Paddling started off with a bang this year as between 40 and 50 boys turned out to paddle/swim at Blue Lagoon on Mondays and Thursdays. Most of these boys were beginners and only about 12 paddlers were river proficient and competing in races.
Due to the high number of novices, coaching has had to pay a lot more attention to beginners than previously required. Coach Jabin Lyons has done a great job in bringing a number of these paddlers up to club-dice standard as well as taking the competitive paddlers to the next level.
During term one it became apparent that many of the new boys saw paddling as a ‘social’ sport not requiring much more than a social paddling trip to the river once per week. We therefore had to make it clear to all paddlers that they were there to learn to compete. We implemented a progress schedule that monitored the progress of every paddler towards the goal of competing in school races.
Our competitive paddlers was made up of 2 general groups of boys. Firstly, a close-knit group of Matric boys who were more ‘social-racing’ paddlers and secondly, a younger group of emerging ‘serious-racing’ paddlers.
Keagan Kok, Jason Ward and Josh Evered-Hall are our young, up-and-coming stars of the future. They are in the top 10 in KZN in their respective age-groups and are regular podium finishers. Keagan was invited to join the 2012 KZN Schools paddling academy in Pietermaritzburg. These boys continue to improve and impress and I foresee much greater things from them in Westville colours in the future.
In February, Josh made history when he completed this year’s Dusi in a K3 with his Dad and his Grand-Dad. This has never been done before; what a great achievement and wonderful privilege to do this with family.
The former-mentioned ‘social-competitors’ have been worth a lot more to Westville Boys High School than mere school representatives. They have certainly done more than their bit to fly the Westville flag high.
In January Luke Tomlinson appeared on the centre-fold of ‘the Paddler’ magazine shooting the treacherous Drak Challenge rapid ‘Black Murray’ in excellent fashion. Since he was still upright and in total control by the time he reached the photographers midway through the notorious monster-rapid, there is a great shot of him in action boasting a great big Westville Boys’ High sticker on the back of his boat.
The paddling honours for the year should go to Daniel Finezzi and Luke, who apart from completing the Dusi together also received the Dusi’s Fletcher Campbell Trophy at the Dusi awards ceremony for their selfless and heroic rescue of a fellow paddler in distress. Daniel and Luke stopped to help a paddler whose boat was damaged and whose life was in danger as he was trapped against a rock in a rapid. Once they had freed him, our Westville boys sacrificed their boat to let the hurt paddler and his partner get to safety while our boys piloted the damaged boat down the river. The story was printed in the Mercury on 20-February this year; another wonderful advert for Westville because of two outstanding and humble young men who did us very proud.
Daniel and Luke are part of larger group of Matric paddlers who have set a wonderful example for the younger paddlers this year at practices and races. They have all contributed in assisting and mentoring the younger paddlers in an outstanding manner. They will be sorely missed in 2013.
A big thank you to parents Dave Harker and Trevor Griffiths for their ongoing commitment to ensure that our boys reach competition status and beyond. Your efforts are really appreciated.
MIC Paddling: Robbie Young