No.1 Rapid - Umkomaas
No.1 Rapid can be broken down into three sections. A wide, technical rock garden, a small pool and a narrow, steep drop over a series of ledges that form some big holes and waves.
Your best line will depend on the water level. At anything below 1.5m, the "rock garden" before the pool is best shot down the centre. Use the huge block-rock on the opposite bank (right) in the pool as a reference point to get your bearings.
At higher levels there is a line down the left of the rock garden that leads into the main drop, basically bypassing the pool, and placing you ideally onto the tongue down the main drop.
The pool is deceptively short and you must ensure you turn left decisively to line up for the main drop.
The main drop is a series of drops with a massive hole in the centre. Above 1.8m a line down the extreme right opens up that avoids the worst of it. Otherwise this right sneak can get quite tricky with a few exposed/submerged rocks that are hard avoid.
In high water the big hole can also be skirted on the left, however it is diffecult to get left after making the turn. There is also a buried rock in the left side of this hole which is a real nose breaker, so keeping left can be hazardous below about 1.8m especially if you don't make the line. That leaves you with the option of going down the centre! Hit it straight, keep your paddles high, reach forward and power through.
The images below give an indication of the river from the bank at 1.3m.
Below: Main drop at 1.3m. There are not many options at this level besides down the centre.
VIDEOS through No1 Rapid
This video was taken with the river running at 1.3m at Hela Hela during the 2013 Umko Marathon. Centre line through the "rock garden" into the top pool.
The next video below was taken with the river running at approximately 1.5m at Hela Hela. Note this is the line that drops you into the main channel from the left, avoiding the top pool. At this level there is not enough space to avoid the hole so you will have to just punch through. (Thanks to Don Wewege for the contribution).
The final video is the same line as above but at 1.9m. This is the ideal line if there is enough water, as it places you on the tongue through the main drop.