*Fuzzy Photos and Unreliable Tasting Notes
There are few benefits to Covid lockdown but one of them is doing stuff like attempting to archive ancient transparencies and then getting completely sidetracked.
Some of these fuzzy photos have some creative merit and many are pure nostalgia. Most of them require some level of verification by digging around for provenance. Provenance often comes in dribs and drabs and then the dam breaks. I already have a tribute to a Durban legend, Solange Raffray, in the starting blocks.
Now while furtling around in my paddling pics I have been saddened to uncover the death of another Durban legend, Graeme Pope-Ellis. I must have been the only avid 70s paddler not to have known. He died in a tractor accident in 2010, aged 62.
For those who are unaware of the Dusi Canoe Marathon, it is a three-day race between the two Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban and has been described as one of the toughest events in the world. It is essentially a Kayak event but there are certain sections that require portaging up the steep sides of the uMsundusi and uMngeni rivers.
Graeme won it 15 times in 18 years. Three of the victories were in a K1.
When I returned from London in 1976 he had already won the Dusi 5 times. He continued to win in the two following years, events in which I also participated albeit at a much more modest level. Graeme spurred us on with veteran advice (he was not yet 30) in pre-Dusi briefings at our Kingfisher Canoe Club (KCC).
Most of us plodded doggedly over the portage sections. The following is photographic evidence that Graeme, and his then partner Peter Peacock, did not plod. They didn't even run, they levitated. The white kayak is easily spotted with its number 1, earned from winning the previous year's event.
The low flying Pope-Ellis/Peacock combo inspired me to scan a bunch of other transparencies in a box in our Oxfordshire attic and publish them as an adjunct to this mini-blog for fellow enthusiasts (sufferers) to enjoy if they are so inclined.
There are a few shots from Hella Hella on the Umkomaas. Others are taken at random events around KZN in 77/78, culminating in the Dusi in that February. There are also a few nostalgic moments from the "Dice", the weekly time trial run by KCC at Durban's Blue Lagoon.
While the transparencies happen to be in my possession, I have no idea who took the originals except for the Umkomaas shots that were taken by yours truly. Given that quite a few of the others have me in them there must have been at least one other photographer involved. Prime suspects would be Carmela (pictured in the collection dangling a Pentax around her neck) and my late brother Paul, who I cannot consult for obvious reasons.
I suspect he took the one of me below, though. He supported me in that event, aged 12. I had been hoping that one day we'd be able to do it together.
Feel free to dip into the library on this site for a little bit of history. Maybe you took one or two of the pics or have a little more information to add? Feedback is always appreciated.
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