Drak Challenge Honours Alick Rennie

Underberg – The Drak Challenge Canoe Marathon has installed a prestigious new award that will honour the memory of popular canoeist and former Olympian Alick Rennie who passed away last month.

The Alick Rennie Fellowship Award will be presented to a participant who demonstrates exceptional bravery or sportsmanship during the race, and will, appropriately, consist of a handcrafted trophy made from one of Rennie’s slalom paddle blades.

Rennie, an engineer based in Pietermaritzburg who also ran their family farm outside Underberg, was killed in a light aeroplane crash in December.

“Alick was a hugely popular character in both the Underberg community and the canoeing community, and shared our passion for this race,” said N3TC Drak Challenge race committee head Barry Cole.

“Everyone who knew Alick as a paddler understood that he was a fierce competitor and exceptionally talented, but more than anything he was a good sportsman and very generous with his time and advice. He would never tolerate winning at all costs,” said Cole.
“It is fitting that we set out to honour any participant in the race who shows the same sort of sporting characteristics with this very prestigious award.”

Cole pointed out that the discretionary award would ideally single out acts of selfless assistance or courage.

He said that the race committee would review all the motivations for recipients of the award each year before deciding whether or not any of them was significant enough to warrant the special award of the Alick Rennie Fellowship Award.

The award will be presented at the prizegiving of this weekend’s N3TC Drak Challenge by Rennie’s son Iain Rennie, who supported the principle of recognizing exceptional displays of sportsmanship with the new award. Rennie won his age group at last years N3TC Drak Challenge, opting to race the two-day race which was held in flood conditions, in a wild water craft. He was widely admired for his river skills and ability to adapt to conditions, and thrived in challenging big water conditions.

“Alick Rennie was an exceptional example of a characteristic that exists in the canoeing fraternity, where it is imperative to assist a fellow paddler in need, whether it was a dangerous and distressing situation, or simply in need of advice or a helping hand.
“Through this award we hope to foster and strengthen this ethos in canoeing, and in the process honour the memory of an exceptional friend and paddler,” said Cole.

The N3TC Drak Challenge 2014 starts on 18 January at Castleburn outside Underberg and finishes on 19 January at Hopewell Farm close to Coleford. More information can be found at www.drak.co.za

Drak Challenge Alick Rennie award

Alick Rennie in action in his downriver boat during the flooded N3TC Drak Challenge. The Alick Rennie Fellowship Award will be presented in his memory for the first time at this weekend’s N3TC Drak Challenge Canoe Marathon. Pic: Gameplan Media