Locals take on the Hansa Fish Canoe Marathon

Seven local men took on the challenge of the Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon, paddling more than 80km over two days.

EMBRACING THE JOURNEY: The Kowie men who took part in the Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon, from left, Dewald de Vos, Rick Betts, Ian Robertson, Andrew Kingon, Alan Robb, Ricjard Legg, with old-man-of-the-river Louis du Preez in front

It was veteran Louis du Preez’s 21st Fish River race. Alan Robb has done it nine times, the duo of Richard Legg and Rick Betts did their fourth, Ian Robertson and Andrew Kingon did their second, and Dewald de Vos did it for the first time.

Day one started at Grassridge Dam and ended up 48km further down the river at Knutsford. Du Preez described it as a tricky and tough section, including the infamous Keith’s Flyover rapid and the notorious Salts Pans rapids, both of which bring the race to an abrupt end for many canoeists.

Canoeists also have to negotiate overhanging willow branches growing along the river.

Day two began at Kuntsford and finished 36km down river in Cradock.

“It was a more relaxing and easier section, but still includes several obstacles which could end one’s race, including the infamous Cradock Weir 4km from the end,” Du Preez said.

Robb was unfortunate not to complete his 10th Fish River race.

“Alan and his partner took a swim above Keith’s Flyover rapid. His partner was washed down the rapid and it is assumed he hit his head against a rock,” Du Preez said.

“Fortunately the lifesavers manages to get to him. They resuscitated him, but he was unable to take any further part in the race.”

The rest of the Kowie lads all had several swims and had to make repairs to their canoes on the river banks, but all finished safely.

BRAVING THE RAPIDS: Louis du Preez at the infamous Cradock Weir, on his 21st Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon

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