N3TC Drak Challenge
N3TC Drak organisers reassure paddlers, saying #RainMustFall.
Underberg- Following the decision to postpone the FastDrak canoe race on the
weekend due to the unusually low water levels in the Mzimkulu River, the
organisers of the N3TC Drak Challenge Canoe Marathon on 23 and 24 January
have reassured paddlers that they have contingency plans in place to
safeguard the hugely popular two day canoeing race.
The El Nino-driven drought has hit the Southern Drakensberg hard, and
despite regular summer thunderstorms the depleted groundwater level has
ensured that little of that rainfall has translated into run-off into the
major rivers, leaving the Mzimkulu at its lowest level in nearly 30 years.
With the popular N3TC Drak Challenge attracting close to a thousand entries
each year, the race organising committee from the Canyon Kayak Club has
stressed that they have a number of options under consideration, should they
“We continue to get regular storms, and our weather forecasting models point
to more of these on a regular basis between now and the end of January,”
said race committee chair Barry Cole.
A cloudburst on the weekend left one of the tributaries of the Mzimkulu in
spate, and for the first time this summer the river showed signs of rising.
“Let’s never forget what happened in 2013,” he added. “We were preparing for
a low level start, and a storm on the Friday night left the river in flood.
The year before we raced a low first day, and a Saturday night storm sent
the river up a metre.
“The reality is that we will only make a final call on the race format just
before the race because storms can, and do, have a major and pretty quick
impact on the river level.
Cole said that four times in the race’s 22 year history the start has been
moved downstream to the Trout Hatcheries because of low water conditions,
and the shortened version had been well received by the paddlers.
“This year’s situation is unusual, and we are exploring a number of options
to make sure that we don’t disappoint the hundreds of paddlers who loyally
support this event,” said Cole.
He hinted at alternative courses that might include repeating sections of
river that are better suited to low water paddling, bolting on flatwater
stages on some of the picturesque local dams that are close to the Mzimkulu,
and even possibly incorporating sections of other local rivers that are more
paddleable than the Mzimkulu on the weekend of the race.
“We are passionate about this race, the fun and value for money it offers
the paddlers, and the major impact that it has on the local economy, and we
will do everything in our power to make sure it happens satisfactorily,”
“While this has been a dry summer for paddlers, who usually spend much of
the December holidays tripping and playing on the Mzimkulu, let’s never
forget that the negative impact of this drought for the paddlers is
insignificant when compared to the devastating effect it has had on the
local farmers, who are really battling to cope with the drought.
“As paddlers passionate about the race and this district, we are all hoping
that the rains we all need are not too far away,” he added.
Paddlers hoping to enjoy the N3TC Drak
Challenge have started a viral social media campaign insisting that #RainMustFall.
The N3TC Drak Challenge takes place on Saturday 23 and
Sunday 24 January 2016.
information can be found at www.drak.co.za
Click to download the hi-res
The N3TC Drak Challenge 2016 Logo - JPeg
Paddlers are hoping for steady
rainfall before the 2016
N3TC Drak Challenge on 23 and 24 January. The paddling community has started
a viral social media campaign #RainMustFall.
Passionate Drak paddlers perform
a rain dance in the low Mzimkulu River hoping for consistent rainfall before
the start of the 2016
N3TC Drak Challenge on 23 and 24 January.
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