50 Years of Umko 1966 - 2016 1966 - 2016 - Page 25

Of the race Chalupsky recalls: “We both knew the river very well as we had tripped all sections of the river several times. Jimmy was a very good canoeist. Charlie and Tank were in a double ski, they were the main opposition. After a couple of kilometres, Jimmy surprisingly was unable to keep up with me, paddled like an appy, and made silly mistakes. Pop was not happy when we limped in way behind Charlie and Tank! We did not manage to make up the deficit and had to settle for second place. Weeks later Jimmy admitted to me (but “Please, not to tell Pops!”) that he had drunk a full bottle of brandy the night before the race and on the day of the race had suffered from double vision!” The last day included the famous waterfall, Kingfisher Falls. Everyone knew you had to portage around it and necks were stretched and ears strained to be sure to spot it in good time. The brothers Ken and Barry Willan decided on an unconventional approach: They threw their boat (it had a sealed ski deck, so could not Paul Chalupsky and Jimmy Potgieter at Papa Chalupsky’s Borgward after that first race fill with water) over the cliff into the pool below the drop and, running a bit further along, jumped in to join it! Most of the ‘about forty’ entrants finished the first Umko. One reason was and extend our lead further with the K2 coming into its own on the final probably that it did not include the rougher Hella Hella section. Another was flatwater paddle to the sea. We eventually won by just over seven minutes. they had no alternative! You finished the race or . . . . what? No helicopters! Our time for the last day was three hours and twenty minutes.” The winners of that epic and historic first race were Charles Mason and Over the entire race there was less than ten minutes separating the first ‘Tank’ Rogers in their heavy Accord. They had tripped the river numerous and second teams. times ahead of the race - preparation which was to prove instrumental All were at the prizegiving which was held at the Westville Hotel a in their victory. Charles relates: “We were able to get ahead of Paul and week later. Charles recently-many years later - complimented Paul as Jimmy at Arthur’s Rapid, where Paul almost swam (and somehow lost his “always gracious in defeat when beaten fairly and squarely”. Paul went wristwatch in the drama). At Riverside Store we had a lead of around three on to win the UMKO seven times. Popular winners of another prize - the minutes after three hours of paddling”. Sportsmanship Prize - were schoolboys Mike v Wierengen and John Keary They set off on elapsed time the second day and managed to stay ahead who had ‘rescued’ the first night by fetching the ‘midnight feast’ (some will until Old Buck Rapid where Paul and Jimmy caught them and the four of say ‘midnight snack’) on the ox sled. them finished the day together - again after three hours on the river. The last day dawned and the two leading teams stayed together as far as the Waterfall where Paul and Jimmy made their first mistake. “They Known finishers of the very first race paddled too far down the left-hand side shute. Tank and I were able to break Charles Mason & Tank Rogers - Double away by taking the shorter and much faster portage close to the lip of the Paul Chalupsky & Jimmy Potgieter - Singles falls. We maintained our lead until the Gully where the singles caught us Ken & Barry Willan, Roly Alborough, Hamish Gerrard, Peter Gladwin, again. But again they made the mistake of paddling too far - this time down John Brebner, Richard Hackland, Graeme Pope-Ellis, Alan Harper, the right bank sneak where there was insufficient water. We took the slot Mike v Wierengen, John Keary, Brian Goddard, Ken Wright, Rob Stewart, immediately right of the main Gully drop and were able to open up and Colin Wilson, Rory Pennefather, Andre Hawarden, Bob Templeton. hold a reasonable lead to Goodenough’s Weir where we had enough time to portage without being overtaken. They were then forced to shoot the weir and Jimmy had some trouble which gave us the chance to break away 25 UMKO 50 Years