Paddling the Bivane River

first_imgKevin DavieAs with most things, South Africans are spoilt for choice when it comes to paddleable rivers.For a country that is water-challenged, canoeists have many rivers to choose from in all provinces, and some events, notably the Dusi and the Fish, are part of the national sporting consciousness.But ask even outdoorsy South Africans if they know of the Bivane River and chances are they have not heard of it. The river is a secret, even to some canoeists.For the past seven or so years canoeists have been making an annual pilgrimage to paddle this little-known river.The Bivane starts near Vryheid in the most northern part of KwaZulu-Natal. A privately-owned dam has been built by sugar farmers downstream of the Bivane along the Pongola River. This allows an additional 3 000 hectares of sugarcane to be grown annually.A controlled release also allows for paddlers and rafters to trip the rapids of the Bivane and Pongola.An annual race held in November attracts about 200 two-man kayaks. Paddlers take in the 30km adrenalin rush from below the dam to the confluence of the Pongola where the river broadens.The finish is a further 10 kilometres downstream in the excellent Ithala game reserve.The area is entirely uninhabited. There are no farms, no houses, no kraals and just a single fence. The area is so remote that canoeists are warned that if they break their boats they should not attempt to walk out of the valley as chances are they will not be found for several days.Rather, you wait for a flotilla of inflatable rafts which follow at the back of the field. You leave your broken mess of fibre glass. This will be picked up a week later by the organisers.The river is rated A-plus, meaning you have to be experienced and wear both a life jacket and helmet.A repair kit and spare paddle are also essential as the river is a boat-eater.The area has had little rainfall and the dam is low, meaning that the water release, at six cubic metres a second, will be about half of that of what canoeists have come to expect.The “bony” river also means that there is likely to be even greater damage to our boats as lines will be tighter and we can expect to whack more rocks in the rapids.There are plenty of rapids – about 60 – in the 42 kilometres we will paddle. Many are boat breakers. Some even have marshals on standby, wearing either green (okay to shoot), yellow (shoot at your on risk) or red (get out and portage) T-shirts.At the first marshalled rapid the officials have changed their shirts from red to yellow. A line of broken boats are on the bank, their owners making makeshift attempts to fix them.The gorge is as beautiful as it is remote. The rapids are exhilarating and, in cases, mind-focusing. The low level means lines have to be carefully picked in the approach to a rapid, the boat continually turned to find a way through the rocks, and then, as you find the main current and the river drops, you have an adrenalin rush as you surge through the white water.My own race is a conservative one. There are many things which can go wrong and no shortage of rapids which can end your race. We portage a handful of rapids where we see that some canoeists in front of us have come to grief.A few times we have swum (canoeist parlance for capsizing) and have had to stop and fix an errant rudder, but both paddlers and boat are in good shape as we exit the most hectic part of this journey, the Bivane, and join the Pongola.The organisers told us at the pre-race briefing that there are crocodiles in the Pongola, but that crocodiles eat fish, not canoeists.My partner, Mike, and I are feeling strong and pulling hard for the last hour or so as we cruise the Pongola. But the wider river means that the river is bonier. We have about five kilometres to go (according to Mike’s GPS) and are picking our way down a rapid.A rock knocks us off course. A second puts us at right angles to the river against another, large rock.Within seconds the boat starts breaking. Mike is out of the boat in perhaps four or five seconds, but it is too late. We have wrapped completely around the rock.I’m out and unhook the broken K2 from the rock, swimming after Mike with the boat.He grabs the boat and, without discussion, says he will swim it to the other side of the river, the right-hand bank, which is the same side as the finish. We can then carry the broken boat to the finish. I follow.The river is only about 50 metres wide, but it seems to take an eternity rather than a minute or so to get out of the water.We have repair kit, tape and bandages. The latter come in an air-tight container. You open the package and immerse the contents in water. The boat is then taped with the bandage which creates a solid bond in about 20 minutes.But our break is across the cockpit. We can fix it with a bandage but it means that one of us will not be able to get into the boat.We decide to carry. The bush is thick. This is my first encounter with the haak and steek (hook and attach) bush. The haak grabs you, and the steek goes in deep as you move.If you were hiking and got hooked, you’d stop. The problem with carrying a K2 is that your partner at the back does not know that you are impaled on a thorn bush and carries on pushing from the back.We put down the boat on the river’s edge to consider our options. We hear voices from behind a thick blanket of bush. The voices belong to two game rangers who are on poacher control.They are only about five metres from us, but we cannot see them, nor them us.They confirm there are crocodiles in the river.“These crocodiles,” Mike asks, “are they big or small?”“Big. All of them,” the female of the two voices answers.They also tell us there are buffalo and rhino (black and white) in the area, but no lions.Their advice is to paddle a short distance to beyond a cliff we can see a few hundred metres downstream. There is a path just behind this cliff all the way to the finish.And so it is, with a combination of carrying a battered and bandaged boat, paddling short sections (as the water level in the boat got higher and higher), we made our way to the finish.If there’s a moral in this story I’m not sure what it is. Perhaps it’s this: if you’re going to paddle a broken boat in crocodile-inhabited waters, make sure they prefer fish to canoeists.As a journalist Kevin Davie is a Nieman Fellow and editor of numerous South Africa business magazines and newspapers. As an Internet entrepreneur he co-founded South Africa’s first online stockbroker and WOZA, the first news portal which was independent of a traditional publisher.He divides his time between the Mail & Guardian, where he  runs the business section and pursues the twin interests of economics and environmentalism, and projects in construction (particularly green building) and a better way to search the Internet. He also makes time to paddle and ride his mountain bike.last_img read more

What OSU football must do to win against Illinois on Saturday

Ohio State flirted with defeating a ranked opponent against Nebraska, but came up empty-handed after a late-game meltdown. Saturday, the Buckeyes will look to upset No. 16-ranked Illinois. Offense I was hesitant to jump on the Braxton Miller bandwagon, but consider my bags packed. Under Miller, the Buckeyes held a 27-6 lead in the third quarter. Offensive coordinator Jim Bollman was dialing up misdirections, play-action passes and seemed to get rid of the “run on first and second down, pass on third, punt and repeat” philosophy. When Miller’s injury forced Joe Bauserman back into the game, the offense ceased to exist. OSU needs a healthy Miller behind center to keep the defense honest. When defenses are preoccupied with Miller’s legs, passing plays and running lanes open. Daniel “Boom” Herron is back this week and Bollman would be wise to feed him the ball. The Buckeyes are 18-1 in games in which Herron has at least 55 yards rushing and 20-3 in games in which he scores a touchdown. Fickell said that Herron will likely be seen on special teams, but he needs to factor in the offense too. Defense The Buckeyes defense picked up where it left off against Michigan State – but only for two quarters. They held the No. 1-ranked rushing offense to just 37 yards and six points in the first half. But in the second half, when the team needed the defense the most, they fell apart allowing 195 rushing yards and 28 points. The defense needs to force turnovers as they did in crucial situations against Michigan State. The Buckeyes forced just one Nebraska turnover, an interception, and that came in the first half. Being on the road again, the Buckeyes will have to fight momentum and the crowd. The easiest way to stop momentum is with a turnover from the defense. Senior defensive end Nate Williams is out for the year, so someone on the defense must step up as a permanent pass-rushing threat. In the disastrous second half against Nebraska, the Buckeyes again went without a quarterback sack. Special teams Fittingly, junior punter Ben Buchanan continues to be the Buckeyes’ best player. He downed a punt inside Nebraska’s 10-yard line as well as pinning the Cornhuskers inside their own 20-yard line twice, including a 55-yard boot. They will need him to help control the field position battle. Drew Basil has been reliable this season, hitting 7-of-9 field goal attempts and leading the Buckeyes in scoring. If OSU has a chance to put three points on the board, they would be wise to take them. If special teams are where Herron makes his appearances Saturday, he needs to make the most of them and provide the team with a spark. As senior offensive tackle Mike Adams showed against Nebraska, this team feeds off of a confident senior player. Coaching The coaches must come up with an offensive gameplan that is operational with or without Miller. As effective as Miller was against Nebraska, the offense cannot depend solely on him. A freshman scrambler is going to get beat around, and if he has to come off the field, the offense must continue to attack. And, if Miller goes down again, the coaches should take a good hard look at third-string sophomore quarterback Kenny Guiton. The Bauserman experiment has been tried, and it has failed – miserably. The offense couldn’t be any less effective under Bauserman. read more

Spalletti admitted that he wants to get Vrsaljko

first_imgSime Vrsaljko made it to the World Cup final against France and he has been nearing a move away from his current club, Atletico Madrid – Luciano Spalletti admitted that Inter Milan want to get him.The Croatia international was one of the brightest spots of the World Cup in Russia and it is understandable that he has become the transfer target of many clubs – and the Italian giants are working on signing him.Spalletti spoke about this possible move as he said that the situation remains unclear for him, according to Goal:Maurizio Sarri, JuventusMaurizio Sarri satisfied despite Juventus’ draw at Fiorentina Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Maurizio Sarri was satisfied with Juventus’ performance on Saturday afternoon after finishing a tough game at Fiorentina 0-0.“We like Vrsaljko. The directors are working, certain things will be defined once our preparations begin when our squad is more settled.”“As more days pass and we approach the deadline, the situations change.”“We’re working on the pitch, so [Piero] Ausilio [sporting director] and [Giovanni] Gardini [chief administrator] are thinking about it. You also know the positions we need covering.”last_img read more

Aussie boss set to make changes against the UAE

first_imgAustralia coach Graham Arnold is optimistic a squad rotation in the 2019 Asian Cup quarter-finals against the United Arab Emirates will be successful.The Socceroos scraped through to the last eight after beating Uzbekistan 4-2 on penalties in Al Ain.However, Arnold was furious with the decision to book Celtic midfielder Rogic which would rule out of the game against UAE in the quarter-finals.The Aussie boss was adamant the booking was harsh, though he is confident he has enough options and systems to keep UAE guessing on Friday.“The yellow card was a bit harsh because Tomi had no intent,” Arnold told reporters via FourFourTwo.“He just had the ball at his feet. These things happen. We have the options and I can change the system if we need to.“We’ll look at how UAE play, we’ll analyse them and, like I said, we’ve got plenty of options with different systems with these players that we can use.An Aussie is living the “European dream” Manuel R. Medina – June 19, 2019 Defender George Timotheou is playing with Schalke in the German Bundesliga after he couldn’t appear even once in the Australian League.“I could change play with two strikers, two number nines, we could play with a diamond midfield.“One good thing is we don’t have to travel. We’re here in Al Ain, they have to travel down here. Our boys are extremely fit and they’ll be able to back up.”SET YOUR ALARMS ⏰The @Socceroos face hosts the United Arab Emirates on Australia Day morning.#GoSocceroos #TogetherAsOne #AsianCup2019— Socceroos (@Socceroos) January 21, 2019last_img read more

Mourinho Neymar must win with Brazil to match Pele

first_imgJose Mourinho believes Neymar will have to win big with Brazil before he can start being compared to the likes of Pele.The 26-year-old is widely regarded among the top players in the world on the back of impressive spells at Barcelona and now Paris Saint-Germain.Aside from regularly finding the net for both clubs, Neymar has also won league titles in Spain and France along with winning the Champions League in 2015.The Brazilian superstar’s clever little tricks along with his dribbling and playmaking skills have won plenty of admirers and seen him being compared to Pele.The duo both started out their respective playing careers at Santos in Brazil with Neymar even confessing once that he views Pele as a role model.Unlike the three-time World Cup winner, however, Neymar’s sole success on the international stage has come at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.The PSG forward has come up short in Brazil’s last two World Cup campaigns, which saw them lose 7-1 to Germany at home in the semi-final stage in 2014 before being knocked out by Belgium in the quarter-finals at Russia last summer.Therefore, Mourinho reckons that the talented Neymar still has a long way to go before he can be put on a similar level to other Selecao greats.Opinion: Neymar needs to apologize to PSG’s supporters Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 14, 2019 After such a dramatic summer during the transfer window, Neymar truly needs to apologize to all the PSG supporters this weekend.When Neymar finished last…The former Manchester United boss made these comments after Brazilian football magazine, Placar, declared Neymar as Brazil’s best player since Pele.“Neymar is a fantastic talent and nobody can doubt that,” said Mourinho, according to Goal.“He came to Europe and won immediately.“But I think they forgot players that were the best of the world at some point, such as Ronaldo and Rivaldo, just citing two, and I could remember more.“They also came to Europe and were fantastic, but beyond that, they passed through this special situation in a country’s life that is succeeding on the international level.“Neymar will keep fighting to be on Europe’s elite, where he already is, and this [winning with Brazil] will continue to be a dream for him”Neymar is currently recovering from a foot injury that he sustained in PSG’s  2-0 Coupe de France win over RC Strasbourg last month.KAZAN, RUSSIA – JULY 06: Neymar Jr of Brazil goes down injured during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Quarter Final match between Brazil and Belgium at Kazan Arena on July 6, 2018 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)last_img read more