HENLEY-ON-KLIP. – The mighty Umkomazi River that churns through the gorges from the highest peaks of the Drakensburg, is a river highly respected by canoeists throughout South Africa, many of whom are intimidated by the massive waves that can swallow a double boat whole.
The 2012 Stihl Umkomaas River Canoe Marathon was run on the weekend of March 17 and 18 between Ixopo and Richmond.
It was a distance of some 67kms with the top canoeing achievers from throughout South Africa attempting the race to win the title of King of Umko.
The river is highly graded, as it is recognised to be the Zambezi-type river of South Africa so wearing of helmets is compulsory, while the participants frequently discuss wearing double-lifejackets or spraydecks when the water is high.
The 230 boats, mostly doubles, saw the paddlers battle their way through the low Umkomazi river gorges, as the recent weeks’ rains failed to fall in the catchment area.
Paddlers used their top manoeuvring skills to wind between the massive waves of the mighty river.
Uwe Schmidthaus enjoys the mighty river rapids and is often found on the Klip River when the river levels are high between Daleside, Meyerton and Three Rivers.
The call of the mighty Umkomaas was too strong to resist.
He finished the race in a single canoe in 17th position out of some 22 singles that participate; he did it in 17 hours and 14 minutes.