Project goal – What exactly are we going to do?
In short we, as the #StandUp4Rhino team, are going to a lot of effort in order to purposely risk our lives (just a little), to raise much needed funding for our chosen beneficiary, by attempting the first ever descent of the rapids of the Zambezi River in the Batoka Gorge on stand-up paddleboards (SUPs). Our target is to survive… and raise $10,000 in the process.
Project motivation – Why are we doing this?
At the end of the day, we could just do it for the bragging rights, but we all feel strongly that it would be much more meaningful if it were to translate into REAL benefits for a deserving cause, and there are few causes more deserving than the organisation we have chosen.
Project beneficiary – Who do we want to benefit from this?
Simply put, we want our efforts to benefit rhinos! But more specifically, Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary NPC – an orphanage and sanctuary for rhino orphans resulting from the on-going rhino poaching scourge that is decimating rhino populations in Southern Africa. We hope that through the publicity generated by the #StandUp4Rhino campaign, that a much broader awareness will be created and that this will have a knock on effect and ultimately benefit the general rhino population of southern Africa.
Project background – Whose great idea was this anyway?
This project was born over a few beers around the campfire, as many great ideas are, when Bertrand van der Berg, an experienced SUP paddler from South Africa, expressed an interest in attempting to ride the enormous rapids of the mighty Zambezi on his stand-up paddleboard. To date this has NEVER been attempted. Shane Raw is a whitewater kayaker with many years of international experience under his belt including numerous successful runs of the Zambezi in his whitewater kayak. The project aims to combine Shane’s whitewater experience and knowledge of the Zambezi with Bertrand’s SUP skills to complete the first ever SUP descent of the Zambezi. In the interests of safety and to give the project a greater chance of success, additional team members have been recruited, each one bringing a unique set of skills and experience to the mix.
What is Stand-Up Paddleboarding?
Although the origins of stand-up paddleboarding can be traced back many decades, it is essentially still regarded as a new sport. It has been described as an offshoot from surfing or more accurately, a combination of the sports of surfing and canoeing. It has widely been regarded as the fasted growing water sport over the last 2-3 years and is already a multi-billion rand industry. SUPs are commonly used on flat water such as dams, lakes and estuaries, and in the ocean for wave surfing. They are increasingly being used to surf river waves and take on whitewater rapids as well. However, no one has attempted to run the rapids of the mighty Zambezi.
The Zambezi River
At Victoria Falls on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Zambezi River plummets over one hundred meters down into the rugged Batoka Gorge. Above, the river is more than 1.5 km wide and moves sluggishly toward the edge of the Victoria Falls, one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, but below in the gorge, it is compressed by the canyon walls and combined with the increased gradient produces some of the biggest and most spectacular whitewater rapids and waves on the planet. These rapids have actually claimed several lives over the years and so it cannot be said that the project is without an element of risk. It is exactly that risk that has prevented anyone from attempting to run these rapids on a SUP, until now.
Professional photo and video material will be captured by our media team consisting of Chantelle Melzer, Tom Varley and Shaun McMinn in addition to the team members themselves using GoPro cameras on board. This material will be used to generate website and social media posts and updates. We will then activate our social media networks to share and distribute this information as far and wide as possible. Select information will also be shared on the crowd funding platform by way of updates.
From the video material collected, we will produce at least 1 teaser video and a 5-7 minute short documentary about the project as a minimum.
Due to the fact that this has never been attempted before, the SUP mission will undoubtedly feature in publications such as SUP Journal, SUP The Mag and SUP World online and print magazine. Due to the uniqueness and broad spectrum appeal of the fund raising aspect, we will attempt to get the project coverage in as many other publications as possible from sports related to conservation, etc.
We are in the process of finding a public relations specialist who will add tremendous value to the project by assuming responsibility for this aspect of the project.