• Eastern Cape Rising Sun

Paddlers battle the elements for favourable son

By Nikki Birkett

The Border Canoe Club has something about it which is different and makes it very special. It is like a large family clan, with a culture of caring and support that runs in the DNA of all its members.

It was built on a foundation created by families, like the ‘tough as teak’ Johnny Woods and his family.

More than 50 of the toughest paddlers lined up on Saturday, facing the onslaught of bitterly cold, rainy, and windy conditions, to take on a 17km race in support of Greg aka “Woody” in his battle against cancer.

The paddlers gave it their all, with the young Fenn protégés (Josh and Matt) taking first and second place and Bulla Wood scooping a third.

An exciting doubles race saw Duncan Boyd and Luke Sweeney taking the line honours, with the Brendon Thompson / Richard Tebbutt and Dale Heitman / Chris Batting teams close on their heels.

It was a challenging race thoroughly enjoyed by all, and set the scene for an on-line auction, a world-first for a canoe club.

This was a tribute to an amazing team including, amongst others, Charl van Wyk (Initiator of this event) and Gary Atkinson.

The irrepressible and entertaining father-son duo of Brendon and Jayme Thompson, skillfully proceeded to unlock the hearts and wallets of generous canoeists, locally and internationally. They were aided by some marketing and advice from Oscar Chalupsky, who is fighting his own battle against cancer.

The bidding was fast and furious, and a substantial sum was raised thanks to the generosity of everyone who contributed.

Raz Tebbutt regaled us with some wonderful stories and memories of many adventures where Johnny, Steve, and Greg were always an integral part.

He recalled how Greg, as a young lifesaver, won most of the events, moving with ease between juniors and seniors. He was a prodigious talent in all water sports. Gary Atkinson, after seeing “Team Woods” getting circulated in a big suck back in a raging Kei River rapid, described their philosophy as, “When you think you have reached the end of your rope in a rapid, tie a knot in it and hang on.” Greg, although you are going through a tough time, tie that knot and know that we are all with you.

Greg has had time to reflect on life and realises how important family, friends, and communities are. Central to Richard Tebbutt’s message was that “the best and most beautiful things in the world, can not be seen or touched, they must be felt with the heart.”

Our prayers are with you. We look forward to seeing you back on the water, unleashing that talent of yours and hurting the front bunch.

Paddlers set off as early as 5.30am. Photo By Joe Clarke


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