50 Years of Umko 1966 - 2016 1966 - 2016 - Page 86

So Pete Peacock went over the falls. This is how it happened: 1.Charles Mason - “most have done so inadvertently!” “Kingfisher Falls is the only other place where almost everyone will carry his or her boat around. Of the very few who have shot it in racing craft, most have done so inadvertently! Most famous of these Peter Peacock and his partner Jimmy Potgieter who arrived at a preliminary race (Waterfall to Sea) late for the start. The field had already departed. Racing to catch up they put their heads down and paddled hard, thinking the race had started below the Falls. Too late, they saw to their horror that they were onto the dreaded Kingfisher Falls! Jimmy managed to cling to a rock at the lip of the drop and was eventually rescued by a group of umfaans who threw him a rope and hauled him to safety. Peter was swept over the falls together with their canoe. He survived miraculously with only a broken toe to show for his spectacular leap.” UMKO 50 Years 2. Ali Maynard - “enter the land of long lips and tightly shut eyes” “The story about the waterfall goes like this. It was the first time that we organized a race from the Waterfall to the Lido by the sea. A road had been pushed in on the North side of the river which gave us access to the river in this segment. We arrived on that Sunday morning to find the river in full flood. The start was upstream of the waterfall on the bend coming down from Bad Rapid. Stewart as usual was late so the start was delayed. Later on about 20 boats set off. Mainly in doubles but Stewart was putting a Sabre on the river as a first-ever (a remarkable feat in itself, but he was good enough to do this). The river was a seething brown mass and I was in the back of a double with Paul Henry steering. As we came around the corner and lined up on the left bank portage (still well ahead of us) we saw Jimmy Potgieter and Peter Peacock well across to the right. I think they were intending to portage but not having tripped had not checked out the right hand bank portage. Now to what Jimmy told me later (by the way, Jimmy was one of the best Umko paddlers ever and could drink the water too - another story on its own). Jimmie was lined up to get out on the South Bank when they started to doubt where to get out. As we all know when we are in this situation, somebody starts to “back paddle” and the boat becomes unstable and voila! Enter the land of long lips and tightly-shut eyes. Only when you have swum in a raging river do you know that the body has an uncanny ability to shut tightly any vent on the body that could take water. Peacock now in this position, was washed in the direction of the Falls holding onto his homemade double. I believe the boat just broke up when it hit the bottom and Pete was spat out below. I am not sure he even had a life jacket on. Jimmy is now sans boat and hits out for the South bank only to swim into a shallow rock and grabs on for dear life. The local people had very little contact with umLungus in that area and soon a crowd gathered to look at Jimmy clinging to a rock about 15m from the bank. Soon a rope was produced and after much discussion the throwing started (likely the first time a throwline was ever used in SA). The throw team got better and better with practice and managed to be able to actually get the line to Jimmie who point blank refused to touch it. There was much “Hau Bamba Boss Bamba”! No ways was Jimmie going to bamba while there was no rac e official present, so this would-be rescue team called it a day. Somehow word got out that there was an umLungu stuck on a rock in the river and a race official was dispatched on the road on the south bank. Story has it that Jimmie was there for about two hours having lodged himself firmly on the rock. Story has it that Jimmie caught the throw line first time once the umLungu was there to supervise. Story goes that Jimmie said something like this “What? You think I was going to take a chance with those amateurs and their rope? I had already lost Peter, presumed drowned, and was not going to take a chance!” 3. Rowan Rasmussen - “You need to get the full truth from Pete” So this is how stories start. I must drop in a few comments and Robbie will back me up. The race where Pete went over and Jimmy nearly went over the falls was not all the way to the sea as I recall, but ended somewhere around Goodenough’s Weir. I think I paddled a double with Rob as I clearly remember the incident but don’t think we paddled in singles. Might be dead wrong here. I also believe Pete and Jimmy got just about to the lip of the falls when Jimmy realised what was up and, being in the front, jumped out and onto the rock while Pete was too late and went over. You need to get the truth 86