Sunday, December 03, 2006

Day 3 - Boda Boda Boater Cross

So the most dangerous event yet… the Boda Boater Cross or the Boater Boda Cross – not sure which but anyway the idea is a kayak race down Silverback and then back to NRE on the back of a boda boda.
So 46 entrants, 46 boda bodas and with all the recent rain the road was a little muddy and slippery.
So four girls in this race and we knew that there were really two races. Becky and Prossie were racing for first while Andrea and I were in there for third and fourth. We got to start 10 minutes before the boys and the moment we started paddling out of the eddy I felt that my muscles were tired from the day before. So at the top of the first rapid I made the decision to run Ribcage rather than the Hump, as Ribcage is easier although a little slower. I was at the back of the group coming down ribcage and somehow managed to roll on nothing at all, rolling up I could hear Andrea calling my name but I could see her, coming round the island I saw her – stuck on the rock of the left of the little island after ribcage. Eddying out just near her I could see the problem, if she leant upstream she would become pinned on the upstream side of the rocks, she could not got off the rocks downstream as they were high on the downstream side of her boat and she was sitting there stuck in the middle of turbulent white water.
Pretty quickly I realized the only way she could get out was to get out of her boat onto the rock – if she got out on the upstream side she was risking trapping herself against the rocks. I was aware of hundreds of spectators on the bank as we were at the most accessible part of the river to watch the race. It was a weird feeling being there with so many people but being the only person in any position to do anything as the other two girls were ahead and hadn’t seen and no one else was in a kayak.
Andrea hesitated but then pulled her deck and managed to get out of her boat pushing it over the rocks into the water below, then she and her gear were in the water – she was swimming above Bujagali. I yelled at her to swim to the right bank and when I saw she would make it with no problem I started pushing her kayak towards the bank as well. I got the kayak into an eddy just above Bujagali falls and then ran the rapid looking for her paddling, not seeing it anyway I started to paddle off downstream but then people on the bank started yelling and pointing at the local fishing boat. They had picked up the paddle and I collected it from them and got it back to Andrea who was now at the bottom of the rapid with her boat having walked around.
Realising there wasn’t much point racing now we started paddling off only to see 42 male competitors come charging down Bujagali behind us so we let the leaders of that pack over stake before cruising on down to Silverback. Then it was up the muddy path to the boda bodas and my trusty boda boda driver put on the back of a “faster” boda boda back to NRE – not far up the trail we hit a patch of mud and the boda boda slid out from underneath us I landed on my back in the mud with my kayak on the top of me and the boda boda (luckily not the exhaust pipe) on my legs. Unhurt and rather amused I got up and insisted on walking past the rest of the mud patch before getting back on.
The rest of the trip was great – there were kayaks on boda bodas left right and center – in front of me and behind me the road was lined with local waving at us and everyone was having fun. Arriving back at NRE – after watching the boda in front of me veer off into the house to avoid loosing control – we were confronted with an obstacle course that we had to complete with our boda driver before our time stopped. It was a jumping castle covered in dish detergent. My first attempted to get up the initial ramp failed and my second ended in the mud in front of the castle as I wiped out before I even reached it. Then my boda driver took a running leap up and made the top so I ran and jumped and he grabbed my hand. After a few seconds of hilarious and undignified hauling and wallowing in soap suds he pulled me to the top where I promptly fell over the other side on top of him before regaining some kind of co-ordination and slithering through the rest to the end where we each had to down a Nile Special beer (in an NRE style funnel) before the clock stopped…. Phew!
Unfortunately one boda boda driver was injured in the event, he has a broken leg but all his medical costs are covered and last night we passed a hat round and he will have 300 000 ugsh to see him through until he can work again (equivalent to about three months wage).
The festival was wrapped up with a prize giving and footage and photos on the big screen and again a weary paddler dropping off to sleep before midnight when I should have been partying.

Oppps probably should give some results here, the womens boater-boda was won by Becky, the I was second and Andrea third (Prossi was disqaulified) and the men's was won by Joffrey, Henry was second and I can't remember who was third.


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