Monday, 13 February 2012

It's Just a Trip Down The River

A report on the Rusape River Race dated sometime in the 1970's

By Herald Reporter John Dalling

YOU can't get, more Rhodesian than the Rusape River Boat Race; It's hard-playing fun with just a spice of danger to stiffen the boisterous slapdash nature of the event.

Many of the entrants don't treat it as a race at all but as a trip down the river, travelling the way they like with their smokes, drinks and girls.

One competitor who finished the 8 km course paddling solo was asked where his partner had got to.

"Stopped at the Crocodile Motel for a drink." was the reply.

A record 742 people entered, manning; 231 craft —tire tubes tied together with sticks and string.

Rusape brothers Gavin and Patrick Woest won first and second prizes respectively.

Gavin (20) was partnered by Kosie Smit (21). They finished in 1 hour 15 minutes 58 seconds,

Patrick (18) was partnered by Stuart Tennent (16), Their time was 1 hour 17 min, 48 sec.

Rhodesia Herald cartoonist Vic Mackenzie and Brian Harker of Salisbury were third in 1h 24 min, 48sec,

The first women's team was Mrs. Sheila Foulis and Mrs. Maureen van der Merwe of Rusape*


The first mixed team, Miss Caroline Goschen(18), her brother Charles (16), of Rusape, and Jonathan Ludgater (18), won the Beverley Cumming Memorial Trophy given in memory of the Salisbury girl who drowned in last year's event, Her parents Mr. and Mrs. Tom Gumming, of Hillside Road, Hillside, watched the race, and her brother Alan took part this year.

Although life - jackets were . recommended as part of an extra drive for safety, a minority of competitors wore them.

Marshals equipped with walkie-talkie radio sets were on duty at possible danger spots.

News 1, Some of those in the race
Above: IT MAY look chaotic—and it is. But that's all part of the fun of the Rusape River Boat Race. A team takes some organizing when the front is a long way from the back and there are only tied" together tire tubes between.

Below: The winning women's team, Mrs. Maureen van der Merwe (left) and Mrs. Sheila Foulis.
News 2, The winning women's team, Mrs Maureen van der Merwe (left) and Mrs Sheila Foulis.

BELOW: This was the head of yesterday's queue of 742 competitors.
News 3, This was the head of yesterday's queue of 742 competitors.

End of the Rhodesia Herald Article.

Vic Mackenzie has kindly made the following cartoons, photos and report below available to ORAFs

Rusape River Race
By Vic Mackenzie

The original Rhodesian river race was started in Rusape. It all began as a bet in the Balfour Hotel pub when Solly Ferreira (yes the same RRAF pilot) claimed he could float all the way down the Lesapi River from the Silverbow bridge to the Chiduku bridge and not fall off his raft (tubes). There are some pretty nasty rapids just before the Crocodile Motel so there were plenty of bet takers.

The whole bar emptied one Friday evening to witness Solly's ride down the slimy greasy Lesapi River. Most of them headed for the worst rapids near the Crocodile Motel where they feared or wished Solly would be swept into the the swirling abyss. However Solly was a man of impeccable timing. He chose to go down the river after the first really heavy rainstorm where the large volume water covered the rocks and negated the effect of the rapids.

He managed to remain upright on his tube all the way down to the Chiduku bridge and win the bet. We all made our way back to the pub where Solly in typical Ferreira style spent all his winnings on supplying free drinks until the money ran out.

Following Solly's epic journey the first race was organized and opened to the public. It ran for a number of years until the security situation in the Rusape area got out of hand. I taught in Rusape and tried really hard to win that race but only managed to finish second or third a couple of times. It was always won by locals who knew the river.

Below: Solly just after receiving his Wings with 3 SSU in August 1953
Solly, Solly Ferreira of 3 SSU

Ctn 1, Vic Mackenzie artwork

CTN 2, Vic Mackenzie artwork

Vic1, Vic and friend

Vic 2, Racing

End of Article.

Thanks to Vic for sharing his memories with ORAFs.

A question from ORAFs - could the John Ludgater mentioned in the newspaper article be the same chap that got his Wings with 31 PTC? ORAFs has him on ORAFs and living in New Zealand?

Also please remember that comments are always very welcome. Send them to orafs11@gmail,com

Tags. Rhodesia, Rusape.


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At 14 February 2012 at 15:37 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Jon Ludgater Writes:-

Guilty as charged, Charles Goschen was a close mate at the time and we had his sister Caroline as ballast. She got the trophy and the evening in the pub! The booze did not help with the Bill Harris either. The Goschens farmed near Rusape and the old man, Donald, was a board member for RBC.

At 19 February 2012 at 16:23 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Brian (Crack-one) (RhAF) Goodwin

I seem to remember one year 5Sqn. entered a couple of teams. We went down the day before and spent the night with lots of others sleeping in the Hotel bar.We had robbed all the inner tubes from the Recovery Wheels for the Canberras.I personally was not a competitor, but was team manager which involved rushing from vantage point to vantage point and shouting encouragement to our team and lobbing bottles of Lion lager at them. I think one Sqn member was solo in a tube with a smaller tube on tow behind filled with a crate of beer. The whole weekend was rather hazy due to the affluence of incahol, and most names elude me, but Stroud, Emmerson, Vincent and Mace spring to mind. Perhaps some ex 5sqn member's memory is better than mine.

At 19 February 2012 at 16:25 , Blogger Rhodesia Remembered said...

Caroline Goschen Writes:-

Thank you so much for article - what memories it brought back! I still have the Beverley Cumming Memorial Trophy in pride of place on my sideboard and yes, the Jonathan Ludgater mentioned in the article is the same Jonathan Ludgater who got his Wings with 31 PTC and who now, as you know, lives in New Zealand.


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