Rundu-Makuti Manase clinched first place in the 2nd edition of the annual National Exclusive Red Bull King of Wato Race at the popular Rundu Beach on Saturday.
Makuti, who hails from Kayengona village east of Rundu was the overall winner of the Red Bull King of Wato race. He finished the final lap in 1st place to claim the coveted N$5,000 first prize, tailed by Kateya Matheus from the Mile 10 village. The latter received N$3,000, while Sam Ndumba from Rundu’s Ndama location had to satisfied with 3rd place and N$2,000.
“I’m feeling awesome. When I left home, my ultimate aim was to win and after witnessing the first race last year I decided to enter this year and I’m happy that I won the first prize. This event should continue coming to this region,” Makuti said.
Participants race paddling canoes/watos, which are traditionally used for fishing or travelling across the river by Kavango inhabitants living along the river. Entrants were fully attired in protective gear (lifejackets and helmets), while safety boats were on standby on the water for the duration of the race.
The King of Wato Red Bull initiative was started last year to encourage more interaction amongst the locals, while providing exposure to Rundu as a town through the Red Bull promotional venture. The race boasted a record total of 25 participants, who brought along their own paddles while watos were readily available at the venue.
“We want this event in future to be hosted in different places, such as Nkurenkuru and Divundu, as well but it all depends on the sponsors including support from the community. If the attendance is poor it’s hard to convince them to host the event again. So, let us come in numbers next year,” enthused, Kavango regional sports officer Erastus Someno, who was one of the event organisers.
Only Namibian competitors above the age of 16 were allowed to enter the competition.
The adrenaline-pumping King of Wato Race commenced at 11h00 on Saturday, with the finals completed at 15h00. The event is aimed at showcasing what Namibia has to offer in terms of talent in Wato racing, an activity long known by rural Kavangos.
All participants were guided by instructions from the event’s master of ceremonies, Hafeni Namwira. The race was sponsored by Red Bull, Omashare Hotel, Tyre Rack, ESB Boats, Gondwana Collections Namibia and Kickstart Promotions.