GRAHAM Christie-Henry must wonder why I’m smiling even
before we shake hands. When I inform him of a small lottery win
the previous evening he congratulates me warmly and I immediately
realise this is going to be an interesting and stirring interview.
‘Nice bloke’ and ‘thoroughly’ are the two
phrases that spring to mind within the first few minutes of meeting
Christie-Henry. Already it is clear his knowledge of the sport is
excellent and he clearly comes across as an inspirational figure.
Napier Kayak Club’s President is keen to promote his pursuit.
Speaking with great enthusiasm he seems capable of convincing anyone
to dive down a rock-laden waterfall headfirst, well anyone except
me, and that’s where we start.
“It’s an adrenalin rush. It’s simply just loads
and loads of fun. OK, it might not be for everybody, but those who
do it love it.”
The club is one of the most developed at the university. They
won Napier Sports Union Team of the Year in 1999 and 2001 and were
SUSF Canoe Polo champions in 1999.
Looking at the statistics is easy to see why the club were honoured
with such a prize. Between 1996 and 1999 the canoe polo team won
consecutive promotions from Division 4 straight up to Division 1,
and now sit in Division 2. The club is not just for students. Some
of the core members still come back years after leaving education.
The impeccable preparation skills of the man are magnified when
he hands me the perfect document: Idiot’s Guide to Canoe Polo.
This is a detailed manual that tells me everything I need to know.
It’s certainly worth taking a few minutes to get a grip with
Canoe Polo teams consist of five people and halves played are
between 6 and 10 minutes long. The aim of the game is much like
football, to pass the ball between team members and shoot for goal.
The only restriction is that you have to pass within five seconds.
Fouls can also be committed. According to the guide “ramming
is not allowed”.
Back to the kayaking and Christie-Henry is willing to discuss
my notions regarding the more dangerous side of the sport.
He says: “If you capsize, you come ashore and just get back
in the water. There’s more to it than flinging yourself off
As for Henry personally, he’s been club President for two
years and Kayaking always has and always will be a part of his life.
He says: “I’ve always fancied it. When I was old enough
– around 6 or 7 years ago - I joined a club. I took a break
for a couple of years after my highers and joined the Napier club
as soon as I came to university.
“If I live in Edinburgh when I leave Napier I’ll always
stay involved with the club.”
Despite a large membership the club is always keen to accept new
members. As well as canoe polo the club indulges in weekend trips,
river trips and surfers and snowboaters are also catered for. Members
also enjoy a hectic social life. Christie-Henry reckons the club
is more than suitable for anyone who enjoys free food and drink.
If you’re interested meet outside Merchiston Union on Tuesdays