Matthew Fitzsimons – so many men suddenly need a river bath

Hi Pete,

It’s so fitting that you are compiling a book on the Umko as jeepers that river has some stories.

I would like to add in a few myself:

  • 1989 – My twin brother and I (Roger and Matthew Fitzsimons) completed the Umko marathon but during the qualifier (1 to 8) ourselves and another five boats from our school  Hilton College did not get past number 1 rapid. Our boats all  wrapped and I clearly remember us folding our boats up and catching  a lift back to Richmond on the toilet truck. There was rumour that one of the guys boats wasn’t properly damaged and they took a rock to the deck to make it look worse than it was, rather than get back on the fierce river.
  • I think this was the year that the European woman’s white water team came to paddle the Umko. I have this very clear memory of all the unfazed  European girls heading down for a  naked evening wash in the river at Riverside . Never have I seen so many men suddenly also need an instantaneous river bath……… like lemmings over the river bank into the river !
  • 2008 – The flooding year. I have some great photos including one that landed on the front page of SA Paddler (see attached) . Please confirm if you want me to send you these photos or else scan them through to you.

I have not paddled for many years but making every effort to get back to the Umko for the 50th

Cheers – Matthew

Author: bewilderbeast

It's about life, marriage, raising kids, paddling rivers, travel in Africa . . . re-posting thoughts written over decades - at random, I'm afraid.

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