Wisereach stays afloat on rafting day

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It wasn't without some trepidation that I set forth to Lee Valley Park to try out the Olympic white water venue. But surely they would set it to 'easy' or 'medium' flow before they send novices down the raging torrent in a rubber dinghy? It reminded me of starting a new project, exciting but with lots of uncertainty ahead. But you know you'll get through to the end somehow!

The team assembled and introductions were made. A sense of nervous excitement prevailed. If a disaster happened, I thought, Wisereach could be wiped out! Luckily, Brian Browne had a "dodgy" back, so he volunteered to be our photographer and would keep the show on the road if the rest of us perished.

The briefing was a lively affair with lots of warnings about keeping your feet up if you went overboard. “If they dangle they'll get mangled!” We were instructed on the various moves: “Down!”; "forward left”; “back right”; “stop!!” So with wet suits donned and buoyancy aids strapped tightly to our torsos, we entered the millpond that lay before us - the white watery bit conveniently obscured from view.

The biggest shock was the water temperature which when we carried out our 'test' swim had many of us gasping for breath and second thoughts setting in. But we'd gone past the point of no return. We couldn't turn back now.

And so it was that we paddled to the rising conveyor belt that took us to the first of five runs down the bubbling “jaws of death”. All but two of the nine crew took a dunking at some point, but all survived and no legs were mangled.

Thanks to everyone who came along and made it a great day out - who knows it might become an annual event!

John Prideaux