Firstly, a very Happy New Year. Our first newsletter for 2021. I don’t want to be the guy who says that there is no way that this year can possibly be worse than last year, but I am an optimist. So here goes.
Hectic times we live in.
During the hard lockdown of the first wave of this virus I used to examine the covid statistics on a daily basis.
A couple of hundred infections and a handful of deaths. The lockdown restrictions appeared like a knee jerk reaction of the highest order. Almost none of us knew of anyone who had become infected, let alone having succumbed.
The second wave has been a whole new story. We now hear of close friends, family members and colleagues suffering from the virus on a daily basis, and many who have not survived.
The return to level 3 restrictions has impacted on many facets of our lives, not least of all on our ability to participate in our sport.
Due to some effort early in the lockdown process, we have been fortunate to maintain a degree of participation, both in training and competition.
With many parts of the world returning to full lockdown and a rampant increase in infection statistics in this country, it would be naïve to think that all will return to normal on the 15th of this month.
The likelihood of increased restrictions is almost a definite.
In light of this, the organisers of 3 of the largest paddling races in the country have put their heads together and taken the difficult and mutual decision to postpone their events.
The decisions were not taken lightly and were driven by a range of factors, including the lack of availability of medical personnel, increased difficulty in gaining permission from local authorities, increased limitation on movement and pressure from sponsors who did not wish to be seen to be associated with an event that could be placing people at risk.
Covid restrictions permitting, March is now going to be a very busy month, with the Dusi on the 18th to the 20th, and the Umko on the 27th and 28th.
There will not be any latitude to postpone these events any later in the year, as they are reliant on rainfall.
Fortunately, the latter has been provided in abundance over the past few weeks. Midmar dam is now overflowing. Inanda dam is almost full and should start overflowing soon. With the large volume that is flowing into Midmar at the moment, and with further rains predicted for next week, Albert Falls Dam should fill up quickly. Once it does, the entire Umgeni system will be full, which augers well for some epic releases for the Dusi.
A number of other race organisers have also had to take the soul destroying decision to postpone. The PE to East London has been set for later this year and the Marine surf ski series has pulled the plug until further notice.
There has been much confusion regarding the legality of paddling at venues around the country, and we have been inundated with correspondence to provide clarity. I will try to provide some perspective on this, but please do not quote me to your local constabulary as they toss you into the back of their van.
Our interpretation of the latest government gazette is that all CSA registered paddlers are allowed to continue to train, as long as they can provide a letter from the federation stating this (mad scramble for those who have been dodging paying their affiliation fees. Some members are hearing about Dotcloud for the first time. Others are asking for letters when they do not even belong to the federation)
We have been flooded with requests for these letters, and to date, we have processed around 950. This has been a mammoth task, especially over the peak of the holiday season. A huge thanks to the tireless Janet for accommodating so many paddlers.
The letter from the federation is no automatic panacea to your paddling aspirations. The success of your endeavours rests squarely on the shoulders of your local authority and their interpretation of the government restrictions and, ultimately, on their appetite for enforcing them.
We have been lucky in that the majority appear to accept the letters and allow our members to access facilities.
Notwithstanding the reaction of your local authority, it is going to be extremely counterproductive to be confrontational. We certainly do not wish for a situation where one Rambo manages to put a spanner in the works for an entire federation.
Yip, each club has one.
So, be safe, be responsible, be understanding and accommodating. We are fortunate to be still on the water (mostly). Don’t poke Mr. Plod.
Until next week.
And the joke.
An Englishman, a Scotsman, an Irishman, Welshman, a Latvian, a Turk, a German, an Indian, several Americans (including a Hawaiian and an Alaskan), an Argentinean, a Dane, an Australian, a Luxembourger, an Egyptian, a Japanese, a Moroccan, a Frenchman, a New Zealander, a Ni Vanuatu, a Nepalese, a Spaniard, a Russian, a Guatemalan, a Colombian, a Mongolian, a Pakistani, a Malaysian, a Croatian, a Uzbek, a Cypriot, a Pole, a Lithuanian, a Chinese, a Sri Lankan, a Lebanese, a Cayman Islander, a Ugandan, a Vietnamese, a Korean, a Uruguayan, a Czech, an Icelander, a Mexican, a Finn, a Honduran, a Panamanian, an Andorran, an Israeli, a Venezuelan, an Iranian, a Fijian, a Peruvian, an Estonian, a Syrian, a Brazilian, a Portuguese, a Liechtensteiner, a Mongolian, a Hungarian, a Canadian, a Moldovan, a Haitian, a Norfolk Islander, a Macedonian, a Bolivian, a Cook Islander, a Tajikistani, a Samoan, an Armenian, an Aruban, an Albanian, a Greenlander, a Micronesian, a Virgin Islander, a Georgian, a Bahaman, a Belarusian, a Cuban, a Tongan, a Cambodian, a Finn, a Canadian, a Slovenian, a Qatari, an Azerbaijani, a Malagasy, a Romanian, a Chilean, a Jamaican, a Filipino, a Ukrainian, a Dutchman, an Ecuadorian, a Costa Rican, a Swede, a Bulgarian, a Serb, a Swiss, a Greek, a Belgian, a Singaporean, an Italian, a Norwegian, a Zimbabwean and several other Africans, …
… walk into a fine restaurant.
“I’m sorry,” says the Maitre D’, after scrutinizing the group.
“You can’t come in here without a Thai.”