Paarl - With the Berg River Dam overflowing and steady rains forecast between now and the inaugural edition of the Push And Pull Paddle, the big field of canoeists can look forward to a full and fast flowing Berg River for the three days of paddling.
The succession of cold fronts that have swept over the Western Cape this month have all brought considerable rains, with the Berg flowing at over 200 cubic metres per second at times.
Paddlers have been capitalising on the good water levels and getting to grips with the little known section of river between the Berg River Dam and Paarl, where the annual Berg River Canoe Marathon starts.
A week ago the rains bumped up the water level in the Berg River Dam to 92 percent and the latest deluge from the cold front that buffeted the Western Cape finally filled the dam above Paarl to spilling point. A year ago at this time the dam was 86 percent full.
The organisers are positive that the full river will provide superb conditions for the paddlers entered for next weekend’s race.
"We have tripped the entire section at the current full river levels and it is superb paddling!" said Alan Houston. "There are good waves in the rapids and the fuller river makes the trees easier to navigate.
"The river is flowing well which will make for fun conditions and faster paddling times," he added.
He pointed out that danger points such as the big weir below the Market Street Bridge in Paarl were always going to be compulsory portages, ensuring the safety of every paddler entered.
Houston said that the long term weather forecast pointed to another big cold front hitting the area in the days before the race, with regular rainfall to keep the river topped up during the race.
"We couldn't have scripted it any better," he said.
Theewaterskloof, the biggest dam in the Western Cape, has seen its level increase by 8.6 percent from last week, to reach 61.7 percent. On the West Coast the Clanwilliam Dam has risen by 24.3 percent to 71.6 percent in the past week.
News of the expected full rivers has triggered excitement in local paddling circles, resulting in late entries flowing into the race office.