient with all the marshals and officials asking you to stand here, wear your mask, sanitise your hands (again) and lastly do three backward summersaults before you put your boat on the water. The COVID regulations and resulting permits are a mountain to climb for anyone so they have already done a huge amount of work just to get you on to the sand. On the flip side the tiny seaside resort is about to double its inhabitants with the most rowdy and fun-loving people that you could ever hope to spend a weekend with. So make every effort to be there. For those that can make the trip, travel safely, have a blast, give it horns on the water and thank an official for all their hard work before you go home. ED
DOWNWIND QUEEN SHARON ARMSTRONG IMAGE Lynne Hauptfleisch
TPM Sharon, the first question I have always wanted to ask you is how did you get in to paddling? SA I grew up on a farm and found my passion with water sports early on with water skiing, wake boarding and some casual river paddling and canoe polo. So when I moved to Durban for work, It was a natural progression to attempt to surf ski as I always had a passion for the Sea. I was truly terrified of the thought of such a massive vessel in waves and would jump off my boat every time I saw a big wave approach. My first race was a huge easterly in Durban and I probably got wiped out 20 times before I finally made it out to backline, then got attacked by blue bottles which forced me to paddle in half way, but the bug had bitten and I was hooked.
IMAGES Lynne Hauptfleisch 10 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
TPM You have become a bit of a downwind celebrity â&#x20AC;&#x201C; how do you feel about that? SA Difficult to answer as I suppose hard to believe as I am a very low key paddler and just overwhelmed by the awesome paddlers out there that appreciate down winding and the ocean. TPM Please wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t you tell us what happened on that morning? SA It was shortly after lockdown and I decided to take half a day leave just to spend some time on the ocean and destress from all the work and craziness we had been dealing with due to the pandemic. It was hardly a downwind which is very rare for me. The attack happened at 2pm in the afternoon. I was really just having
a chilled paddle, stopping, putting my legs into the water and paddling very casually. I was about 1.5 km out to sea and heard a massive crash and got flung into the air. I knew immediately I had been hit by what seemed like a huge shark. When I came up, I knew I had to get into my boat as fast as possible as the shark could be coming back to attack me this time and in a panic I tried to remount twice and failed. I eventually remounted on the third attempt. Paddling back was challenging with my rudder totally jammed. The boat was also filling up with water. I was lucky enough to get through the surf and got to shore near Glenashley. READ full account over the page
TPM Was there anyone around you who was able to help?
to the incident due to lockdown so not even a shark was going to stop me from pursuing my passion. SA No, there were no other boats It will always be at the back of out at all. So I knew I had to selfmy mind though. I did have awful rescue and ensure that I stayed calm nightmares for a few weeks after the incident as I truly thought it was TPM How did you get back in the end that day, but those have also to the water? eased up now as-well. My passion SA I did paddle the next day on for the ocean and down winding still the same course with about 15 exceeds my fear of sharks. other paddlers and have continued TPM What is your advice to my downwind paddling ever since. paddlers that have hugely I felt that if I didn’t get “back on frightening encounters at sea? the horse” immediately, it would become more and more difficult and fear may get the better of me. It was one of the hardest things I have had to do. Initially it was very tough, every sound, shadow and fish would give me a fright. Slowly it became easier and easier. I do think it helped that we had been banned from paddling for 2 months prior
it. The easiest way to get your confidence back is to start small again, and don’t put pressure on yourself. Just have fun, do what you comfortable with and slowly build up to where you want to be again. I strongly believe in carrying all the safety equipment in the event such unforeseen circumstances happen. It helps to know you have some back up plans in these situations.
SA The best advice I can give to anyone that has had a scary encounter at sea, is to first put everything into perspective. There are actually so many more dangerous threats on land which we deal with daily, so as scary as it may seem, I still feel the sea is one of the safest places to be if you respect
Shark Encounter SHARON ARMSTRONG
It was a sunny day with not more than a 10 knot SE wind blowing and the sea was very clean and clear. I took a casual 16km paddle from DUC to Umhlanga. As I got closer to the end, the sun was shining onto the sea as it was 2pm in the afternoon and it was hard to sea the end or sea into the water. I was close to the end of the paddle and starting to cut across left as I had ended up a bit far out and headed towards Durban View Umhlanga. I was going no more than 10 km/ hour when I heard a massive bang which resembled a car accident which came with a huge impact. It hit me from the left side so I braced left to try stay upright, but then the impact threw me right and I got flung into the water. I knew immediately that it was a shark
and with the force of the impact, I thought it was a big shark that was in attack mode. At that point the panic set in and I flipped my boat upright and tried to remount in a bit of a panic. With the panic and the fact that the leash was wrapped around the boat, as well as the boat being on the side that is hard to remount, I struggled as the leash wouldn’t allow me to put my feet up. I realised that the more I splashed and panicked, the less chance I had of remounting and the more chance I had of attracting the shark back to possibly attack my legs that were thrashing around. I was just anxiously dreading the next possible attack on my boat or myself. So I had to calm down at least, and as soon as I did, I managed
to remount despite the fact that my leash was still around the boat. I took my leash off my leg to release it from below my boat and started paddling immediately. At that point I had no idea of the damage, so I glanced back to see if my tail was still intact, which it seemed to be. I started the paddle to back and only then did I realise my rudder was completely jammed and stuck at an angle which was forcing my boat to head away from the beach. The rudder had been forced into the back of the boat creating a substantial hole which resulted in the boat starting to fill with water. I tried to only paddle on the one side in an attempt to get the boat to veer right, but that was unsuccessful. I then had to stop the boat and manoeuvre it physically to face the
“The width between the teeth of the 3.5 white is about 2 cm. The measurement between the three tooth punctures on the board is about 2cm (roughly). I would now suggest that it was a white shark (between 3 and 3.5m) that hit your board.This is also based on 1) species likely to attack board, 2) size of shark from video, 3) force of attack, 4) size of white sharks commonly found along KZBN coast.” Dr Matt Dicken, Head of Research and Monitoring, KZN Sharks Board 12 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
beach by back paddling, then paddle a few strokes to get closer to the beach and then do that again, until I made headway. It seemed forever and it felt like I would never get there. There was no chance of getting back to the beach where my car was so my main aim was just to beach anywhere I could. I wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t sure if the shark was still around and following me so when my boat filled up with water, there was a bit of a worry. 300m before backline I became concerned that my boat was about to sink and envisioned that I might have to swim the rest of the way. The boat was
completely full with water but had enough flotation to continue moving forward. I managed to negotiate the surf as there were big gaps between sets and got to the shorebreak where I had to jump off as the boat was to heavy to get up the beach. The boat was now stuck in the shorebreak and I was worried it would get smashed so I kept trying to pull it up, but it wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t budge. I finally managed to get it washed up enough for it to be on an incline and the water started draining through
the hole in the rudder until it was light enough to pull up the beach to safety. I finally got all the water out and phoned a friend to meet me at the closet accessible beach which was 1km from where I was. I dragged the boat to that beach and was given a lift back to my car.
King Overthrown? Leigh de Necker
IMAGES Leigh De Necker 14 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
Did orcas frighten away False Bay’s cow sharks and what became of the great whites? First published in Daily Maverick
We had hardly settled back onto the boat, let alone had the chance to contemplate the killings and what or who may have caused them, when Tammy Engelbrecht sounded the alarm. “Look!” she cried through a mouthful of peanut-butter sandwich, “A whale.” Humpback, Bryde’s or southern right whales certainly visit boats, but this was something else. “Orca!” Dr Alison Kock confirmed. With most of my dive gear still on, I stumbled to the side, punching my hand into the water with my GoPro, to snap a lucky shot. The orca, also known as a killer whale (Orcinus orca), glided by, beneath us. It was not even a minute later when a second orca surfaced a few short meters off the bow of our boat. We had our prime suspects; the chase was on. Xiphodon -- sharks This story begins in 2015 when members of the Shark Spotters research team – Kock, Engelbrecht, Dave van Beuningen and myself, Leigh de Necker – started getting reports from recreational divers of dead broadnose sevengill, also known as cow sharks (Notorynchus cepedianus), at Miller’s Point.
There’s an old slipway at the point, located in False Bay on the Cape Peninsula, which makes it an easy place for divers to reach the kelp forest from the shore. Large granite rocks extend above the water. Below, sandy channels separate reefs, with caves and overhangs. Invertebrates brighten nature’s architecture with bursts of colour. Scuba and freedivers soon find themselves deep in a kelp forest wonderland. It’s a complex habitat, home to many fish and shark species found only in temperate Southern African waters. These include leopard (Poroderma pantherinum) and pyjama (Poroderma africanum) catsharks, spotted-gully sharks (Triakis megalopterus), puffadder (Haploblepharus edwardsii) and dark (Haploblepharus pictus) shysharks. Broadnose sevengill sharks are named for their blunt nose, broad head and seven gill slits, where most shark species only have five. They are among the most primitive shark species with adults reaching a maximum length of three meters. With a face resembling a dirty oven mitt and behind a deceptive, toothless smile, hide rows of razorsharp, cusped teeth on the upper jaw. The lower jaw’s teeth are jagged and comb-shaped allowing them to feed on a variety of prey. They pass the summer days, researchers suspect, sheltering in the kelp forest. At night they leave to hunt in deeper waters. Between October and January, sevengill sharks saturate Miller’s Point. They cruise its sandy-bottomed highways through the kelp forest, while divers, awkwardly suspended visitors in wetsuits, make way for their prehistoric, armoured hosts.
It’s truly a magical place, showcasing the diversity of sharks found within False Bay. At least that was the case until mid-November 2015 when the grisly discoveries began. Divers started finding scattered sevengill shark carcasses lying among the reefs, in what, contrary to expectation, had become an ominous, underwater graveyard. Our research team rushed to the site, launching the boat on a perfect early summer morning. Van Beuningen and I kitted up and hopped into the water to search for evidence at the proverbial crime scene. I have done countless dives at Miller’s Point and been fortunate to spend hours in the water observing these magnificent, docile dinosaurs. Finding an animal I respect and appreciate, dead in it’s underwater home, was heart-breaking. Divers from Pisces Dive Centre, in Simon’s Town, had collected three carcasses before our investigatory dive, so when we found carcass number four, we knew we had to perform full necropsies. All the carcasses shared the same external and internal injuries. Most noticeably, a tear from the pectoral fins across the abdomen of the shark, exposing the body cavity, with only the liver removed from an otherwise intact carcass. It looked like a cut, executed precisely, almost as if done with a knife.
Fishermen At this point, we were thinking fishermen had caught the sharks. Sevengill shark meat has little commercial value so they may have removed the large, oily livers to use as bait.
But Miller’s Point is in a marine protected area, where fishing is prohibited. It seemed unlikely sharks were being slaughtered without the authorities noticing. Detective divers,Van Beuningen and I were barely back on the boat and yet to digest all this when Engelbrecht spotted the orca and we began the chase. For two exhilarating hours we tracked the pair, who later became known, infamously, as “Port” and “Starboard.” They led us south for six kilometers until we lost sight of them off Smitswinkel Bay. We moored and went straight to Pisces Dive Centre to do full necropsies on the four carcasses. The killer whales, we discovered, had left behind a key bit of evidence. Stamped on the pectoral fins of each of the carcasses were distinct tooth impressions. Guilty! Immediately after we first saw Port and Starboard, all surviving sevengills fled. A few months later, sevengills began STARBOARD returning sporadically to Miller’s Point, but so did the shark-specialist hunters. The more we saw the two orcas in False Bay, the less we saw the sharks. Ultimately, the sevengills abandoned Miller’s Point.
On the move Port and Starboard were on the move too. Numerous accounts followed of them being sighted about 200km
east of False Bay, at the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) hot-spot of Gansbaai. Marine biologist, Alison Towner and her team from Marine Dynamics and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, investigated when liverless white shark carcasses washed up on the shores of Gansbaai in May 2017 and July 2020.
movements of white sharks in False Bay for many years. Her research has found that white sharks would typically spend the winter feeding on young seal pups at Seal Island, and in summer, they would move to the inshore areas to take advantage of migratory fish and other shark and ray species.
Although orcas were never recorded killing white sharks in False Bay, white shark sightings have decreased dramatically in both False Bay and Gansbaai.
However, since the first visit of Port and Starboard to False Bay in 2015 (and their sevengill shark liver feast), Shark Spotters, a shark safety and research organisation, and local fishermen reported fewer white shark sightings along the inshore areas during summer too. Cagediving operators became concerned at the dwindling numbers at Seal Island, in the historically peak winter season.
White sharks and sevengills share many of the same prey, including seals, other sharks and rays, and bony fish. However, they appear to hunt in different areas or at different times. Research by Engelbrecht and Dr Kock has found that sevengills are nocturnal hunters. By day, they may rest under
the shelter and protection of the shallow kelp forest, venturing into deeper, open waters at night, where they are less conspicuous to prey, and less likely to fall prey to white sharks, False Bay’s charismatic apex predator. In contrast to the lesser studied sevengill, white shark movements in False Bay had been relatively well-documented and found to be rather predictable… until recently. Dr Kock has tagged and tracked the
With sevengills absent from Miller’s Point and white sharks no longer enthused by the buffet on offer at Seal Island, by 2018, Scuba divers and cage-diving operators were becoming very despondent. No sharks, no business. Researchers and conservationists became concerned too. No top predatory sharks, no balanced ecosystem. Just as the last glimmer of hope was fading, there was an unexpected turn of events for Seal Island shark ecotourism. Sevengill sharks began tugging on bait lines and investigating awkwardly-caged tourists around the diving boats. My Masters research revealed that
seals form an important part of the sevengill shark diet. In fact, there appears to be a higher proportion of seal in the diet of sevengills than in that of white sharks. This is likely as a result of sevengills eating seals all year round, while white sharks feed on seals seasonally. Sevengill sharks appeared to be taking advantage of the white shark’s infrequent visits to Seal Island, as they could exploit an abundant prey source, Cape fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus), without the potential threat or competition from white sharks. Although cage-divers wait in hope to see the majestic great white, they have been enjoying visits from the humble sevengill shark, with their delightful grin and a face resembling
The sevengill shark
a dirty oven-mitt. Seal Island will, however, always be the territory of the legendary white shark, and it is anybody’s guess as to when they may return to their kingdom. The ocean and marine life are incredibly complex and dynamic. Never static, never predictable, always fascinating. Ironically, what was expected to be a refuge area for sevengills, turned out to be a place where many were killed. To add to the irony, sevengill sharks now occupied the territory of white sharks (the predators they were likely seeking refuge from in the first place). Although shark-specialist orcas are well documented elsewhere in the world, we (and perhaps the sharks themselves) never expected any animal to scare
off a great white. There are no conclusive answers as to why the interactions and dynamics between top predatory sharks have changed over the years. Nor is it clear to what degree the increased presence of the superpredatory orcas may have played a part. It would be ignorant to expect a simple answer and to assume humans have no role to play in this. As much as we cannot discount the orcas’ impact, a combination of factors are likely influencing the presence of predatory sharks and orcas in the bay.
‘Flake and chips’ One such theory is that persistent offshore commercial long-line
fishing is depleting much of the orca’s offshore shark prey, while inshore shark fishing could be depleting some of the key prey species for white sharks. The inshore shark fishery in South Africa targets predominantly soupfin/tope (Galeorhinus galeus) and smoothhound (Mustelus mustelus) sharks, with the meat sold as “flake” and chips in Australia. Most consumers are unaware they are eating shark, and there is no legal requirement that it be sold by its actual name. The fishing of tope sharks is now illegal in Australian waters where stocks have been depleted. Fisheries have turned to South Africa, with detrimental effects to our stocks and the entire False Bay ecosystem.
The ocean has no fences, no walls, no boundaries. If a particular habitat ceases to be favourable for whatever reason, be it a lack of prey, or threats from predators or people, animals move, adapt or die. I desperately hope to see white and sevengill sharks return to False Bay soon. Not only for the sake of the ecotourism that relies on their presence, but for the imperative role they play in maintaining the area’s ecology.
Leigh de Necker is a marine biologist, aquarist and commercial diver at the Two Oceans Aquarium. She has completed her Master of Science (MSc) degree where she researched the feeding habits of broadnose sevengill and great white sharks in False Bay, South Africa. De Necker was one of seven winners in a recent writing competition on sharks and rays run by Roving Reporters.The competition was supported by WildOceans, a programme of the WildTrust, which facilitated access to conservation-minded youth keen to share their passion and develop writing skills with mentorship from Roving Reporters.The opinions and views expressed in this Ocean Watch series are not necessarily those of the WildTrust. https://rovingreporters.co.za/ cow-shark-millers-pointpuzzler/
ICONIC Millerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Run
IMAGE: Rob Mousley
The Miller’s Run...
The what, how, when, who and why?
The Millers run is arguably the world’s best downwind. It certainly attracts a variety of paddlers from around the world and is a downwind on all paddlers bucket list. Everything about this run seems scripted: the conditions, the distance, the launch, the finish, the accessibility, and pure exhilaration it is just perfect.
The What. A Millers run is between 11.6km and 12km long depending on the tide and conditions, can be done in either direction. A Reverse Millers is from Fish Hoek beach to Millers point done on a NW wind (predominant wind in the Cape 22 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
Town winter) and from Millers point to Fish Hoek on the South East (the VERY frequent and predominant wind in summer). For ease in this article a Millers run refers to a run in the South Easter from Millers point to Fish Hoek, and a Reverse Millers run is from Fish Hoek to Millers point on a North Wester. The Millers run can be done in big swell, small swell, big winds, light winds and with a push, weekly. The predominant and frequent winds with near perfect direction along the Miller Run route makes it unfair to compare to any other downwinds.
The How. Accessibility - The millers run is very accessible for several reasons:
The Millers taxi - shuttles groups to and from Millers when the wind is good, this adding to safety in numbers and total convenience. No more looking for drivers! The drive is quick and there is little traffic – 20 min one way is quick and easy!
The start – With two slipways to choose from, getting your hair wet is never an option, it is an easy launch with a safe finish in the sheltered Fish Hoek waters. No sweaty palms, dry palates or crooked necks worrying about surf.
Safety in numbers - Being a very popular paddle route, there is generally a crew on the water or
coming behind you for added safety. The NSRI have a base mid-way of the Millers run and are very tuned in with our paddling groups and activities.
The “Rules” - The Millers run rules have been firmly instilled in paddlers since the beginning of time and they are as follows:
South Easter Millers 1) Start behind the rock at Millers point. (Getting to the rock is often the hardest part) 2) When your feet touch the sand in front of the Lifesaving club you may stop your watch to get your time. (The record is held by Jasper Mocke in a time of 36:36) 3) General manners – slower paddlers head off first, each wave of
paddlers leaving the slip way meet at the rock and race home.
North Wester 1) Start your watch as your feet leave Fish Hoek Beach 2) Paddle to the slip way on the Northern side of Millers point and stop your watch at the edge of the breakwater. The “line” – The Lighthouse is the major marker in the Millers run, on a general day (IE with the correct wind) you want to aim at the lighthouse, and passing just on the inside of the Lighthouse (between the lighthouse and the land). This sets you up on a great line (and avoids the reefs on the outside). Once past the Lighthouse on a South East, aim at the Glencairn Quarry. (A big brown hole in the
You need to improve on the following skills to improve on a downwind Cadence – keeping a high stroke rate/ being able to paddle with a high stroke rate effectively is important to accelerating onto runs
Fitness – you need to be fit to paddle downwind, its high intensity, hundreds of 10 stroke intervals in an hour, so work on fitness and speed
Catch a wave – if you can manage your ski out through the surf, turn and catch a wave successfully your downwind skills will improve. You will know how to handle your ski, feel speed, and enjoy yourself. THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA 23
mountain) Fish Hoek is past that, don’t get confused and head to Glencairn.
millers run in that speed of wind.
The exhilaration and speed mixed with skill and adventure makes for a memorable paddle. Reaching speeds of 25km on some runs its just nonstop action.
Fish Hoek is a windy place, so Millers runs are frequent and readily available. It is important to know your own limits and check the conditions yourself. In my opinion the best conditions are: SE @ 20 knots and small to medium swell is perfection for most, NW @ 20 knots and no rain is perfection for most. Avoid Millers runs when: Its ESE, the easterly makes the ocean angry and messy, it’s less fun for less experienced but nice and technical for those wanting a challenge. Avoid Reverse Millers runs when: The wind direction is WNW (the WNW blows you out to sea), it’s raining (the white out is a real thing and when you can’t see where you are going, things get confusing quickly) and If you don’t have warm paddling gear and all your safety equipment.
The Who. The Millers run is for everyone IF you can remount your ski, paddle 10km on the flat with ease, catch a wave successfully and can effectively use your safety gear. If you are unsure of your ability in a certain wind speed, here is a test you can do... Paddle out of Fish Hoek bay past the Sunny Cove station steps, do a turn or two, and do a remount. If you can turn, paddle against the wind and remount, you are ready to do a 24 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
A few of the Millers maniacs group members, who are aiming at 100 Millers runs in 2020, had this to say about why they love the run… Rudy Durand who has done 75 Millers runs in 2020 says “I love Millers runs because it’s the perfect combination of feeling nervous but super excited at the same time” Charlie Berrington “You get to have a lot of fun doing something that is good for you on so many levels. It’s the fun and not the time I chase!” Mike Thorpe, leader of the Millers maniac group with 82 Millers runs in 2020 says “The Millers run is a special piece of ocean, one day you’re soaking up the scenery, from whales to sunsets over the mountain, the next you are racing your mates or yourself and sometimes doubting your abilities and your sanity. All of this with the convenience and support of Millers Taxi that we often get to rub shoulders with legends of surf ski paddling and mere mortals that lends to a very strong sense of comradeship and community.” And then everyone has that Millers we will never forget… Neil Kirkwood remembers an epic tale of a Millers run on 10 Dec 2017…SE 35 knots gusting, 4.1 m swell… in attendance, Laousse, Marais, Berrington and Kirkwood. Berrington and Kirkwood in such esteemed company? If ever a day for the Chicken slipway, no man up for Rumbly Bay.
“It’s said the hardest part of a Big Millers is the paddle to the Rock. More than a vestige of truth in that. No setting of the Garmin not the time for remount practice. Blast past the Rock straight onto multiple runs. Laousse, Marais have gone. Strange! Charlie’s voice seems to be a bit high pitched, must be that tight pair of shorts. Buddy system deployed strongly recommended even though you need Xray vision to see another paddler. As for turning your ski around Good Luck. Halfway at the lighthouse already in what seems like minutes possibly a combination of fear, exhilaration, and a healthy dose of stupidity. It picks up here the runs are steep, the gusts treacherous, show me one of us who said he went for every run and I will show you a liar. A bit of “what are we doing here” invades the mind space quickly shoved aside worse thoughts lurk. At the beach fall off in 50CM of water entry reputation intact. This is what we live for the immense satisfaction of having stared the abyss in the face and prevailed.”
Wind speed guideline
Safety Gear is non-negotiable, the water gets cold and wild! In order of importance (in my opinion):
(Note – you can be a good paddler but a beginner on the downwind spectrum, don’t confuse the two)
Leash PFD Tracking device/phone Whistle Warm BRIGHT gear Ability to save yourself Make sure you can remount your ski in any conditions and work on your swimming. NEVER EVER lose your ski or paddle and if you are in a tricky situation assume no one has seen you or can find you so saving yourself and making a plan to get to land is up to you.
Downwind paddlers guide Beginners – 10 - 15 knots Intermediate – 15 – 20 knots Experienced – 20 – 30 knots Super experienced – 30 knots +
Nordic Kayaks Double 670 CarbonX
IMAGES Supplied by Emma Levemyr
I always say that paddling a double is double the fun! It offers a great opportunity for beginners to come along and get a shortcut to see what surfski paddling is all about. I also enjoy taking the double out for a paddle (or should I say battle?) with one of my surfski friends around the local cape when the winds are really strong. We scream and laugh together while enjoying the ocean roller coaster. The double is also often used during interval sessions, both with experienced and less experienced paddlers. Trent, Evy and I have been friends since 2011 and we live and paddle in the waters off the Swedish West Coast. Together we owned and paddled the Epic V10 double (ultra) and the CS Zest double. For me, these two doubles are fairly equal in stability and speed. I find the seating 26 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
comfort better in the Zest and I liked the feeling of a somewhat shorter double. Both surf well, no question about that. A few years ago, I bought the Fenn Elite S double (carbon), a truly beautiful elite surfski. After my friend improved the cockpit drainage by replacing the rather poor Fenn scuppers with the efficient DeBrito bailers, it changed from being a bath-tub to a rocket-ship. The Fenn double is still on my surfski rack while the Epic and Zest now belong to other happy paddlers. The newcomer is the Nordic Kayaks (NK) 670 double. My two friends and I got interested when we heard that NK was about to build a double surfski. We were looking for a double with great seating comfort, since this has been the issue for some of us with both
the Epic and the Zest. Evy, one of the part owners, is pretty short and has been longing for a double with a low hump and a foot rest possible to adjust for her leg length. Since we are all paddling NK singles we were sure the NK double would fulfill our requirements.
Weight and materials The NK Double comes in three materials/weight classes, Carbon Hybrid 18 kilos, Carbon Lite 13.8 kilos and CarbonX 13.4 kilos. NK skis are currently built using prepreg material with autoclave curing, creating an extra light yet strong construction. We decided to go for one of the lightest ones as I wanted to be able to load it on my minibus on my own. In retrospect, I am so happy we chose to spend the extra money on the lighter one. I just love to handle it, to me the light weight
turned out to be more important than I thought. More to come about that later.
Stability When replacing the Zest double I was looking for a double in the same range when it came to stability. The NK double is 50cm wide, which is one cm wider than the Zest, which is 0,7 cm wider than the Epic. I would say the stability of the NK double and the Zest are about equal. The cockpit Oh those NK buckets â&#x20AC;&#x201C; how I love them! The main reason why we wanted to upgrade the double is because of the bucket and cockpit. To me, the NK cockpits (since 2017) are the most comfy I have ever tried, especially the bucket. Also the
humps are low and positioned a bit closer to the bucket, which I do appreciate even though I have long legs. Another thing I enjoy with these cockpits is that they offer a higher seating position than I encountered on previous skis. The cockpit rails are a bit lower than on the Zest, which makes re-entry a bit easier but results in a wetter ride. The front cockpit fits persons 155195cm tall (beam 43cm) and the rear cockpit fits persons 165-200cm (beam: 45.5cm). The paddle entry for the rear cockpit is a bit wide, today I find myself hitting the deck a bit too often.
Steering The NK Double comes with self
adjustable steering and with a foot rest that is easy to adjust. In the double it is possible to steer both from the front seat and from the back seat. We thought this may be a problem but also knew it would be possible to replace the foot rest in the back with one without pedals. In the end, when using the double, we found this only to be a nice feature. I will now be able to let my friends take the front seat because I can steer from the back seat. Our double came with the race rudder, which was too small for the bigger waves. We have now replaced it with the wave rudder.
The length The NK double is 670 cm long. The Zest is 725 cm long and the Epic v10 Double is even longer, at 760 cm to be exact. THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA 27
This short double truly has some advantages but maybe some disadvantages. With the shorter length I have got a double that is very easy to maneuver, it is very easy to drive and, in that sense, it feels like paddling a K2 when sitting in the front seat. It is also easy to carry around and load on roof racks. What are the disadvantages? Well, when paddling upwind meeting choppy waves, it can be a bit wet in the front seat. During the first test I did the conditions were pretty
wild with winds over 28 knots and waves over two meters around the local cape. The first 30 minutes was a great upwind struggle, with strong wind and small but very choppy waves while we were still inshore. And yes I got swamped every now and then, definitely more frequently than if I had been sitting in a full length double. The integrated wave deflector helps a lot but still, I got wet. To me thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no problem since the bailer is so efficient but ask me again in January when the water
temperature is a bit different :-) When meeting the bigger waves the ski behaved just like the full-length ones, going up and over them. Surfing those beautiful waves was great fun, and with the NK double it was easy to hold position and maintain the wave. When going downwind in smaller and slower waves (0,3m waves) I noticed the speed was great as long as I could surf the waves at an angle, but when trying to go straight downwind I would get a bit stuck. With a full length ski it would
probably be easier to climb over the smaller waves. On the other hand, I found it easier to surf the waves with an angle and the ski showed up to be much faster than I thought. With the shorter length/shorter nose, the buoyancy of the ski is of course lower and this becomes obvious in some wave conditions. I have used the double a lot since we unwrapped it, both in flat and big conditions, with beginners and with more experienced paddlers, and I am very happy to pay this price of less
buoyancy since the advantages of this ski far outweigh the disadvantages to me.
Conclusion I have got a double that I really look forward to taking out for a paddle. It is comfy, fun, easy to paddle, it works fine for me bringing beginners out and it is fast enough to race. Family members enjoy it as well since it is a great and fun means of transportation between the rocky islands in the small archipelago where we live. It is so light we can
lift it up at almost any rock and go for a swim or a coffee. I have noticed that I use this double more frequently than any of the other doubles and right now, it seems that I only need one double.
Ponta do Ouro
Orange River Mouth
Tugela River Mouth
Port St Johns Dassen Island Cape Agulhas
SALDANHA PORT CONTROL Tel: 022 714 1726 Stn. 24 Lambert’s Bay – 060 960 3027 Stn. 04 Mykonos – 082 990 5966 Stn. 34 Yzerfontein – 082 990 5974
CAPE TOWN PORT CONTROL Tel: 021 449 3500 Stn. 18 Melkbosstrand – 082 990 5958 Stn. 03 Table Bay – 082 990 5963
Great Fish River Mouth
Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) Tel: 021 938 3300 NSRI HQ: 021 434 4011 MOSSEL BAY PORT CONTROL Tel: 044 604 6271 Stn. 33 Witsand – 082 990 5957 Stn. 31 Still Bay – 082 990 5978 Stn. 15 Mossel Bay – 082 990 5954 Stn. 23 Wilderness – 082 990 5955 Stn. 12 Knysna – 082 990 5956
EAST LONDON PORT CONTROL Tel: 043 700 2100 Stn. 07 East London – 082 990 5972 Stn. 28 Port St Johns – 082 550 5430
DURBAN PORT CONTROL Tel: 031 361 8567 Stn. 32 Port Edward – 082 990 5951 Stn. 20 Shelly Beach – 082 990 5950 Stn. 05 Durban – 082 990 5948
Stn. 14 Plettenberg Bay – 082 990 5975
RICHARDS BAY PORT CONTROL Tel: 035 753 1991
Stn. 10 Simon’s Town – 082 990 5965
P.E. PORT CONTROL Tel: 041 507 1911
INLAND DAMS AND LAKES
Stn. 16 Strandfontein – 082 990 6753
Stn. 36 Oyster Bay – 082 990 5968
Stn. 22 Vaal Dam – 083 626 5128
Stn. 09 Gordon’s Bay – 072 448 8482
Stn. 21 St Francis Bay – 082 990 5969
Stn. 27 Victoria Lake – 060 991 9301
Stn. 17 Hermanus – 082 990 5967
Stn. 37 Jeffreys Bay – 079 916 0390
Stn. 25 Hartbeespoort Dam – 082 990 5961
Stn. 29 Air Sea Rescue – 082 990 5980
Stn. 06 Port Elizabeth – 082 990 0828
Stn. 35 Witbank Dam – 060 962 2620
Stn. 30 Agulhas – 082 990 5952
Stn. 11 Port Alfred – 082 990 5971
Stn. 38 Theewaterskloof – 072 446 6344
Stn. 02 Bakoven – 082 990 5962 Stn. 08 Hout Bay – 082 990 5964 Stn. 26 Kommetjie – 082 990 5979
Stn. 19 Richards Bay – 082 990 5949
CRAIG LAMBINON: 082 380 3800 (Communications)
You can download a digital version of these emergency numbers from our website: http://www.nsri.org.za/emergency-numbers/
RESCUED ON THE RUN rob mousley
IMAGE Simon McDonnell curtesy Rob Mousley
When the NSRI found Duncan MacDonald, he was approximately 6km off Smitswinkel Bay, drifting rapidly further offshore. Gale-force squalls whipped sheets of spray off the waves, reducing visibility almost to nothing.
What Happened? Given the small size of the surfski community, there’s always intense interest whenever there’s a rescue. What happened? What did they do wrong? What can we learn from it? Clearly there are lessons to be
learnt from any mishap – so here’s a description of what happened, shared with the permission and cooperation of the folks involved in the hope that we might all learn from this incident.
Reverse Miller’s Run During the morning of 9 July 2020, a constant stream of paddlers had 32 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
launched off the beach at Fish Hoek to paddle with the wind and waves to Miller’s Point, just under 11km down the coast. Hundreds of paddlers cover this route, the “Reverse Miller’s Run” every winter, setting off whenever a cold front triggers the NW wind. On this day, the wind had been extreme: gale-force at times, 30kt gusting to 40 or 45kt. But the NNW direction had been perfect, and at 9am the record for the run had been broken by Jasper Mocke, in a time of 36:55. (I too broke my
personal record, in a much more pedestrian 42:58.) By 1pm, the wind had dropped to around 15kt, gusts of 20-25kt. The direction had changed slightly, the weather station at Fish Hoek showing that it was more NW that the earlier NNW. The forecast had predicted that it would swing due west, but it wasn’t anything like that
yet. Duncan MacDonald, Thomas Altmann and Michael Thorpe set off into the relatively benign conditions. Knowing that the wind was forecast to swing west later in the afternoon, they initially hugged the coast, bearing right out of Fish Hoek bay to get on a more inshore line than usual. “The wind direction was fine as we exited the bay,” said Altmann. “There was none of the side-on chop that you sometimes get.”
The further they got from shore, the bigger the waves and soon they were surfing gleefully down the faces… Being the least experienced of the three paddlers, MacDonald was keeping an eye out for the two in front. “I deliberately stayed well inside Michael,” he said. “So, I thought I was on a safe line.”
Conditions Change Past the lighthouse, the men had the finish at Miller’s Point in sight, when suddenly the wind strength increased dramatically. At the same time, the shore faded from view, hidden by a combination of the squalls, mist and rain… What the men didn’t at first appreciate was how much the wind direction had changed as well. Both MacDonald and Altmann commented that as soon as the conditions changed, they had instinctively altered course towards land – or so they thought. In fact, they were fooled by the wind direction: although they were now paddling partly side-on to the wind, the change in the wind direction meant that at best they were paddling parallel to the shore, not towards it. “Our depth perception was affected by the bad visibility,” said MacDonald. “I certainly didn’t realize how far offshore we were.”
Miller’s Point After catching a brief glimpse of the buildings just before Miller’s Point, Altmann realized that he was on the verge of over-shooting the finish. Turning hard right, he battled, sideon to the wind and waves, to fight his way to shore. “If you zoom in on the Strava track, you can see where the wind blew me off course every time a squall came through,” he said. At the ramp,Vincent Cicatello was waiting for the paddlers to arrive. Anxious, he put a call through to the NSRI. He could see two of the paddlers, but they were in the wrong place and were overdue. He wasn’t sure, he told the NSRI, but
there might be a problem. Altmann and then Thorpe finally made it around the breakwater – but MacDonald was nowhere in sight and they decided to call the NSRI to raise the alarm.
SafeTRX At almost the same time, the NSRI Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) received an emergency notification from SafeTRX – a mobile phone tracking app that many of the paddlers use. MacDonald, realizing that he’d passed Miller’s Point and finding himself unable to make any headway towards land had made the decision to call for help and had triggered the app. “From my GPS I knew that I had travelled 11km,” he said, “and that meant I was past Miller’s Point – although I couldn’t see it.” Things started to change rapidly: the coast curves south at that point and he was being blown further offshore. Conditions were becoming more extreme, squall following squall as he neared the area known by the paddlers as “hurricane alley”, a notorious area where westerly winds are funneled into howling torrents between two peaks. “My choices were to continue to try to paddle in and perhaps land at Smitswinkel Bay, or to call for help,” he said. While he was able to make some headway in the lulls, he could hardly hang to his paddle when the squalls hit. Rather than exhaust himself, he opted to make the emergency call. He tapped the “Call for Help” button on the app and within moments was through to the NSRI Ops Room. They told him they
were activating NSRI Simon’s Town and rang off. He’d had the app on the lowest power setting, updating every 10 minutes, but it now automatically switched to the “Alert and Track” mode, updating at 5min intervals. “Hitting the button was simple,” he said. “The call was ok, hearing them was fine, but with the wind noise, they struggled to hear me.” At that point, his approach became one of survival. “I wanted to stay on the boat – for warmth and to be more visible,” he said. “The Blue-fin is very stable, and with my legs over the side, I could sit there forever.” And it felt like forever. “I lost all sense of time,” he said. “In the moment it felt like time stood still. “But it was probably around 45 minutes later when I saw the NSRI rescue boat approaching.” By that time, he’d drifted approximately 6km off Smitswinkel Bay in the midst of growing seas and sheeting squalls.
The last 400m “Your emotions are interesting out there,” he said. “After I’d called for help, I wasn’t really worried – until they went past without seeing me! Then it was ‘what if they can’t find you…’ There’s that doubt in your mind.” At that moment he was on the phone to Altmann. Altmann relayed the message to the NSRI who then called MacDonald directly and he was able to guide them to his location. The NSRI crew loaded MacDonald onto the “Spirit of Surfski 2” RIB and took him across to the big “Spirit of Safmarine” rescue craft where he was transferred for the THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA 33
trip back to the Simon’s Town base. Having been warmed up and assessed, no further medical treatment was necessary.
Reflections A day later, MacDonald was thankful to be alive.
either!” he said. But he hadn’t seen the note on the WhatsApp group. •
Having done some 30 Miller’s Runs this year, he felt he was probably overconfident.
The stability of the Fenn Bluefin was key. “I can’t imagine trying to stay upright on an elite ski, even the Swordfish,” he said. “I’d definitely take more safety gear another time,” he said. “I can see why guys carry a VHF or other backup.”
“Obviously you feel stupid and your ego is dented – but if this story can be of use to the rest of the paddling community, so much the better,” he said. “Hindsight is 20:20 of course!” Some of the things that helped were: •
Because he’d been working in his office that morning, his phone was fully charged when he set off. Had it only been on half-charge, it would probably have died before he was found. Months ago, he threw an energy gel into his PFD pocket. After he called for help, he ate it, and drank some of the water that he’d also taken with him. “I really think that helped keep me alert,” he said.
Other thoughts: •
MacDonald emphasizes the importance of listening to more experienced paddlers. “Had I seen the message from one of the senior paddlers to say that he wasn’t going because of the forecast, I wouldn’t have gone
Recognise that you’re in trouble and call earlier rather than later, while you still have the energy and dexterity to use the phone (your fingers will be the first part of your body to go numb as you get cold.)
In terms of safety gear, McDonald was equipped with: PFD Leg leash Paddle leash Warm top Water and an energy gel Mobile Phone (iPhone XS) in a waterproof pouch McDonald commented, “you often hear the Reverse Miller’s touted as the ‘safe’ run, ideal for beginners. But actually, because you’re being blown offshore, it’s a lot more dangerous.”
IMAGE Simon McDonnell curtesy Surfski.info 34 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
Key Skill Dawid Mocke, a hugely experienced, ex-surfski World Series Champion said, “One key skill here is the ability to turn broadside and paddle into a strong wind. My estimation is that 30kt is probably the limit for most paddlers.” Peter Cole commented, “One of the things that people don’t realize is that the wind is much gustier on a reverse – on a regular Miller’s Run, the wind strength stays pretty much constant, but on a reverse, the gusts can be twice the average speed or more. That makes it much more difficult and dangerous.”
Layers of Safety It should be noted that while SafeTRX worked brilliantly on this occasion, no single safety device should be totally relied upon. The mobile phone relies on its battery and on a strong signal. When did you last check that your phone was on a 100% charge before paddling?! Which is why, especially in those conditions, I also carry pencil flares and a DSC-capable VHF radio.
The Hard Questions It’s easy to point fingers at these paddlers and to ask why they were out there in such extreme conditions.
But if we ask them that question – we need to ask ourselves too.
keyboard warriors who wouldn’t know a surfski if it bit them.
Two weeks ago, dozens of paddlers did the reverse Miller’s in similar gale-force conditions. One of them, Kim van Gysen, broke a rudder cable near the lighthouse. In 3040kt winds. Fortunately, she’s an extremely experienced surf lifesaver – and she was paddling with her husband Simon, who’s unarguably one of the best surfski paddlers in the world. They swapped boats and he managed to make his way to the finish with steering to one side only – in an utter maelstrom. If it had been anyone else, guess what? The NSRI would have been out there searching for them.
But here’s the thing:
I paddled that day as well – and if I’m honest, I had a couple of moments where I was at the edge of my ability to cope with the conditions. And on the morning of Duncan MacDonald’s rescue, dozens of paddlers – including me – again ventured out into the 30-40kt winds – a couple of the gusts that hit me were so strong that all I could do was hang onto the paddle and brace. I did my record time for the reverse – yippee – but was it worth it? The surfski community has come in for a lot of flak on social media in the last few days as a result of this rescue, most of it, admittedly from
NSRI crews are volunteers; they’re not paid to come rescue us. They come from all walks of life and are just as affected by the pandemic as everyone else.
When the crew is on board the rescue boat, they’re in a confined space. No social distancing for them.
On the rescue boat, it’s not that difficult to injure yourself. The very last thing a crewperson should be doing at the moment is going to a hospital – they’re all crowded with covid-19 patients.
Whenever there’s a call-out for a surfski paddler, the NSRI makes sure that an ambulance is on standby. It’s likely, after all, that there may be a patient with hypothermia.
So, we need to take a hard look at ourselves and ask whether galeforce downwinds are appropriate right now given the circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic. Do we have the right to put the NSRI at risk and to take up stretched medical resources at this time? I’m particularly conflicted: my life revolves around paddling downwind
and the thought of not going out when the conditions are so wild goes against my very reason for living… But it’s clear to me. I’ve decided that I don’t have the right to put others at this risk at this time for the sake of my sport. I’m not going out again in extreme conditions until the pandemic is over. It breaks my heart – but it’s a very small sacrifice in the greater scheme of things. (On the other hand, my family, who always watch SafeTRX anxiously when I go out – apparently, they don’t have the same faith in my ability that I do – are delighted.) This isn’t to say that I won’t go out at all – in milder conditions I’ll certainly be out there. But pushing the limits? No, not until the pandemic is over and I’m not subjecting the NSRI (and all the other emergency services) to the out-of-the-ordinary risks of this pandemic time.
Thanks to the NSRI “I can’t praise the NSRI too much,” said MacDonald. “Every aspect of the rescue, from the communication to the empathy and care that they took of me.They were superbly professional from start to finish. And when you consider that they’re a bunch of volunteers supported solely by fundraising…”
KZN BACK ON THE WATER
IMAGE: Graham Daniel | 360 Communications 36 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
Upper Umgeni Season Opener I think that went pretty well all things considered. Big thanks to all who helped make it happen. Primarily all the paddlers and their “drivers” for making it all worth while! WO Moonsammy – Cramond SAPS for his help steering us through Covid regs minefield. Craig Truter and Family for the finish. Looking great. Nix and Frederick who toiled in the sun on Friday to clean the start area. Duncan and Stuart et al from CRU for the starts and parking. Michelle and Louise et all from UMV for the screening and sanitizing. Jan and Lawrence with Tracey from UMZ for the sweeping. Rob for Safety Officer Duty.
Well done everyone!
RESULTS Overall 1. Hamish Lovemore(U23) 2. Sam Butcher(U18) 3. David Evans(U23) Women 1. Mel Croeser 2. Jordan Peek 3. Georgie Howard
2. Georgie Howard 3. Hannah Bruni SV Ian Griffiths – Kim and Julie-Ann Riley V Stu Clifton SM Shane Millward – Dorette Crous M Gavin Dundas-Starr – Vanessa Mayhew SGM Ian Walker – Kim Peek
Boys 1. Sam Butcher 2. Matt Millward 3. Jack Edmonds 1st U16 -Ben Maehler
1st K2 Banesti Nkhoesa and Terrence Galloway
Girls 1. Mel Croeser(U16)
1st Mixed Double – Kevin and Jenna Goddard
GM Jim Taylor
PAddling in KZN Albert Falls Dam to Nagle Dam Section jan de neef
IMAGE: Graham Daniel | 360 Communications 38 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
This past Sunday, whilst sweeping the Jock Claasens memorial race from Albert Falls weir to Baynes Drift, the more leisurely (and my normal) pace at the back of the field allowed some reflection on the different challenges, opportunities and personalities presented by this, probably the most paddled river in the country. Most people get involved in this sport with their prime motivation being completing the Dusi; there is volumes of information available regarding the route and challenges of this iconic race, so for the purposes of this article, lets concentrate on the river between Albert Falls and Nagle dams. The first river experience for the bulk of KZN wannabe paddlers is a trip down the upper umgeni, where, for most, their first obstacle, (and first swim) happen within 200m at the Albert Falls weir, for pretty much all paddlers this is the start of that never-ending learning curve …. The river between Albert Falls and the Wartburg bridge usually flows at a navigable but gentle 4-7 cumecs, presenting a relatively safe exposure to the bulk of the different obstacles one finds on rivers; weirs, overhanging trees, horizontal and vertical eddies, differing flows and currents; all in a C-grade river I recall my first river experience many years back – I and my then paddling partner had over-indulged watching a Comrades marathon, and decided to take up this Dusi challenge; and by the time we got to Albert Falls in a highly unstable and twitchy Accord, too many bets and sweeping brave statements had been made, leaving no choice other than onwards downstream. At least 25 swims and probably 4
hours of purgatory later we had a far better idea of the challenge that awaited us …. Fortunately for most, we were way worse than the average potential paddler, but clearly we were either good learners, masochists, or simply too stubborn as we are both still very much involved. I don’t think there are any paddlers who don’t have some war stories about the upper umgeni; the 1m weir has claimed more than just your novice paddler; Ant Stott swam there some years back during an Ossie Gladwin, Lyle Wheeler and Graeme Pope-Ellis also are amongst the victims; there are overgrown bramble infested channels ((the umgeni tattoo parlours) technical rapids, all of which will reward the odd moment of complacency with a reminder that the river is always King. Once the initial challenge of the upper Umgeni has been mastered, the river still presents a most enjoyable 2-3 hr paddle. In addition to the varied paddling conditions, there is always a variety of bird life, and the odd small crocodile to enjoy, and with Kzn weather we can paddle the whole year …. OK it does get chilly in winter, but as long as you stay in the boat …. Then there are the events which venture downstream of the Wartburg bridge … some upper umgeni races (Ozzie, Nobby Nel) end 4 kms further downstream at Thornvale. The river changes personality, with more gradient and testier rapids – definitely worth the 16 km grind above the bridge to get there, and a small step up in challenge, difficulty, enjoyment and for some, a couple of new scrapes and bruises.
As we now continue downstream, we get to 40kms of river, which is as unique, testy and enjoyable as any other river in the country. If you are looking for a technical challenge, comparable to the Lowveld Croc, mixed with the Ithala, we have it right here on our doorstep. The water is clean, the river is challenging, and the valley is wild and beautiful. The weekend of the 17/18 October sees this years 2 day Dam to Dam taking place; this is a 2 man relay where on day 1 you paddle a K2 from Albert Falls ending at Cumberland nature reserve, which is a further 7 km downstream of Thornvale. The day culminates in a couple of testy but enjoyable (as long as you stay in the boat) rapids – Double-drop and the Cataract. Day 2 is the K1 day where the pairs paddle together for the 34 kms to Nagle dam. (There have been some who have done it in K2’s, but it really is not a good idea …) This is a B+ to A stretch of river, the bulk of which is through a gorge with only a couple of places with road access. The remoteness adds to the allure of the river – there is virtually no flat water involved, but as with the Ithala, due to the technically testing river, there is little opportunity to enjoy the magnificent scenery, with the bulk of the time negotiating long boulder gardens, with maybe 8 or 9 substantial rapids thrown in for good measure. On November 1st there is the Table Mountain race, which returns to the lower half of the 2nd day of Dam– to-Dam. As it is a bit more accessible it is paddled a bit more often; it is slighty less technical, and your seconds can get 4 kms downstream of the start THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA 39
IMAGEs: Jan De Neef
and cheer on the 50% who manage to shoot the Waterfall successfully, before they drive out the way they came, to wait for their paddlers 15 kms downstream at the Nagle Dam weir and rapid, where there is a similar attrition rate. In between the paddlers will enjoy an unforgettable 40 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
technical paddle through a pristeen river valley. (Details and video coverage of this race are available on myriver.co.za) These races are generally only possible due to the efforts of a small group of dedicated organisers; primarily John Oliver,
who has also done a magnificent job of negotiating the minefield of regulations around Covid19 to get races going again, and Kevin Trodd, who has been quietly chipping away behind the scenes to facilitate the water releases that allow us to enjoy this river.
Borneo Paddle Monkeys Stand Up Paddling in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Facebook: Borneo Paddle Monkeys www.borneopaddlemonkeys.com 42 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
Instagram: borneopaddlemonkeys Contact us at email@example.com
TREE-tastrophe tracy-lee galloway
Lockdown brought a whole new meaning to life when it was declared. Too many paddlers did not have a dam, a swimming pool or a river beside them. It was devastating, to say the least. Boats were dry for days and days. Albeit they did get repaired. This was our family’s reality. So when the time came that we were allowed back on the river, our family were the first to trip down the Upper Umgeni. It was to be a family fun-filled day out on the river. We were super excited. It was my father-in-law, Terry, in a K1; my husband, Terence, and step-son, Tate, in a K2; step-daughter, Tori, in a k1 and myself in a K1. The Upper Umgeni is always an enjoyable day out. It did not disappoint. It was a glorious day. The water level was around eight cumecs. The birds were out chirping and the fish were even jumping. We hit two tree blocks along the way. This was understandable after the lockdown. There had been no human activity on the river for over 100 days. One was small and easily avoidable. The other at S-Bend made us portage around it. The other caught us by surprise as it
was around a corner just before Rob’s Log. Terry got caught and fell out. Tori got caught but Terence jumped out his boat to grab Tori which resulted in Tate swimming. I was not so fortunate. I was hugging the corner thus, I hit the tree block head-on. My boat left me and I went under the water. My arms grabbed the tree for dear life. I had water rushing over my face and thoughts of doom. The immense force of the water over my face did not make me panic, though. That is the benefit of doing a safety course with Rob Hill. I knew that I had to pull my head out to survive. So what possibly felt and looked like a slow-motion picture was probably a threesecond movie. I found the almighty strength to pull my head out of the water. Who knows where that strength came from? Thank goodness for strong paddling arms! I was facing downstream and could see Terence rescuing his children. I shouted at him. “If you don’t come now, I am going to go! I am going to drown! Hurry!” Of course, he had to ensure his children were safe. Then he rushed towards me. All the time, I was imploring to him to hurry up as my arms were getting
weaker and weaker. I was slipping further and further. If I went under I would be trapped and I would surely drown. I did not want to feel that water over my face again. Then all of a sudden, I felt this strong pull on my lifejacket. I was saved. Over! It was not over. Our boats and paddles were down the river. So it was time to “cocktail” with two children to recover the boats. I was surprised at how calm a 14yr old and 10yr old could be in such dire straits. Tori lost her takkie and water bottle. I lost the legendary cowgirl that I had done two Dusis with. Thank goodness that was all that was lost. In hindsight, tree blocks were inevitable after the lockdown. Never underestimate a tree block. Please ensure you go on a safety course so that you know what to do in an emergency. I am grateful to my paddling buddies who went the next weekend to cut the tree blocks away. I am in awe of our paddling community and the strength of friendship and camaraderie. Tori and Tate are resilient children. They have paddled again. I have paddled passed “Tracy’s Log” a few times now.
Devising tactics for an event
IMAGE Anthony Grote
Devising tactics is a crucial task, because you need to compete according to a realistic and workable plan. This is essential homework that has to be undertaken in advance of race day, taking your physical preparedness and competencies into account. Even if physically and mentally robust, you have to apply intellect to how you race.Your competitive hopes can soon evaporate if you remain onedimensional, not adapting to your abilities and those of rivals. Tactics influence the position you stand on the podium or if you stand on it at all. A strategy needs to be infinitely more sophisticated than just staying with the lead bunch, conserving energy, then sprinting across the line ahead of the pack at the finish. An elite athlete will downplay his or her tactics, giving standard answers to questions relating to the event. He or she might say that they will just pitch up at the start and see how the race unfolds, but will always have a detailed plan in mind.
something in reserve to cross the line with a final sprint. For a decent performance, tactics should include: • where to start and how hard to start • who to paddle with and for how long • which rivals to mark • the bunches to keep with • when to break away for the finish • how hard you can sprint at the finish Tactics need to take practicality and safety into account, dictating the lines to follow. Don’t take risks that place you at a disadvantage. Taking a shortcut through a kelp bed could result in getting tangled up, perhaps with weed on the rudder.
Considering your competencies
Work out how to use your strengths to your advantage, while you can. If you are a downwind specialist and Being comprehensive, the sea is relatively flat, adjust your but flexible approach according to what you Tactics demand a specific mental can manage. Also take cognisance approach. With competent of where you are in your paddling competition, you have to race career; you may no longer be the smart rather than embrace the quickest individual on the water. notion that only the strongest and Your training regime and seasonal quickest paddlers have a chance to cycle should influence your tactics. pull off a win. Devising a winning While following a program that tactic involves a complex mix of involves speed, it is not practical factors. Being only able to compete to devise a tactic that relies on in a predictable way significantly endurance. A long flat, energy diminishes your options. absorbing activity is a significantly Tactics need to cover the full different proposition to doing distance, from the start, what you do downwind. on the course, and how to approach You might have a teammate to the finish. The key is balancing your work with and this can be worth pace with the rate at which you incorporating into your tactics. He or expect to consume energy. It means she will have different competencies being favourably placed and having 48 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
to you, but anything you can do to optimise using your energy and cover extra distance will be to your advantage. With a teammate, arrange in advance how to work together rather than just going about it randomly; otherwise you will not gain the potential benefit.
Being reactive or proactive Determine if your tactics should be reactive or proactive, which has to align with your personality, the way you usually go about your paddling activities. Being reactive means responding to a rival’s actions, whereas proactive means setting the pace and dominating the proceedings. Being proactive necessitates being at the top of your game, introducing some element of risk to hold onto an advantage.You have to be sure of your ability, being the front-runner. You might choose to play a conservative, waiting game on one sector, then break away from the pack on another. As the course unfolds and you fatigue, your tactical options become fewer with lesser boat speed and as rivals begin to mount more determined charges.
SURFSKI KNOW-HOW Expand your know-how by reading books in the SURFSKI series, which contain practical and easy-tounderstand reference material on the sport. The content is especially applicable to individuals from disciplines such as lifesaving, river canoeing and adventure sports that seek the transition to surfski.
IMAGES Bertie Baard
GCU Marathon Champs The Gauteng Canoe Union Marathon Championships event was hosted by Victoria Lake Canoe Club at Germiston Lake over a sunny enjoyable weekend on Saturday and Sunday 19/20 September 2020 with 50 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
Guppies and K1’s on Saturday, and K2’s on Sunday. The team will go on to represent the province at the SA Marathon Champs in October at St Francis Bay. The event was an astounding success
The guppies and K1’s were raced in near perfect conditions making for some enjoyable racing but on Sunday gusty winds whipped up huge waves in a corner of the dam during the K2 event which resulted
in a few swamped withdrawals, but all in all a great weekend of superb racing across all ages! A large number of paddlers covering the entire age spectrum had been
training doing the Virtual Berg challenge in the month previous so surprisingly despite lockdown, our paddlers in all age groups were actually fit and ready for the challenge at GCU Marathons!
The course distances at the race for K1â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and guppies on Saturday 19 September 2020, were as follows: With U8 and U10 only finishing 1 lap of 3km with no portages, while THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA 51
Under 12 completed 2 laps i.e. 6km race, with no portages, while the following age groups distances are noted below - with all required to do the portage on every lap after Lap 2: U14’s race distance was 12.5km U16’s raced 15.5km U18 and older race distances were 21.5km, while the Great Grand Masters race was 18.5km with no portages.
junior highlights There are a number of really promising guppies and juniors that entered the marathons for the first time and a huge thanks goes out to the coaches and support crew at SCARC for getting such a large crew of female paddlers. Gauteng was the only province to register an U8 female Axilia Mabhekete from the Academy of Canoe Development who finished in a time of 0:26. FLCC girls were the two U10 finishers - Reatlegile Maphanga and Chane Steyn - another tight close race in 0:22:12 and 0:22:32 The only U12 female finisher was from SCARC - Juliet Mzibeli finished in 0:45. The U10 boys race had three finishers - Daniel Shalala and Joshua Friedericksen (DABS) and while Callum Baird all the way from the Lowveld canoe Club, finished 3rd. Very close racing indeed in such a young age group.
Women’s Race In the Women’s K1 races, the only U18 to compete was Alexa Godden (Dabs) in 2:07, while Esti van Tonder (from the Academy of Canoe Development at Roodeplaat,
coming out of a big endurance block in preparation for Tokyo 2020/21 trials) relished the opportunity to race again , and blitzed home in a time of 1:48. Jodie Dreyer was the only Vet participant (Dabs) in 2:45 and Sarah Evans, the only Sub masters woman (Dabs) in 2:14 - well done to all competitors!
MEN’s Race The Men’s races saw much more competition - The U18 race was led by Ross Leslie, Jack Edmonds and Connor Erwee (the first two being Michaelhouse paddlers from KNCU, while Erwee is a member at Dabs) in times of 1:43, 1:44, and 1 :46 adding to the excitement and challenge! The GCU members top three would then include Harry Edgar (Dabs) in 1:59, and Tshephang Mashakana from Academy of Canoe Development in 1:49, and 2:20. In the U23 race, Bradley Boulle, Benjamin Mntonintshi and Wongama Makasi from Dabs, SCARC, SCARC respectively finished in 1:41, 1:46 and 1:49, while the SENIOR racers Clinton Cook showed that he is in great form coming out of Lockdown taking the win from Michael-John Robb (both from Dabs) whose times were clocked at 1:38 and 1:46. On Sunday 20 September the K2 racers participated in the choppy windy conditions with the following results: Women first, All SCARC Women! Thumbs up to these hardworking women! Super to see such effort and dedication in these age groups showing us how it should be done! Under 14 Women 1. Lungile Mahwayi with Lesedi Bobo, 2. Unathi Njiyela with Okuhle
Jokozela - !! The U16 Women 1. Thembelilihle Jokozela and Tinyiko Mahwayi 2. Snethemba Ntombela with Chwayita Fanteni 3. Sibngile Rengqe and Amanda Ngamlana The U14 Men 1. Jess Webber with Bruno Cochcrane (Dabs) 2. Owethu Duna an Sinelihle Jiza (Scarc) 3. Sikhanyisele Dekeda and Nkokhona Makasi (Scarc) The U16 Men 1. Theo Dryer and with Joshua Gillespie (Dabs/Crocs) 2. Bert Matruje and Aphiwe Makhoba (JCC) 3. Siyamthanda Qumbelo and Phikela Ngamlana (SCARC) The U18 Men 1. Ross Leslie with Chase Leisegang (Michaelhouse team) 2. Nicholas Erwee and Harry Edgar (DABS) 3. Luke Salmon and Connor Erwee (DABS) The U23 entrants Wongama Makasi and Benjamin Mntonintshi (SCARC) finished in 1:46. Clocking the best time of the day in the Senior Age Category race, Wayne Jacobs and Clinton Cook (Dabs) finished in 1:37, followed by Jack Edmonds and Michael John Robb (Mic/Dabs) in 1:43. The Sub Veterans team were represented by Ryno Armdorf and
Robert Hamer (Scarc/VLC) in 2:06, and the Veteran race paddlers were Mark Garden/Kelvin Byres (DABS), Roy Clegg/Elton du Preez (VLC/ CENT) and Shaun Maphanga with Douw Kruger (FLCC) with their times recorded as: 1:47, 1:59, 2:10. While the Sub Masters racers were Dave Hamilton-Brown and Luke
Symons, in 1:44! followed by Roger Stubbs and Matthew Ballenden (Dabs), in a time of 1:49! The Masters were Pieter Engelbrecht/ Michael Stewart (Cen/ERK), and Franz Lottering with Vallon Kupferberg (ERK) with another excellent time result in 1:43, and 2:03.
The Grand Master race brought in Theo Smit and Pierre van der Merwe (Centurion) and Chris Visser with Lloyde Hanson (DABS) - their times were:1:46, 1:52! The Great Grand Master finishers were John Rowan and Franz Fischer (ERK/VLC) in 2:12.
SA Marathons 2020 If the provincial trails are anything to go by we are in for a monumental two days of racing at this year’s SA Marathons in St Francis on the 11 and 12 October. Just a glance over the results sheets from the provinces reveals some very interesting results. In Gauteng Clinton Cook stole the senior men’s show by nearly 10 minutes paddling at high altitude. When he is down on the coast his is going to be formidable with more air in his lungs. While on the topic of being close to the sea, did you see the titanic struggle between up and coming U23 star Uli Hart and the super tenacious Nicky Notten for first place in the WCCU senior trials? Hart got the better of Notten by 0.1 of a second putting surfski champ Kenny Rice 56 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
in to third place. In 2019 Notten tried everything to get to China after McGregor was forced to retire due to ill health. He unfortunately could not get it right and I sure will be determined to finish in the top two in order to make his position in the team stick this time. In KZN it was the much talked about pair of Hamish Lovemore and Hank McGregor that came charging home leaving this year’s Dusi star Khumbulani Nzimande to paddle in just over ten minutes later to claim the 3rd step on the podium. In the senior women’s race the serious money must be on the pair of Jenna Ward and Bridgitte Hartley from KZN. Both seasoned marathon competitors having represented South Africa numerous
times. The huge surprise and definite wild card in the mix must come from sprint queen Esti Van Tonder from Gauteng.Van Tonder has had her head down and been focusing on qualifying for Tokyo 2020 (now Tokyo 2021) so we know that she has sprint after sprint wound up in those arms of hers and will not be scared to burn a few matches early on in the race to keep her competitors on their toes. The million dollar question will be how fast her transitions are. Both of her competitors are lightning fast in the transitions and shown again and again that they can run effortlessly with a K1. Ward and Hartley will need to make the portages count in order to get a gap on Van Tonder who will undoubtedly be nipping at their heels. While the number of
women competing at the U23, snr and SV level is cause for concern the coaches at SCARC (GAU) should be applauded for the brilliant work they are doing in encouraging young girls to participate at marathons with five doubles teams entering U14 and U16. The course itself it going to be all about tactics and watching the tide as the paddlers race around the St
Francis marina. There are a number of tight turns on the course, add to that being potentially squeezed by bridge pillars and being stranded on a sand bank on the outgoing tide and one has the receipt for a thinking paddlers race. For example being caught on the outside of turn three will earn paddlers a lot of work to do to catch the inside paddlers before the next turn.
Lastly who can forget when the lighter paddlers opted to paddle the portage when the incoming tide flooded the portage sandbank? One thing is certain, if you are lucky enough to be able to make your way to St Francis make sure that you get a good seat where you can see some of the action in the canals and if possible the portage area. THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA 57
PETE MARLIN MEMORIAL SURFSKI RACE Pete Marlin was a charismatic, high energy free spirit who loved wild places and adventures which he found aplenty in the rivers and seas of the rugged and magnificent coastline of the Eastern Cape. He went to school at Queens College arguably one of the best rugby schools at that time in the country. He qualified as a civil engineer at Natal University and there after moved to East London. He joined a small of small group of intrepid, pioneering kayakers and paddlers who began to explore every river that could be paddled in the Eastern 58 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
Cape. Peteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s free spirit and love for adventure endeared him to a beautiful young teacher, Sheryle whom he married. Sheryle is now married to another paddling legend and renowned fisherman Peter Meyer. In 1989 the small paddling community, family and friends from around the country were shocked by the tragic news that Pete had lost his life whilst paddling on the Umkomaas which derives its name from a zulu legend and is known as the river of chiefs and the place of cows. This tragic event sowed the seeds for a race in memory of Pete and was organized by his band of fellow paddlers. This race has become an iconic event on the surfski calendar in South Africa. It has grown exponentially drawing paddlers from around the country and internationally. It has hosted the South African surfski champs three times and been part of the ICF
world surfski series. Tribute is paid to another popular paddler, Mark Feather, who tragically lost his life and is sorely missed by all paddlers, this surfski race thus holds special sentiment to many who paddle! The race is generally a 22km course from Yellow Sands, East of East London, to the Nahoon or Orient beach subject to weather conditions. Past winners have included Bevan Manson, Richard von Wilderman, Dawid Mocke, Matt Bouman, Barry Lewin, Grant van der Walt, Nikki Mocke, Nikki Birkett, Hank McGregor, Michelle Burn, Jasper Mocke, Hayley Nixon and Nicholas Notten. Every paddler who has had the privilege of participating in the race and been exposed to this exquisitely beautiful coastline, has gone away with incredibly rich memories of a friendly, welcoming, hospitable
community, whom gladly open up their homes to host paddlers from out of town! This event has been made possible by the support of incredible, generous sponsors namely: Hansa and Powerade, SNG Grant Thornton, Fenn, Kia, and last but not least our Anchor sponsor DISCHEM. The professionalism and organization of the race has been a result of the commitment and leadership of Charl and Bernice van Wyk and their team, who are primarily surfski paddlers themselves, passionate about the sport of surfski and its future growth!
and Western Cape paddlers!! The Pete Marlin Surfski Race wishes all surfski paddlers well and look forward to seeing you all again in 2021 for the most exciting weekend of racingâ&#x20AC;Śbigger and better than ever before!
We would like to thank the Transvaal Navy paddlers from Gauteng, who make the trip down to East London annually and bring with them an abundance of banter and camaraderie, as well as fellow Natal paddlers; and both Eastern THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA 59
Paddling down the singing canyon JOHN LEE
Two billion years of geological activity has formed the Grand Canyon of the Arizona desert and for all this time the mighty Colorado River has patiently forged a chasm a mile deep in its relentless drive towards the sea. Sheer cliffs plunge to the canyon floor and constrict the might of the surging Colorado River, choking its waters, whipping them into a frenzy of mad foaming rapids, consuming whirlpools and boiling eddies. This is the ultimate challenge in whitewater kayaking and rafting drew the largest kayaking expedition in history to Arizona State, USA. Sixteen South African kayakers. Led by Springbok Chris Greeff and world renowned river guide, Cully Erdman, launched their multicoloured plastic kayaks at Lee’s 60 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
Ferry in July this year. Supported by five large inflatable rafts crewed by another 12 South Africans, they faced 380 kilometres of the world’s biggest white-water on a flooded river. The Colorado River maintains an effortless ten kilometres an hour flow, its swift icy waters rarely calm. Minor rapids boast two metre leaping waves and occur with alarming regularity. Between these mad, foaming stretches of water the impatient river is punctuated by huge whirlpools and eddies that rush upstream, their pace matching that of the adjacent current. Soon after the expedition had launched, Peter Swanepoel’s kayak was pitched vertically in a trough and then engulfed by a huge whirlpool, both kayak and paddler
disappearing completely beneath the boiling surface. A frantic Felix Unite searched for his companion and finally discovered him as he reappeared 15 metres downstream, shocked and gasping for breath, clutching at Felix’s craft for support. The huge river has issued the first of many warnings and was to earn the respect of the entire expedition. After a long harsh day on the river, bodies roasted by the merciless Arizona desert sun, battered by relentless white-water, the evening sun settled rapidly on the distant canyon rim. As dark shadows lengthened softening the rugged cliffs, the welcome odour of Dutch oven cooking wafted gently on the twilight breeze. Tranquillity descended on the campsite as each expedition member reflected on the
events of yet another action packed day. A boatman’s cry of “grubs up” would later summon the tired party to the camp kitchen and a fervent discussion of the days rapids, rescues and swims would shatter the canyon solitude. Sing-songs and river tales soon forged a close-knit group, a critical factor to ensure the success of such and expedition.
A nervous scouting party studied the route from the top of massive boulders lining the bank. The rafts provided some breath-taking moments. Watching their headlong passage, it seemed impossible that the dancing rubber craft could avoid crashing in to the sheer canyon walls.
Later, as the glowing embers died, the group would disperse to lie beneath the sparkling desert stars, each to absorb one of nature’s supreme experiences and to steel themselves for the challenge for the day ahead.
Yet, as the boatmen strained at their bucking oars, the foaming water leaping against the cliffs rebounded in a crushing lateral wave, thrashing the rafts back in to midcurrent, their sterns narrowly avoiding the gaping, threshing hole behind the standing waves.
Rated 10 on the scale, Crystal Rapid soon dominated all conversation as the trip progressed.
The drenched occupants, swamped by tons of water, bailed frantically,
while screaming with adrenalincharged delight. Felix Unite committed himself to the daunting run. Dwarfed by the initial three metre wave, he was buried by a mass of foaming water as the crest crashed on to his bright yellow helmet. He emerged unscratched, to the cheers of the party lining the banks and a succession of spectacular runs and some more spectacular swims, followed. On two occasions the expedition narrowly avoided disaster. Effervescent, tireless Mick Whitehead endured the sight of the acrobatic kayaks for only a few days. Characteristically he borrowed one THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA 61
of the kayaks and soon capsized in midstream. The swirling torrent carried him and his rescuer into a cave at the foot of the canyon walls. A vicious whirlpool filled the cave and sucked him beneath the spinning kayak on four occasions, ripping his shoes from his feet and then contemptuously spat him back into mid current. He was pulled from the river a kilometre downstream and ironically his shoes were later recovered in different eddies. Wendy Walwyn, the only girl kayaker, capsized near Tuna Falls Rapid and was rescued on the brink of a huge hole behind Richard Nixon rock, a kilometre downstream. A raft managed to reach her and conveyed her to safety while her rescuer had to paddle his kayak upstream to skirt the fearsome obstacle. The tranquillity of Shinimo Creek Falls, it cascading waters forming a lace curtain of white above the Colorado’s silt-laden, apricot waves, did little to erase the memory of Wendy’s narrow escape. Throughout the journey, side hikes up lateral canyons provided expedition members with a wealth of fauna, flora and geological mysteries to study, each contained in the canyons unique mircowold. Natures timeless chasms, removed from the deafening roar of whitewater, gave one a new appreciation of the isolation and vastness of the area. Six kilometres inside Tapeats Creek hikers discovered the source of Thunder River where an arching torrent of sparkling water gushes from the gaping cave 1000 metres above the canyon floor, creating a lush forest below. 62 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
Havasu Creek, a green oasis of trees and shrubs, contrasted with the arid main canyon which is almost devoid of vegetation. Glorious pink and yellow hues of delicate blossoms adorning a variety of spiny cacti provided colourful gauntlet to Beaver Falls. Cully Erdman, Bridgette Borton and Felix Unite leapt 20 metres in to the aquamarine water below, surfacing behind a curtain of descending water. From these peaceful sanctuaries the hikers returned to their rafts and kayaks to the rush of the river in the main canyon, ready to pit their strength and skill against the violence of the awesome Colorado River once again. The monstrous Lava Falls Rapid stood between the expedition and success, as the end of the canyon approached. The air was charged with expectancy and foreboding the night before the party reached the volcanically formed rapid. Someone decided that the evening drizzle was not rain, but spray from Lava Falls five kilometres downstream. Similar timely humour characterized the entire trip. Lava Falls undoubtedly deserves it rating of 10. An immense hole virtually covers the approach, and a narrow tongue of turbulent water skirts the hole near the left bank. Having watched the ‘heavies’ (Mick Whitehead, Dave Bruce, Rodney Park and Geoff Myburgh) power the big raft through Crystal Rapid, the ‘Amazons’, the female crew, thundered expertly through sheets of spray and frothing water, their raft bucking into the safety of and eddy downstream. Most of the kayakers chose to follow the safer route behind the rafts while Cully Erdman flawlessly
led five paddlers down the “hairy” route to the right of the hole. Four crushing 2½ metre waves immersed the paddlers as they fought to remain upright, their gleaming helmets disappearing beneath haystack-like waves, the vivid kayaks dancing on top of exploding walls of water. Ryan Anderson misjudged his approach and the rivers invisible tentacles pulled him in to the big hole. He emerged 50 metres downstream after his kayak and paddle had reappeared and finally crawled on to the bank, bruised and shaken. He was immediately appointed captain of the expedition swimming team, the party’s inherent humour again tempering the gravity of the dangerous situation. The might of the Colorado River is harnessed by the Boulder Dam and its energy drained by man forms Lake Mead. A vast docile expanse of shimmering water. Into these tranquil waters the expedition travelled with mixed emotions. Each member left with a sense of victory, yet with an overriding felling of respect, awe and humility. The concluding thoughts in the journal by Major John Wesley Powell came to mind as the expedition reached its end: “Now the danger is over, now the toil has ceased, now the gloom has disappeared, now the firmament is bounded only by the horizon, and what a vast expanse of constellations can be seen! The river rolls by us in silent majesty; the quiet of the campsite is sweet; our joy is ecstasy.We sit until long after midnight talking of the Grand Canyon, talking of home.”
IMAGE dusi.co.za 64 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
South Africa punches above its weight on the world stage in many different environments: sport, technology, medical and more. Paddling is no exception. Over the past seven decades, many South African paddlers have made their mark outside SA’s borders. Early pioneers like Dr Ian Player and Prof Willem van Riet may not have competed at the highest level internationally, but their river expeditions and multiple wins of long endurance river races put them right up there with the best of the best from other parts of the world. Even more importantly, both Player and Van Riet made their mark internationally as conservationists. The next generation of paddlers had more opportunity to travel and compete abroad, enabling kayakers like Tim Biggs and Jerome Truran to take the adventurous spirit of the early pioneers to a different level. They competed at the highest level and also undertook major expeditions, including some serious first descents abroad. In the 80s and 90s, paddling sports diversified and paddlers began to specialise. While this happened worldwide, South Africa took a slightly different route as a result of its focus on river marathons. Nonetheless, numerous paddlers continued to put SA on the world map. It is a difficult task to name every South African paddler that made a name for themselves over the seas, but I would like to mention the paddlers who really stand out for me. This is by no means the definite list of top SA paddlers, but rather a list of paddlers that, in my very subjective opinion, have been most successful in establishing a 66 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
reputation for South Africa on the world stage.
of the Amazon River and early waterfall records.
Paddlers like Lee McGregor, who first made his name as swimmer and later as surfski paddler. The Chalupski family, with Oscar being the most well-known outside the borders of our country.
What is maybe less well-known is the impact that South African manufacturers are having across the globe. A number of manufacturers successfully export their products and hold a reputation for producing top-quality craft and great designs.
Robbie Herreveld and the late Mark Perrow, two of the most talented all-round paddlers this country has ever seen, and who could have achieved even more with better international exposure. Martin Dreyer took over the mantle from Graeme-Pope Ellis on the Dusi, but also made a serious name for himself as adventure racer on the world stage. Hank McGregor, Dawid and Jasper Mocke are all tough as nails and highly competitive in international races. Sprinters Bridgitte Hartley and Chrisjan Coetzee are top contenders in any race they enter. On the whitewater side, Corran Addison and Steve Fisher are household names all around the world as top competitors and inventors of freestyle moves. The late Hendri Coetzee is considered to be one of the greatest expedition paddlers in history. Others who made a name for themselves as competitors and also expedition paddlers are Andrew Kellett, Shane Raw, Ross O’Donoghue and the late Graeme Anderson. As whitewater guides and safety experts, few can hold a candle to Stan Ricketts, Jakes Saaiman and Jane Dicey. South African born Mike Horn, highly acclaimed adventurer who resides in Switzerland, is not a paddler, but he is highly revered in the riverboarding/hydrospeeding community for his solo descent
Fenn Kayaks in East London has been exporting surfskis for two decades, and their crafts are well regarded in many parts of the world. Carbonology Sport in Porth Elizabeth is a younger company but no less successful with their surfski exports. Then, of course, there is Epic Kayaks, a USA company with strong South African roots, which is considered by many to be the world’s premier surfski brand. On the fishing ski side, Stealth Kayaks in Durban has a solid reputation in Australia and they are making in-roads in the USA and Europe. Racing kayak manufacturers have taken a hit in recent years with the local river-racing market contracting, but Knysna Racing Kayaks are exporting their quality craft with great success. Mocke Paddling Gear and Orka Paddles, both based in Cape Town, are flying the SA flag with their innovative and high-quality gear. My own new brand of paddles and other paddling-related gear, under the brand CEKR Gear, is not yet officially launched and I already have a demand from international distributors. South African-born Corran Addison, who is based in Canada, has been at the forefront of whitewater and SUP development for three decades already. His latest venture, Soul Watercraft, is already taking the North American whitewater market
by storm. Finally, I have to blow my own trumpet a little. My first kayak company, Fluid Kayaks, was quite an established player in the international world of whitewater kayaking, with a reputation for innovation back in the day when I drove R&D. My new kayak company,Vagabond Kayaks, is only two-years old, and already we are making waves in all the main markets overseas, with my latest designs considered to be the most innovative recreational kayaks on the market. My reputation for making quality craft has also resulted in a number of international kayaking brands moving production of their kayaks to our factory.
This article is not so much about bragging about our collective efforts, as paddlers and manufacturers, as it is about highlighting the fascinating fact that our impact on the international paddling world is entirely disproportionate to the number of paddlers in this country. There are only a few thousand river racing and surfski paddlers in the country, and just a few hundred whitewater kayakers. Comparing the number of active paddlers in this country to that of most countries in Europe, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, and many others, South Africa should be a non-entity in the international world of paddling.Yet our paddlers and manufacturers command respect in all corners of
the world. Why is that? How can such a small pool produce such a big impact? Is it the result of the years of isolation that forced us to think outside the box as it did in many other fields? Is it the result of a general ‘can do’ mentality, or a ‘boldly go where no one has gone before’ attitude? I do not know what the answer is, but I think that South African paddlers in general do not realise how unique our situation is, and how fortunate we are to have access to this wealth of knowledge and expertise as well as worldclass kayaks and gear right on our doorstep. Our legacy on the world stage is highly improbable, yet undisputable.
No-Bake Chocolate Covered Energy Balls KRISTEN THOMAS
My goal was to creats a ball that was not too sweet, had decent nutirent content, with fibre without compromising taste
DRY Ingredients 1& 1/2 cup oats 6 TBSP organic cocunet powder 1/4 cup raw sunflower seed meal 1/4 cup plain or vanilla protein powder
liquid Ingredients 2/3 cup nut butter (almond, sunflower or peanut butter) 1/2 cup date syrup (substitutes: honey, agave or maple syrup)
COATING 1 bar (14g) of dark chocolate or melting chocolate of choice.
1. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. 2. Combile all liquid ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. 3. Combine dry and liquid ingredients and mix thoroughly. 4. Form into a large ball. Place in the fridge for about 30 - 60 minutes to allow douhg to firm up. 5. Once set, take out of the fridge and form into individual balls as best as you can.You might need to press them into a ball shape rather than roll them, or they will crumble. When using syrup it makes it harder to form a perfect ball, but they do stay put after being in the fridge. 6. Put balls back into the fridge. 7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 8. Melt chocolate in the microwave, do not overcook. 9, Remove the balls from the fridge and use two utensils to dip each ball into the chocolate. Once coated, transfer to the cookie sheet. 10. Transfer all to the fridge to set for about 20 minutes. 11. ENJOY! Makes up to 30 balls. instagram @ ktbefitbewell247 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA 69
Radar & Evinrude You all know the story of the tortoise and the hare…and how it applies to canoeing. Start slowly, be consistent and finish strong. There is absolutely no point in coming out of the blocks like scalded cat at the start of a long distance race. Well that’s the line of patter I was trying on Evinrude as we drove to our provincial marathon champs, ready for the K2 ballies age group race. Evinrude was fidgety. Part of his 70 THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA
moustache had been crinkled (something to do with a mate forcing him to down a flaming Sambucca the night before) and he smelt like he had slept in a veld fire.
But most of all he had been slow out of the blocks to get back to training once Canoeing SA had pulled the rabbit out of the hat and arranged our sport to be one of the first back. It had been raining and we got to the venue to find it cold, overcast
but thankfully windless. We had to go through the Covid protocols and sign in, sanitise and have temperatures taken with the popgun. “I swear she says everyone has a temperature of 35.9” muttered Evinrude “Bet you that temperature gun was made in Wuhan as well.”
There was a pretty decent field of vets and masters K2s entered. As we unloaded our trusty old Foxbat, last used on the Fish, there were quite a few crews swanning around in their SA gear from previous
Masters Cups, and boats that had Worlds stickers on. One of them was a pair that we had a history with. Somehow we often land up in the same batches together, and at the last Dusi they had managed to beat us. This was thanks to a dastardly tactic instructing their seconds not to help us with juice at the top of Inanda dam when they heard we had run our juice and our seconds would not be there. So it’s a bit like the mood between the EFF and the DA in parliament when we get dumped in the same batch together. Suddenly our plans for a chilled paddle that would double as badly needed training went out of the window and Evinrude was pawing at the ground like a bull waiting in a pen at rodeo. After the usual repetition of “Get back! Get back!” at the start, we were off. Our Foxie was quite conspicuous in a batch that was mostly Nelo and Eagle-type boats with fancy understern rudders. We still had tape on the nose from connecting the bridge at Keith’s Flyover. Evinrude was frothing. I looked back over my shoulder as we produced by far our most aggressive start in our twenty year partnership, and I heard him start singing the guitar intro to “Eye of the Tiger” in time with each paddle stroke. We were in the same bunch as our
new arch enemies as we came into the first portage. We were forced to wait as we were at the back of the batch and noticed that they were super careful about taking their Nelo Vanquish K2 out so that they didn’t touch the rudder, handling it like a porcelain doll. That’s when Evinrude hatched the plot. it was clear they wanted to get to each portage first so that they had a full jetty length to get out and gingerly lift their Nelo out of the water. We loitered on the diamond the whole of the next lap. One of the lawyers (there were quite a few of them in our bunch) advised that our lack of interest in taking up the pull was “actionable”. But as we came into the next portage Binky and Slinky our enemies turned on the taps to get to the jetty first and Evinrude roared like a lion that had its nuts caught in an electric fence and surged ahead. We came inside them and took up the entire length of jetty that Slinky and Binky had been eyeing and then took our time to get out while they lost their minds. Evinrude was so pleased with himself. This had broken up the bunch and two boats much faster than us got away, then it was us and way back Slinky and Binky. That was fine according to Evinrude, as long as we beat them.
Budd onto the jetty, paddle in hand. And the rudder dropped clean off the back of our boat. There is history here. Our rudder had been mauled on the Fish and going over Cradock weir the blade had bent 90 degrees. We had to spend fifteen minutes on the bank straightening it, and when it was ready to go back in we had lost the nut, bolt and spacer that goes into the rudder assembly. In typical Cradock fashion everyone rallied round to help. Someone had an old lawnmower handle bolt. Someone else had a wingnut. It didn’t quite fit but it was good enough. And we had it to the finish. That is what had fallen apart now and the rudder blade made pretty bubbles as it sank into the murky brown water at the jetty take-out. “Bother, said Pooh!” yelled Evinrude – or something to that effect, and he leapt into the deep water to try and find the rudder. He was still there as Slinky and Binkie came into the portage looking very pleased with themselves and cantered away. We came last. Thank goodness Covid meant there was no prizegiving or medal ceremonies because Evinrude would have had to be restrained when Slinky and Binkie got onto the podium to get their medals.
We were on our own coming into the last portage, having seen Slinky and Binky at the run-can on their own doing their best to catch up. There was a fat grin on his face as we pulled into the jetty alone. I hopped out nimbly. As I do. Evinrude actually stood up in the back cockpit and leapt like a young Zola THEPADDLEMAG.CO.ZA 71