White-water Kayak Events

Sabie X-fest 2020

We are doing it again, Sabie X-fest 2020 will be on 15 February! We expect to have great water levels. 

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Thrombi 2020

We are stoked to announce that the next Thrombi X-Fests will be on 1 February 2020. We will collaborate with the Drak Challenge who has moved its date to accommodate the rainfall patterns that have shifted later in the summer, and to avoid the clashes with back-to-work and back-to-school season.

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Thrombi X-Fest 2019

Thrombi 2019 was a two day whitewater kayaking festival on the beautiful Umzimkulu River near Underberg, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. The Thrombi X-Fest hosts a dedicated crowd of whitewater enthusiasts every year, who battle it out in head-to-head sprints down class 4 rapids. Competitors have to win through a number of rounds of heats, semifinals and finals for the honour of being the Thrombi champion.

Thrombi 2019 was held at Umzimkulu River Lodge on 19 January, the same weekend of the annual Drak race. The Drak Challenge is a 2 day canoe race that starts above Underberg and finish at the Thrombosis Gorge, where us whitewater kayakers race. Kayakers came from as far as Cape Town to show their support. Spirits were high with 28 entries even though the river was really low.

The race section starts with a rapid called Tonsils followed by Slot-Machine and ends about a kilometer away with Super Tube. A small crowd of spectators gathered at Slot-Machine as the race kicked off. The fastest two of each of the 6 heats went through to the semi-finals. The rest had to race again to get a shot of reaching the semis. After the finals we paddled 8 kilometres down some great rapids to Thrombi Falls. Only a handful braved the 11 meter drop. Thank you all for coming, you make these events possible.

After Party at the Drak Challenge

Race Results

  1. Brayden Raw
  2. JJ Engelbreght / Graham Alborough (tie)
  1. Brandon Orpwood
  2. Josh Cawood
  3. Kelly T.
  4. Shane Raw
  5. Rich Domleo
  6. Charl de Bruyn
  7. Kestell Barnard

Kestell Adventures were honoured to organise the Sabie X-Fest

Sabie X-fest 2019 was a two day white-water kayak festival on the magnificent Sabie River in the town Sabie in Mpumalanga, South Africa. It was held on Saturday 16 February on the same weekend of the annual Sabie Tube Race. We had a great after-party with live entertainment on the Saturday night.

Kayak competitors raced down class 4 rapids in time trials. We had a challenging, 2 km warm-up paddle to the race section. From the start, as our kayaks hit the water, we had to face an intimidating rapid at Timamoon’s bridge. Surprisingly, everyone did it (maybe the portage looked harder). We had plenty of rain and river levels were great, it was creek boating at its best. We made a lot of noise every time we entered a new pool to make sure we didn’t disturb the hippo spotted a couple of weeks before.

Spectators were already waiting for us, as our group of 17 paddlers arrived at the race section. It was ShowTime! There are 3 race rapids namely: Jeff’s Rapid, Lock Stock & 2 Smoking Barrels and Siphon Falls.

After the whole group scouted Jeff’s rapid we voted not include it as a race rapid but to see who run it the best. The rapid was named after a guy called Jeff who was properly washed for a whole minute by the hole at the bottom.

Lock Stock & 2 Smoking Barrels is a rapid where the whole Sabie River is squeezed into a 2 meter channel. You have to get your line just right to avoid the rocks on the sides. We had fast times, a couple of rolls and swimmers.

It started raining again as we scouted Siphon Falls. This rapid consists of two drops, you safely paddle over the siphon (at the first drop) but have milliseconds to get your line right for the second, 3 meter drop. The two best swimmers were awarded prizes – 5 litre degreaser and dishwashing liquid. We combined the times of Lock Stock and Siphon Falls to get the results.

Race Results

  1. (1:19.67) Kestell Barnard
  2. (1:20.55) Charl de Bruyn
  3. (1:27.63) Gideon Pienaar
  4. (1:40.98) Louis Hugo
  5. (1:49.08) Adrian Vroom
  6. (2:04.46) Clive Brown
  7. (dnf) Joe Klopper
  8. (dnf) Quinton Van Deventer
  9. (dnf) Jack Radford
  10. (dnf) David Milne