50 Years of Umko 1966 - 2016 1966 - 2016 - Page 11

Introduction This book came about because stories should be told. The story that prompted this one was Charles Mason’s story, but in typical Charles fashion when I first met with him to encourage him to get his story ‘on paper’, he said “Well, this is very opportune, you know. Next year is the 50th Umko” and proceeded to turn the focus less on himself and his amazing paddling, organising and mentoring career and more on the river and race that he loves. So this book has in mind the Umkomaas River and Valley, the downstream journeys, some of which are races, ‘The Umko’ race itself and then every paddler who has paddled on the river; And also - no, especially - those paddling and non-paddling Umko stalwarts who made - and still make - the race happen by their endeavours on the riverbank. And all their fun times and their lies. Uh, stories. The low focus in the book on “who won” is a conscious decision. We all won, and though I do appreciate the intense drama of those who are furthest downstream at any one time (the Umko is after all a race, as Chris Wade reminds us!), to list fifty neck-and-neck battles in sequence would have intruded into Hansa, Kahlua and Old Buck drinking time! For a true Umko winner’s approach, read Charles the first winner, Hank McGregor the last winner and all the other winner’s contributions. A book is static the minute it is printed, but the website can be kept alive and fixed and improved with results, stats, analyses and more stories. All winners and would-be winners can tell your stories there. KCC would love to have them. Make sure you have a personal page at theumko.com. If you have a better picture for a story (or story for a picture) we will gladly fix that on the website. This is a fun record of some wonderful adventures enthusiastically told. Its not that paddlers exaggerate - they just remember big. Many’s the paddler who assured me they paddled from Hella Hella to the sea outside the 1969 to 1973 “Long Four”. So there will be mistakes. If we got it all right much campfire debate would be stifled and we wouldn’t want that! To be taken with a pinch of salt and enjoyed. Then get out there and trip the Umko. Acknowledgements The Kingfisher Canoe Club 'heavies', as Charles calls officials (forgetting he's one), are gratefully acknowledged for showing enthusiasm for the project from day one. Thank you Rob Davey, Travis Wilkinson, Ross Poacher, Terry Drummond and Ernie Alder for supporting and for drumming up support for a fun record of this amazing race which hopefully will become a permanent web presence and be added to annually. Charles Mason has obviously been the real heavy here - providing rich material and scrutinising, vetting and editing. In a significant way this is his river and his race! Rob Davey is the new Mr Umko and has been the biggest supporter of getting the book published. Hugh Bland, Ernie Alder, Geoff Caruth, Allie Peter. Kelway Tanner and Andre Hawarden are also stalwarts and veterans and they have provided encouragement, programs, photos, cartoons, maps, stories, Canews, nicknames and beers. Everybody else who sent in or told me their stories and pictures: Thank you. Your heroic tales, sad stories and blatant exaggerations make the book, and your names are hereby immortalised! Reading this collection of short stories you will see who these scribes are, but I need to mention Rob Bourne-lange, Rory Lynsky, Ali Maynard, Rowan Rasmussen, Hugh Raw, Robbie Stewart, Porky Paul, Paul Henry, Chris Wade and Paul Chalupsky. Your accusations and denials started the stories rolling! Scatter Slater was instrumental in getting Vaalie tongues wagging. He and Moose Clark got things rolling nicely, and - like everything from behind the boerewors curtain - the waves got bigger and the swims got longer. Getting newer-generation stories told was harder, but eventually we did get some stories from paddlers who are actually on instagram. Up to then our contributors were mainly on salusa45. A book also needs financing and we owe a special debt of gratitude to the advertisers and sponsors who made it possible, as well as to the paddlers who each kicked in R1000 to get the process going. When you're dealing with okes who paddled in the sixties you're not always communicating electronically. To those who emailed, me, thank you. To those who spoke over coffee or wrote in laborious longhand and then sent runners with cleft sticks across the valley and relied on me to be your typist, well, thank you flat-bladers too. The longest coffee session was seven and a half hours and the coffee was quarts of beer and quota wine from his estate. Thanks Herve. You made the mere five and a half hours with Paul Chalupsky seem short-winded. If I have left anyone out, or not offended anyone I do apologise; It wasn't for lack of trying. Please let me know and I'll fix on the website. Every paddler can have a page for their pictures, stories and mates' nicknames. Background material came from Ian Player and Rob Gouldie's books and Charles Mason and Geoff Caruth's writings over the years; they're gratefully acknowledged and gleefully plagiarised. The wonderful conversational tone of Gouldie's book was an especial inspiration and gave us permission not to censor Customary Paddling Language. The Killie Campbell museum and the KZN newspapers were all helpful. Jon Ivins and TheBrandBrewery cooked up the final product and provided many of the wonderful colour images. All mistakes are mine (remember: 'tis a boring man who can only spell a word one way; and I was told the same stories many different ways!). Please write with your corrections and additions. This was stressful fun! Thank you all. Pete Whirlpool Swanepoel - pete@sheila.co.za - www.theumko.com Book design by Jon 11 Ivins | www.thebrandbrewery.co.za UMKO 50 Years