Motorheads paradise as East Beach prepares for rubber ducks and jet skis

THE Amanzi Festival, sponsored by the Royal St Andrews Hotel (RSAH), is finally here, with 10 days of high-adrenaline international water sports action to excite, astonish and entertain everyone, young and old, in Port Alfred from Good Friday, March 30 to Sunday April 8.

DUCKING THE WAVES: WITH hearts pumping wildly, rubber duck trainee pilots and Nemato Change a Life members Lifa Nxobo, left, and Pumlani Kamanaare are ready to hit the water on Saturday March 31 and Sunday April 1 as the action begins at East Beach and on the Kowie River

The event opens with the 8km trail run from the Royal Port Alfred Golf Course and back to the RSAH, shortly followed by the famous Marina Mile swim at the Halyards Hotel on Good Friday morning.

And the first international event will be the bodyboarding competition, from Good Friday to Easter Sunday at West Beach, and ending with West Beach Warfare and the APB World Series bodyboarding competition on Monday April 2. The event is a coup for the festival and Port Alfred.

And, on Saturday March 31 and Sunday April 1 East Beach will be roaring with the sound of engines mixed with the smell of exhaust fumes as well as cries of excitement from spectators, as another national event, rubber duck races and jet ski races, take centre stage, another major coup for the area.

And, even more exciting news is that two local Nemato Change a Life (NCAL) members will be co-piloting two of the rubber ducks (inflatable boats).

Pumlani Kamana and Lifa Nxobo experienced their first rubber duck training session in late October last year, and Nxobo visited TotT with NCAL founder, Jan Blom, to speak about his time crashing at high-speed through the waves in and around the marina.

“I was so scared when we first began to practice,” he said. “The [rubber] ducks move so fast across the water and, with all the bumps, it’s a job just to hold on.” Nxobo said he fell out of the boat several times during his inaugural practice session.

Yet now, both he and Kamana are going to be co-pilots in this high-pace, adrenaline-pumping sport.

“As a co-pilot you have to know how to keep the boat balanced. Your time is spent moving around at the back of the boat to make sure it doesn’t tip over,” he said.

The pair appear to be all set for a fabulous time as co-pilots at the event, and a lot of responsibility will rest on their shoulders during the race.

Blom was delighted that his boys were beginning to make it big in the sporting world and said that he would do whatever was necessary to improve the lives of kids in the township.

In the meantime, the jet ski races at East Beach will take place and, in the river and at East Beach, and the Barnacles Challenge jet ski race on Sunday should have the crowds cheering in time with the quickened beating of the riders’ hearts.

With a million rand in prize money, this is the biggest water-sport event ever to be held in the area

“This is big, really big,” said Amanzi Festival co-organiser, Zwelinzima (Sxeaks) Nkwinti. “With a million rand in prize money sponsored Martin and Linda Bekker, owners of the RSAH, this is the biggest water-sport event ever to be held in the area. And, over the next five years we hope to grow the event to become the biggest water-sport event in the country.”

It is anticipated that about 6 000 additional visitors will arrive in Port Alfred and surrounding areas as a result of the Amanzi Festival, and estate agents are now asking individual home-owners if additional accommodation can be found with them.

“The guest houses and hotels are completely booked up due to the Easter holidays and this event,” confirmed Graeme Sunny Hill of Remax in Port Alfred.

So, get out your sun hats (and maybe an umbrella or two, as the forecast for Friday is rain) and make sure you do not miss a single enthralling second of the action at East and West beaches this holiday season and beyond.

A full programme of events can be found on the Talk of the Town web page, www.talkofthetown.co.za.

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