It’s all systems go for N3TC Drak Challenge

2016-01-21 06:00

THE organisers of the weekend’s N3TC Drak Challenge have given the green light for the popular paddling race to go ahead as scheduled on Saturday and Sunday.

This ends months of speculation about the water level in the uMzimkhulu River that has been hard hit by drought.

Following a thunderstorm high in the Southern Drakensberg that sent the levels of the river up by over half-a-metre last week, race committee members­ have been closely monitoring the level of the uMzimkhulu at four points along the 65 km race course and have been gratified to see that the surge has had a significant positive effect on the overall river level.

“The base level has definitely improved after last week’s storm,” said race committee head Barry Cole. “We can now confidently say that the race will go ahead this weekend and we have all the infrastructure heading to Underberg this week ahead of the race.

“At worst, it will be a low level start at the Trout Hatcheries, which our paddlers are familiar with,” Cole added.

“There are thunderstorms forecast for every day this week, though, including decent rain forecast for Friday­, and if that falls in the right place then we will not hesitate to start the race at the usual start at Castleburn.”

Last year, the race bosses took the courageous decision to start the race from Castleburn despite the river running at a level below the footings at the bridge, which had been for many years the widely accepted cut-off level for racing from the top of the river.

The big field of paddlers responded warmly to this decision and almost all of them thoroughly enjoyed the technical demands of the Valley of a Thousand­ Rapids at a low level, including eventual race winner Andy Birkett, who showered praise on the race organisers for their brave decision.

Cole said that the recent rise in the base flow of the river had come at just the right time for the race, after the annual FastDrak race had to be postponed at the end of December because the base flow of the river was too low to race on.

The race has been providing daily photo updates of the river levels on their website, Facebook and Twitter accounts to ensure that paddlers are fully aware of exactly what is happening on the river.

- Reuters.

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