Flowing past the thunderous cataracts of Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River has long been recognized as one of the top 10 waterways in the world for all sorts of boating and white-water rafting activities. As the fourth-largest river in Africa, these fast-moving waters tracing the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe are the ideal place for boaters to experience the adrenalin rush of competition, especially in something like the historic Zambezi International Regatta.
First held in 1904 (and again in 1905 and 1907), the Regatta will return to the city of Livingstone, capital of the southern province of Zambia, for the fourth running of the boat races between Oxford, Cambridge and combined South African University teams at the Zambezi Boat Club from September 19-26, 2010.
The historic occasion will be marked by many exciting events throughout the week to rekindle the enthusiasm of competitions that were last held in Livingstone more than a century ago. Viewing of the races will be possible from the Zambezi Boat Club with VIP entertainment available aboard the luxurious African Queen, African Princess and Lady Livingstone launches.
The week also features the centenary race of the World Professional Sculling Championships, first held in 1910 by the British South Africa Company to help ensure the sports world would have prominent place in the development of Central Africa. Slated for Saturday, September 25, this international event will include robust crews of rowers like Kieran West, who won gold at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. The race will cover the Olympic distance of 2,000 metres.
Other events – several of which are still seeking local competitors – include the Mokoro race, the single kayak race and the raft race (held in the gorges between rapids 1 and 7 on Tuesday 21 September), as well as ladies, mens and mixed double-kayak races.
“Ever since I arrived back in Africa and heard about the World Professional Sculling Championships being held on the river in 1910, I thought it would be a great idea to try and recreate the event,” says the event organizer, Peter Jones, a former British Army captain born in Zambia who sees Livingstone as a great destination for boaters. “You will see rafts, jet boats, kayaks and boogie boards in the gorge and jet boats, river cruisers, canoes and even Arab dhows on the upper river! The photo opportunities are mind boggling!”
Alongside the popular sporting events, visitors will have plenty of opportunities to experience local culture throughout the week with entertainment by Zambian musicians and street performers, local arts and crafts fairs and much, much more. For additional ideas about what to see and do in Zambia, contact Wild Side Tours, an event sponsor and the whl.travel local partner in both Livingstone (Zambia) and Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe).
Race Update: University rowing teams faced choppy conditions on September 25, 2010, during the fourth Zambezi International Regatta in Livingstone, capital of southern Zambia. Held just five kilometres from spectacular Victoria Falls, the event also included mokoro and raft races, won each time by Zambians.
Batting through the winds, the University of Johannesburg’s women’s rowing team sped into the lead in both the 500-metre and 2,000-metre races, surpassing their counterparts from both Oxford and Cambridge. The Oxford Men’s Eight-Man team captured the trophy, beating their archrivals from Cambridge, as well as teams from Johannesburg and Cape Town.
As reported earlier, this year also marked the historic centenary of the World Professional Sculling Championships, first held on the Zambezi River in 1910. Competitors had extra incentive for speed during the training sessions for this event, with crocodiles literally following directly in their wake! In a narrow finish, Briton Dan Arnold captured the lead on the 500-metre course, while Karien and Peter Kermer of Wild Side Tours, the whl.travel local connection in Livingstone, provided a 12-seater safety boat to keep the hippos and crocs at a safe distance.