50 Years of Umko 1966 - 2016 1966 - 2016 - Page 84

set some sort of new Umko record climbing up that cliff during a race. (A ‘first ascent’?) “Brian, of course, was watching the whole thing. He was thirty meters away, directly across the river. He watched as I got trashed in the hole; he watched as I climbed to the top of the cliff; he watched as I walked downstream to flat water; he watched as I swam across; he watched as I walked back up the bank to where he was standing, foot-tapping. Finally, he spoke. ‘Are you finished playing Spiderman?’ he asked.” Pete Geach “My partner Kevin Kevlar Middleton was unhappy. He was hicupping uncontrollably. He had recently visited his GP who had given him a thorough check-up including the indignity of the dreaded ‘Finger of Doc’ rubber glove treatment. Kevlar had been violated and the more he thought about it, the worse his hiccups got. When we found ourselves swimming in the Approaches I felt a dark foreboding, proven right when we hit a big boulder in No.2 and we were over. There was no holding the boat this time and it was ripped away down into the waiting hole. “Kevlar and I were now marooned on the island with batch after batch breezing past. When the sweeps arrived on a decent raft we hopped on and were instructed to paddle on our driver’s command. We hit the very same submerged rock. I was ‘high-siding’ enthusiastically one moment, the next catapulted back into the water - the last place I wanted to be. Kevlar reached out like Michelangelo’s ‘Finger of God’ to try and grab me as they slipped past. “Marooned again and more than slightly pissed off with my predicament, I managed to take off both splashies, blow up my Tripper juice bag and then reluctantly jump in, all the while trying to swim away from the hole. Safely in the pool I inspected what was left of our boat. Trashed is the word that came to mind. We took out the cables and carried on in the calmer waters to No.4. “Kevlar eventually recovered from his hiccups but that marked the end of an exciting era for us - I had done the bulk of my ten UMKOs with him.” Roy Swingewood was once trapped under his boat at ‘Toilet Bowl’ when a hand reached down from above and plucked him out. It was Willem Deysel’s hand, but Roy still mutters “Divine Intervention”. Mike Vehbi was a sweep at what he calls the ‘Devil’s Toilet Bowl’ and was kept very busy with his throw-bag, dragging paddlers, canoes and paddles from the centre of the river to where he was standing, about 30 metres downstream from the rapid on river left. “You can imagine my surprise when one of the paddles I grabbed from the river had an arm still attached to it! I was simultaneously horrified and awed at the power of the mighty Umko rapids that they could sever a paddler’s arm. Fortunately my shock was short-lived as Umko legend Jan De Neef soon came floating past calling for his artificial arm and paddle”. UMKO 50 Years Hugh Raw - Swimming Makes You Strong Some years ago Dickie Edwards and I were up in front of the whole field at the Umko prize-giving in Richmond. We were charged with breaking the rules of the race and were facing disqualification if found guilty. This ‘Kangaroo Court’ was presided over by Rob Davey and his assessor Ernie Alder. Standing there, shuffling our feet and looking worried I conferred with Dickie. The mob had scented blood and were baying for ours so I said “Let’s plead guilty and throw ourselves on the mercy of these kangaroos, er, I mean ‘the court’”. Lucky for me Dickie had so many girlfriends in the ‘jury’ that the ‘judges’ reluctantly swayed in our favour. To the extent that we were presented with a clean pair of shorts each. Dickie nearly blew it by dropping his rods in front of the crowd and donning the fresh ones. The reason was of course that the river was up on that fateful day and everyone was sternly instructed “You are NOT, under any circumstances, to paddle through 5&6!” We had set off with survival in mind and proceeded cautiously through all the big stuff in our trusty Accord. Just before the dreaded 5&6 there is a drop with a big wave train followed by a right-angle turn and another wave-train. The power of the current pushed us over to the far bank with us paddling frantically to make the turn which is where we fell out. Over the years we have fallen out so often that our swim game-plan went into action faultlessly. With me tugging the tail of the boat towards the right hand bank and Dickie clutching the paddles we looked downstream. The “Finger of Fate” had just the tip showing above the surging water and it was a chilling sight. We were locked in the current and going very fast. Dickie was ahead of me and closer to the bank as we passed the last take-out point and the roar of the rapid was now deafening. At this point I was still capable of a half amused shout of “help” followed by a “heeelp” at a couple of paddlers on the portage, knowing that they would think I was mad. But heaven-sent help was at hand. There was Richard Ringo Starr in a Topolino kayak paddling up towards Dickie. “Hold on the back! I’ll pull you to the bank” shouts Richard and sets off with ‘Sea anchor Edwards” clinging on. In spite of Herculean efforts Richard was going nowhere, and looking over his shoulder saw that he was about to go through the right of the Finger so I heard shouts of “Let go Dickie! Let go! Geroff, Geroff!”. Dickie swept off round the Finger, never to be seen again, I thought. By this stage I was approaching the Finger like a torpedo aimed straight at the huge rock and the thought of being speared by my own boat was the decider. I pushed it away thinking good luck boat you’re on your own. There is rumoured to be a bit of an undercut to the “Sentinel Finger” which was on my mind now and it was very dark as I submerged about 2m from it. It seemed to take ages for the PFD to bring me up. On the way up there was the sensation of passing a noisy disturbance on my right but I did not touch anything. From there it was a hectic swim dodging rocks and holes but there at the bottom waiting for me was my slightly modified boat and my slightly modified partner. He was not to be mollified and only once before did he tear a strip off me like that (that was higher up on the Umko at “Long Drop”). So we finished the race only to face the music for a misunderstanding. You see, we are still sure they said “You are NOT, under any circumstances, to paddle through 5&6!” Hail to the Viking Rasmussen! On a trip Charles, Robbie Stewart and Rowan Rasmussen were caught in a fierce hailstorm between No.7 and No.8 - hailstones as big as golfballs (you always have to say that)! Charles and Robbie immediately got out, ran under some overhanging trees and huddled tortoise-style under their 84