*There are two Colin Wilsons. One from the piomeering days before the first race and into the early races. This Colin is of more recent vintage.
Colin “Woodrow” Wilson
First ever Umko, wet behind the ears paddler just done one Dusi with twin brother Dave “Peck” (from “henpeck”) and not that stable in a foxbat, but consider we are legends of the river.
Start at Hella Hella in the old days Umko to the sea, never been in the river and don’t have a clue what is in store.
Set off in said Foxbat into the approaches, river level medium, two swims in the approaches but no damage. By now very scared.
Take No.1 main drop approaching from the top pool. See the biggest hole and disappear into it with the obvious result, long swim underwater, swallow half the Umko but get to the bank with the boat a kay downstream.
Shaken, get back into the boat. At the top of No.2 brace and break a paddle. Swim. Peck is with the boat. I get to shore near the top, and run down the bank with Peck yodelling every time he hits a rock. Peck goes over main drop at bottom and cracks 2 ribs, loses interest in boat. I dive in rescue it from eddy, get back to bank, empty, inspect damage and deem fit to continue.
Peck mutinies. Refuses to get back in boat citing pain and mental anguish, and poor navigation from the skipper. Harsh words are spoken regarding the colour of his backbone but he will not budge, so our first Umko is over.
Hike back to start and lift to Richmond club to drown sorrows (me) and pain (Peck).
Read your mails with amusement! Congrats on putting the time and effort towards this task, although the mighty Umko is most definitely a worthy subject!
No I wasn’t the 1972 Colin Wilson, as I was 9 years old then. I can confess to a certain feeling of nervousness on the steep hill driving down to Hella Hella, however have never considered baling, with or without divine guidance!
The Umko of my story was 1990 I think. Brian Longley and Neils Verkerk also wrapped in the bottom hole of No.2 that year!
After that disastrous first attempt, the river gods have been kinder and I have completed several Umko’s without major mishaps beyond some bruising swims at No.4 and No.5&6, however can still remember the mental anguish of a forced withdrawal!
Good luck with your task, await the book with eager anticipation
Kind regards – Woodrow