Former Springbok captain Corné Krige completed his maiden Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon in Cradock this past weekend and in the process raised R70 000 for schools in desperate need of financial support in the Cradock area.
Despite the drive only being in its first year Krige was delighted with the final outcome of his team’s efforts and has pledged his support to the campaign on an annual basis in year.
“It was only the first year that we ran this campaign and so to have raised what we did is fantastic,” said Krige. “It’s been so pleasing to see how everyone came on board and offered their support so generously.”
“It’s great to know that we’re able to help others, especially young children, with this money and to see those children’s faces will be amazing,” he added.
Krige, who teamed up with his former high school friend Billy van Zyl and race committee chairman Pieter Marais in a K3 (three-seater kayak), admitted to being a little nervous going into the opening day of the two day spectacle.
Together with his relative lack of experience on a river he also had to overcome the difficult emotions the occasion brought back as he paddled with his late niece and nephew in mind whilst van Zyl, whose son drowned tragically six years ago, also had an emotional mountain to overcome going into the event.
EMOTIONAL, STRESSFUL TIME
The significance of the trio’s efforts to help other young children in need however soon took over and a near perfect adventure unfolded before them.
“We got our boat on Thursday afternoon so we hopped in and went for a very quick 30 minute paddle from Cradock Weir to the finish but other than that I had no idea what I was in for,” said Krige. “Fortunately we did quite well though and came through unscathed.”
“For both Billy (van Zyl) and I it was obviously quite an emotional and stressful time. It was particularly tough for Billy who lost a child to water six years ago and now had to conquer a bit of a fear and get back into water himself, so I was very glad to be there with him and try help through it all.”
“It was such a fantastic race to be part of all round though. I will definitely be back again next year and with it we’ll look to make the campaign an annual event,” he added.
The efforts by the former rugby star had already raised a significant amount towards what has become known as the Corné Krige Charity when it received a further boost when South Africa’s Olympic bronze medalist, Brigitte Hartley, generously donated one of her Olympic tops from the London Games for auctioning at Saturday’s prize giving with all proceeds going towards the drive as well.
Charity, especially the support of young children, is something particularly close to Hartley’s heart and the paddling sensation was thrilled to be able to support Krige’s campaign.
“I have quite a soft spot for charity and I’ve always hoped that my efforts and achievements when I paddle will help inspire people to achieve whatever they set out to. If there are however other ways that I can try use my name or achievements to help those in need out, then I love to help and this was definitely one of those times,” said Hartley.
“I’d try to help out as much as I could with selling stickers and a couple other odds and ends but with trying to prepare for my first river race since 2008 it was quite tough. So, I thought giving one of my Olympic tops to be auctioned would be a small way in which I could try help a little more,” she added.
Despite economic times being tough around the world the item’s popularity was soon clear for all to see as bidders battled it out for the coveted item.
“When I heard the opening price was R1 000 I thought there was no ways it would even be sold at all. Then as people started bidding and the price went up and up I just stood there with my mouth open. I couldn’t believe it!” said Hartley.
CLOSE TO CHILDREN
The item was finally sold to Port Elizabeth based Paul Lynch, himself a man who has a close tie to the support of children having been heavily involved in sport at a youth level for many years.
“I’ve been involved in the junior section of the local lifesaving club for years and was part of the nippers before that. I also spent many years as a mini hockey coach,” explained Lynch.
“This year’s Hansa Fish was my fourth Fish but this time I had the privilege of paddling with my sixteen year old daughter in her first Fish, and after just spending the past three months of training hard with her I really can appreciate just how incredible it is to be able to do something like that with your child.”
“I’m also fortunate enough to be in a position where I can afford to do things like [bid in the auction] and so it was fantastic to be able top off what had been a great weekend on the water by doing something like this,” he added.
Knowing his curiosity with auctions Lynch had been discouraged by those close to him, however his final bid of R25 000 was ultimately successful and he now plans to enable his fellow paddlers to view the item before finding a special spot for it in his own home.
“I’m just a sucker for auctions. Being in the wool industry I go to auctions on almost a weekly basis so when it was announced at prize giving my wife immediately turned to me and said ‘No!’,” chuckled Lynch.
“It will probably go on loan to Bluewater Canoe Club, my local club, for a little while where everyone can then get the opportunity to have a look at it and be part of it,” he added.