This weekend the worldwide paddling community will unite for the seventh annual Paddle For The Planet global relay as a show of solidarity to protect the worlds waterways and oceans and to raise funds for the environmental conservation projects close to the paddlers hearts.
The relay takes the form of informally organised paddling sessions co-ordinated by paddlers who train and race in recreational or competitive canoes, kayaks, surfskis, dragonboats, outriggers and stand-up paddle boards in every corner of the globe, hoping to improve on the 28 nations that participated last year.
This year paddlers have already confirmed paddles-outs in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tahiti, The United States, Dubai, South Africa, The Phillipines, Trinidad and Tobago and Doha, with many other paddling communities set to join in on the day and post pictures and videos of their participation on the Paddle For The Planet Facebook page.
The global relay is a show of unity in support of waterway and marine conservation and is formally backed by the International Canoe Federation.
Each of the regional paddle-outs is encouraged to identify and support a waterway or marine conservation initiative, and support it through fundraising or volunteering to assist with its operations.
South Africa is going to be a prominent player in championing the day with a number of paddle-outs planned. In KwaZulu-Natal the Geriatski’s are having a paddle on Saturday and Sunday’s Illovo Pirates Umhlanga Pirates race will also have a paddle-out.
Fenn Kayaks are organising a paddle-out on Saturday in East London and Mocké Paddling will be leading one in the Western Cape at 7am at Three Anchor Bay.
Last year the programme raised R60 000,00 for the pioneering Booms, Bins and Bags project operated by the Durban Umgeni Conservation Trust (DUCT) on the Eastern seaboard of South Africa, which uses new physical barriers to trap plastic waste before it pollutes rivers and estuaries in urban areas of KZN.
The project has been hailed an unqualified success, and is being seen as a blueprint for the roll out of preventative measure elsewhere in the world.
“At its heart, Paddle For The Planet is a conservation initiative, and an annual wake-up call to focus attention on environmental threats to all our rivers and oceans,” said the projects director Dr Thea van der Westhuizen.
“But just as importantly it is a special opportunity for paddlers from every walks of life to symbolically join hands in this global relay,” she added.
The Paddle for The Planet Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/Paddlefortheplanet/