Canoeists around the world mourned the tragic passing of Olympian, international slalom paddler and former president of Canoeing South Africa, Alick Rennie, who died in an light aircraft crash on Wednesday afternoon aged 54.
A hugely popular figure in river racing, slalom and wild water circles, Rennie represented South Africa at the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992 as part of the team assembled for the nation’s readmission to the Olympic fold, and was a multiple national slalom and wild water champion, as well as being a particularly skilled marathoner in rough water.
He was a tireless administrator and ran the discipline of slalom racing at a provincial level before assuming the role of president of the Canoeing South Africa where his open and accessible style of administration won him the respect of the paddling community in South Africa.
He had a network of friends around the globe and often hosted international paddlers at his home in Pietermaritzburg, introducing them to the variety of races on big rivers in South Africa.
“We are devastated to hear of the passing of a great athlete, a highly respected administrator and a remarkable, selfless individual. The canoeing community is significantly poorer for this untimely loss,” said Canoeing South Africa’s president Christo Horn.
Friends who worked and paddled with Rennie shared their shock at his sudden passing, uniformly recalling his selfless character, patience, and his passion for passing on knowledge to younger athletes.
“He was the hardest and most talented paddler I have ever had the privilege to share a K2 with,” said his former paddling partner Mark Jamieson.
“He was one of the nicest guys to have graced our sport,” said Canoeing South Africa’s Acting General Manager Colin Simpkins. “Nothing was ever too much trouble for him.”
Rennie, who was widely respected as an extremely accomplished pilot and was a chief flying instructor at the Pietermaritzburg Aero Club, was flying back to his farm in Underberg with trainee pilot Dave Grosvenor, when they were forced to make an emergency landing in sugar cane around Richmond that claimed their lives.
He leaves behind his wife Caron and year-old daughter Alison, as well as children Katy and Iain from his previous marriage.