Video 1- Fixing boat after wrapping between 5 & 6

Video 2- Mark Perrow and Olympian Carol Joyce upside down in No 5

Video 3- Bird and Dreyer shooting No 1

To check out these video clips click on the following link:


Day 1 – 9am start (Josephine’s to Riverside)

A-batch blasted off in a frenzy of paddle spray, as paddlers jostled for position going into the first rapid. You have to paddle this big volume river to grasp the might of the Umko and the pristine beauty of the untouched valley it flows through.

With Dusi close to my heart, Non Stop always took preference over this legendary A+ River. However when Graham Bird phoned me on the Thursday before the race looking for a partner, the answer was a definite ‘yes’. I was very excited at the prospect of doing my first Umko, albeit unprepared.

Paddling with the attitude that we were there to enjoy ourselves, allowed us to ‘smell the roses’. Graham’s splashy popping 10 + times, keeping our day honest as we bobbed & weaved our water laden ship down the spectacular river course. The water failing to drain under his seat (schoolboy error – sealed) through to my pumps at the back. Perfect weather, nature at its best – what a lekker day’s paddling. Afterwards, we hitched a ride on the back of a bakkie back to the start to collect our vehicle. 

Deon and Ant finished on Grant and Hank’s wave, with evergreen Biggsy and Michael Arthur third. Carol and Alice having swum, regained their lead from Hillary and Kate near the finish. 

Pic –       Shaun Biggs & Michael Arthur

Day 2 – 8:30am start (Hella Hella to Josephine’s)

In all paddlers’ strategy, the first objective is to survive the notorious Number 1 to Number 8 rapids, then start racing the competition. The approaches to No 1, would warrant a ‘real name’ in any regular canoe race, but not in Umko. We sailed through 1,2 and 3. The boat feeling solid and good friends Beetle Bailey & Traut the target up ahead.

Trying to sneak down the right of No 4, we bumped a rock at the top and suddenly we were over. I got pulled towards the main drop, thumping rocks enroute and then disappeared in the whirly turbulence as the Umko worked me over in the wave train below. Tweet tried to give the boat direction but in an instant it wrapped around a rock. He managed to claw his way to the bank and avoid the ‘bump and grind’ down the rapid. For the record, there are no crayfish at the bottom of No 4.

Ropes and all, we battled with the sweeps to get the K2 loose but to no avail. The campfire stories you hear of crews having to walk their way out that wild overgrown valley are infamous. Whilst contemplating the problem from an adventure racer perspective, wishing we had a map and compass to find the passage of  least resistance, Steve Butler and partner came floating down in a four man raft. What luck, we hopped aboard and had the most laid back cruise down to No 8.

As they say all good things come to an end, nonetheless we had an incredible weekend.

In front Grant and Hank took no prisoners, claiming their first Umko title, with Deon and Ant finally relinquishing their strangle hold of dominating the race in years gone by, coming second. Biggsy/Arthur third. Carol/Alice 1st, Hillary/Kate 2nd.

This is strictly for those who are either on official supported carrier like at&t, or have already upgraded to 3

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