Paddlers of Old . .

. . meet at the Hops from time to time to swap words of wisdom and – as Greg Bennett says: “The older we get the better we were!” I feel like a bit of a fraud among these ancient fellas as not only did they always pull their paddles much harder than I ever did, most of them are still paddling! I hung up my paddle decades ago – and my paddle didn’t notice any difference . .

– millions of river miles – hectolitres of beer – centuries of ouderdom –

The gathering started when Chairman Allie Peter (him in red with the smooth pate) summoned ten paddlers who did the Berg together down in the freezing Cape winter back in 1983 for a debrief and an examination of why one would be so crazy as to do such a thing – 240km along a flat river, no rapids to play in, howling wind and lashing rain. I say “did the Berg together” generously, but actually nine Kingfisher Canoe Club paddlers in black T-shirts were in an awful hurry so I would watch them disappear into the distance straight after each day’s start, leaving me to meander peacefully along at the speed of the current. Which is how one should paddle if you’re not going to actually win the thing; and if the prize is not a red VW Beetle.

Then the gathering grew and now there’s dozens of ous each year – or twice a year. This year we were missing dear old Caveman, Herve de Rauville of the original ten. He has paddled his final flat-out interval.


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