50 Years of Umko 1966 - 2016 1966 - 2016 - Page 37

boat. “Paddle Brian” I shouted. “Look at all those orchids up there!” came the reply followed by a string of botanical names. Initially I was irritated by this. Hell, we were in a race! Later it dawned on me that we were not going to win the race and that Brian had the right approach. In my many passages down the river in later years, I always took time out to soak up the magnificent scenery around me, often just drifting along in the pools below the cliff faces.” Speaking of good people, Rowan Rasmussen paid tribute to three pioneers. Four, really: Rob Davey adds more discreetly: “For those that don’t know the Lido, the function room was downstairs with a large window looking into the swimming pool below water level. Some time during the evening two naked bodies appeared on the other side of the window causing much hilarity and a scramble by management to get them out of the pool. Without giving anything away lets just call them both Trevor.” Other prize-giving venues over the years: Plaza Hotel, Beachfront Restaurant in Umkomaas village, ‘Toti Town Hall, Westville Hotel, Umbogintwini Club, Richmond Country Club I have often said that the three most significant developments in SA canoeing centred around three personalities (four, really): • Charlie Mason - He planned and administered and drove the whole canoeing scene once the early pioneers faded; • Paul Chalupsky - He introduced the ungentlemanly and weird concept of training - without which we would all still be paddling in short-sleeved khaki shirts and scout hats with leopard skin hat bands. I think he also called a canoe a kayak! • Gordie Rowe - He ushered in the era of professional boat-building by drawing on his own experience and by working with old man ‘Papa’ Chalupsky with his sense of German Precision. They lived close to each other in Westville. I used to envy Paul his superbly-built craft that he could simply clean down and hang up for use in the next race. The rest of us were constantly rebuilding, patching or starting from scratch with little time to train. Gordie’s enterprise meant that anyone with R150 could buy a perfect ready-made craft. How many canoeists these days would care to have the ancient skills needed to build their own boats? (Rowan tells of those “ancient skills” at the end of chapter six). Prize-Giving Functions The Lido Hotel in the village of Umkomaas was often the venue. The pool area was visible through full-length windows from the restaurant and innocent patrons were regularly treated to some skinny dipping by exuberant paddlers, thoroughly rehydrated on the sponsors’ brew, including a full frontal that McSlayed the ladies and an eyeful of a famous rear which could have won an Oscar. The tradition of uproarious prize-giving functions has continued over the years . . . . Robbie Stewart recalls “the classic moment when I met an irate wife storming out of the Pub. What had happened is the boys were skinny dipping and you could only see the bottom half of them from the function area. The ladies were having a drink and one said “Look there’s your husband!”. The irate wife took one look and said “HOW DO YOU KNOW?!” Well, he WAS wellendowed, but I think it was his freckly legs that gave him away.” 37 Stalwarts These 18 people have done more than half the total Umkos to date! Name Completed Charles Mason 48 Rob Bourne-lange 41 Rob Davey 37 Dave Biggs 35 Guy Haines 32 Mark Perrow 32 Richard Starr 32 Chris Watts 32 Mike Frizelle 31 Tim Platt 30 Colin Simpkins 30 Hugh Raw 29 Meyer Steyn 29 David Gillmer 28 Graeme Pope-Ellis 27 Tony Botes 26 Owen Hemingway 26 Ken Reynolds 25 Another 171 paddlers have done ten or more, earning them race numbers in perpetuity. PLUS: One thousand four hundred and ninety three paddlers have done ONLY ONE Umko - thus escaping “Charlie’s Berg Rule of Certifiability!” A total of two thousand nine hundred and fifty seven lucky people have the privilege of completing this special race in the forty nine years it has been run. Meyer Steyn’s 29 were all done as a temporary migrant from behind the boerewors curtain. All the rest are KZN men (or have done at least some UMKOs while living in KZN). UMKO 50 Years