50 Years of Umko 1966 - 2016 1966 - 2016 - Page 64

Allan Hold of Stella Club thanked the KCC chairman for a “wonderful 1994 Umko, smooth running, magnificent race”. He complimented the Club on the good “water release” but asked them politely but officially on behalf of Stella to “please move the big rock at the bottom of No.2”. Outgoing letters Wonderful to read the heartfelt, warm and witty thank you letters written by KCC chairmen to the sponsors, farmers, prize donors, policemen and security companies. Allie Peter’s letters include canoeing advice, reports on Ernie’s pub being drunk dry, advice on selecting better partners for the race and - to ¬Barry Porter - thanks for “tolerating this motley crew of canoeists on your property”. The joke often goes about the Complaints Dept being on the thirteenth floor ‘and use the stairs’. At the Umko maybe it is located in the hole at the bottom of No.1? Constructive criticism and suggestions, though, are always welcome. In The Tent Sometimes the heavies become the culprits. Allie (meant-to-behave, he’s an ex-chairman!) Peter has one hazy memory of a night before the race getting involved with those meant-to-misbehave sweep tupperware turkeys and blow-up ‘croc’ specialists who had invented a Ballie Anti-Snore Machine, a sort of mask attached to a length of Kreepy Krauly tubing custom-made for Colin Ballie Roets of Crusaders (the drinking club with a canoeing problem). The plan was to wait until Ballie went to sleep/passed out and to then attach the mask to his peaceful face and feed the hose outside the tent to dissipate the sonorous rattling coming from deep inside the ballie’s throat. One of these sweep turkeys then had a flash of fuzzy brilliance and the mask was instead used to great effect to induce Baboon Tobacco smoke into the lungs of many eager participants who proceeded to get very laid-back as they solved all the pressing problems of life, the deeper meaning of the universe and everything, rendering most of them quite incapable of sweeping the next day. And Ballie’s snoring? Like, Hey Mon, No Problem, Dat. Years later, a similar scene Whinging Dept. (Very) occasionally paddlers write letters of complaint. One long letter complained of sweeps in plastic boats not retrieving their broken K2 and not looking for a missing paddle which led him “to believe that those guys were totally unprofessional in their approach”. Well yes, volunteer sweeps are definitely amateurs - like you and me. Do remember the very presence of sweeps is a huge safety bonus and improves the chance of a paddler in difficulty being saved. On any river you are always responsible for your own boat and paddle while goofing. Anyone who helps you - huge bonus, thank him or her profusely. Those who don’t help you are often actually just busy sorting themselves out! Those sweeps may not have felt confident enough to shepherd a sinking K2 to the bank. Another complaint was about a low river. A KCC writer in SA Canews (quoting “a competitor and well known personality in canoeing circles”) responded thus: “We have become spoiled by full rivers. When we have a low year the overnight camp looks and sounds like an old age home”! He advised paddlers to “learn the art of missing submerged rocks.” UMKO 50 Years A curious silence falls when asking about overnight shenanigans. Perhaps the very grey cells that store those memories are the ones the Hansa and the rum selectively targets and murders? We have few admissions and fewer tell-tale revelations. In one cagey admission Scatter Slater confesses to “some enthusiastic baboonery at the odd overnight over the last 23 years or so” but that’s about it. Marlene and Jenny’s pup tent The rules were strict: If you wanted to paddle the Umko you slept in the large communal tent. The only way to escape that was: Become a high-up official. A Big Heavy. Maybe it was the scars left by the memory of Pop’s Villa giving comfort to a few while the many suffered, but Mr Umko was adamant. So when ladies (LADIES!) pitched a pup tent outside the big marquee the first time ladies (LADIES!) were allowed into the valley a local demolition order was swiftly issued and executed. So the ladies slept in the big tent. Like they were told to. 64