Our precious water



All of Earth’s water – every drop – salt & fresh

That large blue sphere over America represents all of Earth’s water. Its diameter is about 1370km (more than the distance from Pretoria to Cape Town) and has a volume of about 1,386,000,000 cubic kilometers). This sphere includes all of the water in the oceans, ice caps, lakes, rivers, groundwater, atmospheric water, and even the water in you, your dog, and your tomato plant.

The sphere may look small, but its height is three times higher than the International Space Station, which flies about 400km overhead. If you pricked that bubble it would fill all the oceans & seas, (average depth 3.7km), lakes, rivers, ice caps, underground water, everywhere. If you spilled it just over the continental USA it would be 170km deep, seventeen times deeper than the deepest ocean trench.

Liquid fresh water

The second, smaller blue sphere over Kentucky represents the world’s liquid fresh water (groundwater, lakes, swamp water, and rivers). The volume comes to about 10,633,450 km3, of which 99 percent is groundwater, much of which is not accessible to humans. The diameter of this sphere is about 272 kilometers.

Water in lakes and rivers

Can you see the third tiny blue bubble over Atlanta, Georgia? That one represents accessible fresh water – the water in all the lakes and rivers on the planet. Most of the water people and life on earth need every day comes from these surface-water sources. Scary how small it is!! The volume of this sphere is about 93,113 km3. The diameter is about 56 kilometers. It is incredibly tiny compared to the globe, but if you’re thinking “can’t be that small” you have to try to imagine a bubble 56km high—say seven times higher than Mt Everest is above sea level (or fourteen times higher than Everest above base camp, the usual picture we see of the mountain).

Surface liquid fresh water is incredibly precious! Let’s not dam it, pollute it or waste it.

See: http://water.usgs.gov/edu/earthwherewater.html


Look again: That tiny third sphere north of the state of Florida is ALL the Earth’s surface fresh water!! And we pour our waste into it!

Jimmy Potgieter

Paul Chalupsky & Jimmy Potgieter after coming 2nd in the first Umko tie the boat onto Papa Chalupsky's Borgward
Paul Chalupsky & Jimmy Potgieter after coming 2nd in the first Umko tie the boat onto Papa Chalupsky’s Borgward


This website had a lovely fortuitous result:

On 2015/11/04 12:13, bernice@idodreams wrote:
Hi There,
I came across your book that you are writing and found the first ever photo that I have seen of my husband’s father, Jimmy Potgieter.  Sadly Jody my husband was very young when his Dad passed and his mother Audrey Cox (they never married) also passed away when my husband was 18 so we don’t have a lot of records of my husbands family.
We live in England now after leaving SA in 2007, and have since had a little boy who I would love to tell tales of his Grandad.  Finding this photo has been quite simply amazing for me.  Born and raise in Hillcrest I spent a lot of time on the banks of the river watching the Dusi come through.
I just read this back and it sounds like one of those dodgy emails … but it isn’t.  I would love to buy one of these books and also if you have any other stories or photos that I can share with my husband it would really mean a lot.
Kind regards
Bernice Watson – (My husband was adopted by another man his mother married, that is why our surname is different)
Hi Bernice
That’s absolutely terrific – I am so glad you found us. We will certainly gladly share everything we have about Jimmy with you. I am busy gathering stories and we hope to publish the book in time for next year’s Umkomaas river marathon. It will the 50th and Jimmy was one of those who paddled that very first race in 1966, finishing second (he always won or finished high up in his races!!).
I will keep in touch and you and your husband will have some good memories and stories to tell your kids!
He was a legend among paddlers. In 1970 I was introduced to canoeing and the guy who told me about the Dusi told me about “Iron Man” Jimmy Potgieter!
Kind regards
Pete Swanie
Hi Pete,
Thank so much for your reply I simply cannot wait for my husband to get home… I printed the photo off so we can have one for the wall of Grandpa Jimmy.  I have been looking into this all day and have come across the name Willie Potgieter who was one of the pioneers who attempted the Dusi in 1951 with Ian Player.  Do you know if this is any relation of Jimmy’s?  or do you know who I can ask?
This has been a wonderful day… 10 years after marrying my husband finally I can see where his looks came from.
Thank you
Hi Bernice & Jody
Here’s the full waterfall saga as it is going to appear in the book. It includes Pete Peacock’s eye-witness account of how he went over the falls and how – once he had recovered – he went back to rescue Jimmy.
Enjoy! It is one of the most legendary stories of the Umko – and of SA paddling.

PS: The picture was taken soon after the race when Rory Lynsky, a journalist and paddler took his colleague photographer from The Daily News back to the fall to get the picture. That’s Rory in the pic.


1.Charles Mason – “most have done so inadvertently!”


Kingfisher Falls is the only other place where almost everyone will carry their boat around. Of the very few who have shot it in racing craft, most have done so inadvertently! Most famous of these was Peter Peacock and 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.”


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 it 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 home-made 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 throw-line 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 race 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 full truth from Pete.


4. Robbie Stewart – “We all said ‘Bullshit – Not possible!”

Rowan and I were in a K2. We shot most of the sneak channel down the left of the falls. Pete and Jimmy were late for the start and did not realise that they were on the inside line heading straight for the falls! Jimmy who was in front must have turned the boat and was able to grab onto a rock. Pete went over the falls backwards – trying to swim up stream. His only injury a broken toe!

They had a job getting Jimmy off the rock in the middle of the falls. A local guy helped using his belt to give Jimmy to grab onto and then they grafted him to safety.

The race ended at Goodenoughs Weir. When Frank Emmet told us at the end that Pete had gone over the falls but that he had seen him afterwards at the bottom we all said ‘Bullshit – Not possible!’


5. Rory Lynsky – “for some unexplained reason”

The Waterfall – at the time called “Kingfisher Rapid” – the only compulsory portage. The story behind the picture is back in ’73 or ’74 in one of the preliminary races, Peter Peacock and the late Jimmy “Iron Man” Potgieter were approaching the rapid and for some unexplained reason found themselves drawn into the vortex. Potgieter managed to make the safety of a rock in the river, but Pete was taken over the falls, where the entire volume of the Umkomaas is drawn through a narrow gap. How he survived is a miracle. Frank Emmett was present and helped rescue Potgieter. I was a reporter, and persuaded my news editor it was worth a story, so we drove to the waterfall with the resultant photograph. I’m the guy on the rock.

[ PIC – Kingfisher Falls and Rory Lynsky soon after the happening ]


6. Frank Emmet – Ah! Our first eyewitness

This was my first Umkomaas River race. Tony Scott was competing in Australia and he loaned me his white water canoe to do the Waterfall to Goodenough’s race. Before this I had only completed one Dusi in an old borrowed boat with Bruce Webber.

I got a lift to the race with Rory Lynsky and Dave Biggs. They told me to get out on the left bank at the waterfall around the bend and portage round. When I got there no-one was in sight and I ended up leaving getting to the left bank a bit late, so I abandoned Tony’s canoe mid-stream and struck out for the safety of the bank.

There was no sign of the canoe at the bottom of the falls. My search was distracted by a canoe followed by a body crashing over the falls. Peter surface 100m or more down stream and promptly hurled up gallons of Umkomaas water.

He and I then searched the banks below for remnants of our boats but to no avail. Returning to the top of the falls we found Jimmy still clinging to a rock on the lip of the falls cursing out loud and making sure we understood that he would not budge without the assistance of a helicopter. A group of local umfaans fortuitously appeared with a length of conveyor belt. A branch was tied to one end and after many attempts the belt was hurled to within Jimmy’s reach. With the umfaans’ help we pulled Jimmy to the safety of the bank.

Tony was fairly understanding about the fate of his white water boat.

——— 7 ——————————————-

NOW – and only now – we’ll ask Pete Peacock himself!
“In February 1972 the first Umkomaas waterfall to Goodenoughs weir was held. A road had been put through on the north bank of the river. Jimmy Potgieter and I decided to race in a K2 but unfortunately arrived late at the start. Drivers were already climbing into vehicles and leaving. We hurriedly jumped onto a full river and took off to try and catch everyone.

Neither of us gave a thought as to whether we were above or below the waterfall. We went around the first corner on the right hand side and I looked up and saw vapour above the river. I shouted to Jimmy who was in the front of the boat and he took immediate action. We U-turned and attempted to paddle away from the falls as the strong current was running hard against the steep right hand bank preventing any escape there.
We sprinted for all we were worth and went precisely nowhere. We were just metres from the edge of the falls. The front of the boat suddenly veered off to the left and we both jumped for the nearest rock.

Being at the back I was closest to the edge and all I managed was a desperate grab at a very smooth rock on the lip of the falls and I was over and on my way. I distinctly remember thinking This Cannot Be Happening and looking up and then down which confirmed I was on my way down. I hit nothing on the way down and, as in those days we had no lifejackets, I began swimming up as soon as I could. I seemed to be going nowhere and the thought crossed my mind that perhaps I was disoriented and swimming down instead of up so I stopped swimming for the surface to see what direction I would move in. It didn’t help, time passed, I suppose seconds, and air was becoming urgent. I started swimming for the surface again thinking I would rather go out trying for the surface, even if it was the wrong direction. I have no recollection of surfacing and was woken by water splashing in my face at the top of the first rapid after the falls. Luckily for me I was alongside a submerged rock and I just had to throw an arm over it to get my head out of the water. I was exhausted and had it been any further away I would have drowned in the rapid. I lay there retching until I recovered then ran back up the gorge to see where Jimmy was.

As I climbed up I was relieved to see a figure sitting on a rock right on the edge of the falls. In my haste I stubbed and broke my big toe. Once back on top Jimmy indicated he would wait for a helicopter. Looking around I saw some cattle and two herdboys watching. The cattle had rope (asbestos belting) around their necks. I asked if I could borrow it to pull Jimmy off the right hand edge of the falls. I duly knotted two pieces together, tied the end to a large log of wood and walked upstream and threw it into the current to float it down to Jimmy. It proved impossible and the current kept pushing the log to the left of the falls. At this stage I was shivering with cold or perhaps shock and was wondering what to do next.

The herders had watched with interest and at this stage asked how much money I had. I happened to have a R1 coin and for this princely sum one fellow agreed to take the log much higher upstream and swim it down to Jimmy, from where his friend and I would pull them both back to the bank.
I checked the knots, held the end running down the bank while he swam for the falls. Once together on the edge of the falls they both held on and jumped while the friend and I ran back with the rope. It worked and they both virtually bounced on the surface of the water to safety.”

Yo! So now we actually know all about this incredible saga – every paddlers worst nightmare – which attained legendary status over the years!

(A few years later in 1977
Canews emphasised that the race that year would be starting BELOW the falls (capital letters and underlined) and editor Kelway Tanner added a comment: “If you guys don’t know where the waterfall is ask Peter Peacock! Actually, this is most definitely a compulsory portage – if you don’t take out you probably won’t be around to be penalised anyway!”)


On 2015/11/11 20:33, bernice@idodreams wrote:
Hi Pete,
Yet again I am thrilled with your emails… tears rolling down my cheeks… these are just fantastic accounts of a man and my husband will love them.  Thank you so much, I was really nervous sending that first message, but reading this story has made a dreary UK day, enthralling.  What a guy he was,  these tails are even helping me understand my husband and his stubborn, never give in and competitive nature.  The photo you sent of Jimmy’s side profile to has brought us much to chat about.  Showing in to our son and also Jody drawing many comparisons to his looks.
I really hope we can hear more from Hugh and even Pete Peacock as he sounds like he would have a few stories to tell.
Thanks Again
Sent: Wednesday, November 11, 2015 5:01 PM
Subject: Fwd: Umko insight
Hi Bernice & Jody

Hugh Raw is another Pietermaritzburg Dusi and Umkomaas paddling legend who paddled with your Dad and saw him through his highs and lows.
Out of the blue he has sent me this for the Umko book (I hadn’t sent him your letter – I will now):
——–Forwarded Message ——–

This is one of many memories I have of one of the great Umko characters, Jimmy Potgieter. He was the first ‘Iron Man”, so called by the International Canoe Federation bigwig who watched him pounding up Burma Road with his boat and with a good chance of winning that other less famous race (Dusi). I met him after he had given up competitive racing in boats and was rehabilitating after a year spent as a professional punter. He lived on meat pies and brandy and coke while he hung around bars picking up tips and strategising the “big one”. He was as strong as an ox but mild and gentle in manner but quite “woes” when pushed. I saw what he could do to his friends in the pub so I guess he had no enemies.

Jimmy was good with novices, he won the Dusi with Clive Hough in 1968 but my story took place on the Umko in the late 1980s. We paddled at the back of the field on many occasions but one stands out. After patting ourselves on the back for surviving rapids #1 and #2 our Accord was in need of an empty so he turned the boat towards the bank on a quiet stretch of the river. As we drifted silently in, a large head popped out of the water just in front of us and then submerged as we drifted over it.

Two things happened simultaneously. Jimmy exploded out of his cockpit and nearly landed on my lap making puffing noises and I, trying to ease his distress said, “It’s OK Jim it’s just a leggevaan” when I caught sight of big coils under the boat slowly moving away in the current. Beautiful colouring told me what it was and what I saw was a girth as big as my thigh. Jimmy, the victor of many a bar fight was difficult to get back in the boat still breathing heavily and desperate for a smoke. There was quiet for a while in the boat and then Jimmy spoke to no one in particular , “I don’t care what it was, it was bigger than me”.



Tony Scott

Richard Starr & Tony Scott

Hi Pete

Best Built Canoe

In earlier years many paddlers preferred to borrow moulds, often owned by Clubs, and construct their own boats. At the overnight stop at Josephines, Kingfisher traditionally held a “best built boat” competition.  The competition was consistently won by German innovation and precision engineering – carried out by Poppa Chalupsky (Pauls father). Pauls boat had many optional extras for example,  high cockpits, moulded double lip cockpits into which the spray cover recessed, vinyl glued to the entire hull (which made the boat waterproof even with cracks in the fibreglass), stainless steel nose cone and a sprung rudder blade (a spring contraption which returned the rudder to the downward position).

The rest of us mortals had to fend for ourselves. I managed to find a K1 glass hull and framed deck which I covered with clear plastic. The clear plastic exposed, in lieu of a standard T-bar, a timber footrest with pedals – until then reserved for paddle skis only.  This spelt the end of the Best Built Cup for the Bismarck.  Needless to say Paul and Poppa was extremely irate at losing to a relatively simple innovation.

The final slap in the face came halfway through the third day when Paul’s entire patented rudder system fell off – some say that over design is what let the Germans down during the Second World War.

Most Memorable Incident

In earlier years the race extended over three days from Hella Hella to the Indian Ocean. The third day included a waterfall which was normally portaged on the left. Another option was a narrow chute on the left of the falls which cut the 150m scramble in half.  At the end of day two,  Malcolm Hall and I were in second place by two minutes behind  Oscar Chalupsky and Lee McGregor. Before the start of day three, we managed to hitch a ride on the TV helicopter to check out the sneak chute. Standing on the rocks at the top of the falls I was stupid enough to suggest to Malcolm that the falls  might be shootable.  I should have known that Malcolm’s answer to these kind of questions was always the same “down the centre Mrs Venter”.  Back to the start of day three we kicked off two minutes behind the leaders – who were well out of site at that velocity of water. Over the falls we went, reorganised our spray covers which popped on impact and paddled around the first kink after the falls right up to Oscar and Lee who had just re-entered.  After a wide-eyed double-take, they took off with us right behind them all the way to Gulley. We followed them over “the drop” which is an option to the right of Gulley, only to find them swimming through the rapid below where we narrowly avoided their mess.  Oscar and Lee came home in a helicopter with their boat never to be seen again. Colin Simpkins and Sean Rice passed us on the flat with one km to go – no prize for second place but Oscar’s expression had made it all worthwhile.


Normally a front paddler in a K2, I was lucky enough to sit behind Rory Pennfather, fondly known as “chicken man” and who,  as a driver, is  in a class of his own – in any river at any level. On this particular occasion we were tiger lining a left bend below Josephines when Rory’s blade caught between the rocks and ripped him out the boat. After a short swim I emptied the boat and ran back upstream to find Rory siting on a rock with his face ashen and his shoulder protruding at a sickening angle. After a bout of arm manoeuvres we managed to re-seat the shoulder. Back in the boat Rory battled on, slowly building up the pace as the pain subsided.  We ultimately caught and passed the leading bunch.  Maybe the Maritzburg chaps can fill me in on the origin of his nickname but it sure aint to do with his heart.

Big Water

We arrived at Hella Hella to find the river roaring at about 50 foot.  (NB: TONY MEANT FIFTEEN!). Quite a few entrants after checking the level, climbed back in their cars and left. One such person viz Colin Wilson tried extremely hard to start, taking his boat on and off his car about five times before reluctantly giving way to common sense. I was paddling with Paul Chalupsky probably the most experienced paddler on the Umkomaas at the time, and felt relatively confident in a big Accord (which I called the Queen Mary).

The lines at this high level were totally different – generally been the inside corner.  Rapids 5 and 6 is normally entered on the right of the centre rock. This year we were right of the big rock on the right bank, normally high and dry then down through the flooded fields to finally re-enter down a cascade below the end of 5 and 6.

The singles left before the doubles. When we caught the singles I can still picture them against the far bank – huddled like a bunch of ducklings – all following Charlie Mason – racing was the last thing on their minds – now it was down to survival.

We had one swim, which after discussion with Robbie Stewart, was probably the same place that him and his partner Rowan Rasmussen had swum – a little upstream from Mpanomani Rapid. The speed that the water was moving left no time to head for the side or avoid what was a huge wave almost as wide as the river.  All I heard was Paul shout one word “CRIKEY” and we were under water.

After every river race Poppa (Paul’s father) would resurface his boats back to mint condition. After this race he didn’t need to service the boat – we never touched a single rock in 130kms.

Doc Cursen, father or springbok canoeist  Clive Cursen, was always on hand at the overnight stops as race doctor often assisting with time keeping and the likes. At the second stop Paul was suffering from badly  sandblasted eyeballs, caused by the constant smashing into mud laden waves.  Doc managed to lay his hands on a bottle of eye drops for cows. This sent Paul break dancing around the campsite for 10 minutes.  They did the trick.

The Queen Mary Paul believed, was unsinkable with stainless nose cone, vinyl lining, high cockpits and high fitting spray covers.  Paul eventually convinced me that with all this we wouldn’t need pumps. This decision left us playing catch up with Robbie Stuart and Rowan Rasmussen after every stop to empty the boat. We finally caught them at the start of the flat water at Goodenoughs Weir – which in normal conditions was only shootable through a specific chute on the right. At this level the chute was not identifiable and we chose to portage, and at the put in we dumped the nose of our boat next to Robbie and Rowan (who had made the same choice). Then came Paul’s classic comment, in his special race day German accent …”dats your bundle”.


Just to correct in over 20 Umkomaas’s I have never not finished. Furthermore Dave McCormack and I have never swum.  I have discussed the attached with Dave who totally agrees with my recollection.

Dave and I won the Umko which finished before Four Foot Drop.  Seven years later, a last minute decision found us paddling the same boat, by then very patched and fragile.  Existing No. 8 I shouted to Dave that we had lost our rudder.  He suggested I look back, which I did, only to see the back of the boat in the air at a 45 degree angle from behind the back cockpit.  We managed to paddle to the bank where we spent three hours patching.

It was on separate occasion while paddling with Paddy Quinlin and, with a comfortable lead we cracked open the nose on a relatively minor rapid above No Name.  Chris and Tim passed us on one of our many emptyings to the finish.




Hi Pete,

Looks pretty honest from Colin. The rock is in a rapid called “Stripey”(after the symmetrical stripes on the adjacent mountain on the left bank). Its one of those where if you read the water perfectly and position you boat perfectly, you stopped dead. After a few years in order to miss it, I tried the wrong line – and guess what, I still hit it. There was a similar teeth rattler at the bottom of No. 2 where the right line was the wrong line. This one disappeared after Demoina.



From: pete swanepoel home [mailto:pete@sheila.co.za]
Sent: 03 October 2015 12:39 PM
To: Umko Tony Scott <ssqs@mjvn.co.za>
Subject: Malcolm Hall or Dave McCormack – or both?

Hi Scotty

I thought you paddled Umko with McCormack, but three guys have mentioned Malcolm now.

  1. Help me out pls.
  2. Also, here’s Colin Slipskin’s version of events on one race. Maybe he’s exaggerating or taking a chance? Check it out and keep him honest 🙂 – tks Pete

“The Umko, that year, was very low. We raced the first day from Hella Hella to Riverside. Somehow Starsky and I managed to break away, together with Tony Scott and Malcolm Hall. We managed to outsprint them, but still took nearly six and a half hours to complete the day. If the winners took  six and a half hours, you can imagine what some of the back markers did. Many ran out of daylight and had to sleep on the river bank, coming into the campsite the next morning, grabbing a quick breakfast, filling up their juice bottles and getting back onto the water.

As is the custom, the slower paddlers were let off earlier on the second day, with the elapsed time guys going off later. Starsky is the world’s most notorious wake snake. Once he finds a wave, it is almost impossible to get rid of him. On the second day, we stuck to Scotty like super glue. About an hour into the day, as we approached a particular rapid, Scotty asked us to back off a bit as “there is a rock in this rapid, and I don’t know how to miss it”. True to his word, he drove straight into something, and stopped stone dead. Both of their splashcovers popped, and they got stuck. Starsky made it safely to the bottom of the rapid, where he promptly put his paddles down and waited. I asked him what the hell he was doing. He explained that he was waiting for his lift (Scotty/Malcolm). He gave me a look of absolute horror when I suggested that we go on alone, and try to hold them off. Much later, the TV crew at the waterfall informed us that we had a 5 minute lead. Neither of us could believe that we were on the brink of winning our first major race.


Hi Tony
Thanks for the chat.

Digging in the old boxes under the stairs would be very welcome (I’m sure there’s some good stuff there – which you MUST publish!), but telling your stories and memories and skinder about other guys is what I would really like!

Your stories of:
– Sleeping off the premises! (No cap for you!)
– Having to eat lunch on the other side of the river
– Surfing the wave at night
– The Urban Legend of “If the river before was low, the Umko would be high!”
– etc

are what are going to make the book a fun and memorable read. I need those!

Looking forward to them.
Pete Swanie
072-394 7002PS: Did you hear Paul saying “Dat’s your bundle” to Robbie at Goodenough’s?
PPS: Please forward to your son and tell him we need stories from some guys on instagram – we have many stories so far from guys on salusa45 (and you’ll probly even have to explain salusa45 to him!)

——– Forwarded Message ——–

Fabulous and exciting.

I had a chat to Scotty last night and said he MUST get in touch to add his side of the story – and there is a lot!!!!! He has lots of pics as does Paul whom he promises to contact.
Give him a shout Pete. Cell 0836615806.

Doc Curson

Doc Curson
Doc Curson

Alan Malan Curson – A Tribute by Charles Mason, KCC Chairman (1984)

“Doc” officiated on the Umkomaas 13 times between 1968 and 1983.

His calm authority at the starts invariably kept things under control. Numerous compliments in this regard were paid by both top and bunch paddlers.

Doc’s assistance was universally available to all and was never confined to his own club or province. All paddlers were equal in his eyes. During one Dusi when Rob Stewart and Doc’s son Clive were duelling for the lead with Graeme Pope-Ellis and partner, Rob was overheard reminding Doc which team he was supposed to be seconding!

Whilst Doc’s “riverside manner” might not have always met with everyone’s approval, he maintained that canoe races were not the time for ‘kid gloves’ medical treatment. Judging from the number of people who sought his assistance, his help was highly valued.

In 1982 Doc was made an honorary Life Member of Kingfisher, and the 1984 marathon was dedicated to him in memory of his service to the club and the race.


Allie Peter:

Doc Curson aka ‘snake bite’ was for years The Umko Doctor. One never got sick when he was around as his treatment was somewhat harsh to say the least. He was a great “PR” man and made friends with Chief Vella of the valley whose kraal was situated close to the old overnight stop.

Vella claimed he was a church man and did not imbibe in the demon liquor. However when he (the Chief) spied a half jack of Old Buck in Doc’s tin trunk of medical supplies he claimed that that was the correct medicine! And so the rapid was named and for years afterwards we had to take “medicine” to the Chief every year – he certainly did not rub it on wounds!!