Lon 30.581413 Lat -29.625223
Mission is arguably the biggest river test of the first stage. It is easy to recognise from the big concrete bridge over the river and throngs of spectators. It starts with a small drop into a pool and a left hand turn into the main rapid, which you approach river right. Try to stay left of centre as you enter the first section, where the river constricts and throws up some big waves as its goes over a number of shelves. Stay left of centre but straight as you line up the last drop, and be very aware of a big submerged rock on the left in the final shelf that has taken out many a boat over the years! In very full conditions it is possible to sneak most of the first half of the rapid down a slot river left.
After the first section there is a short fifty metre pool that leads into the lower rapids. In normal river conditions this must be shot down the rocky left hand channel. Start very left, but as you enter the final drop, head back to the centre taking care not to have the nose of your boat deflected left or right as you approach the final drop where the spectators gather.
In full river conditions it is possible and indeed fun to approach the lower part of Mission on the right of the island. Pick your way down the middle of this channel which drops into a great slot that turns left against a rockface, leading back into the main flow of the river.
If it’s very full then use the sneak on the left. Just after the bridge hug the corner on the left and avoid the hole. Go slowly at the bottom and stay left all the way down.
Mission rapid really isn’t as bad as a lot of the hype around it may suggest. A lot of the hype comes from there usually being quite a big crowd here because it is the first point since Campbell’s that spectators can access easily – it’s not actually a difficult rapid.
Get your seconds to watch the paddlers ahead of you and if they see that others are getting through the sneak channel on the left just after the bridge then go for it. If you go the conventional way there are two drops after the bridge but before Mission rapid that you need to negotiate – I’d recommend keeping left. As you approach Mission rapid itself there is a pimple marker rock that you should keep left and let the water drop you down. As you’re dropping down though try turn to the right to align the boat for the exit and then use your left rudder on the exit to avoid the water pushing your right and onto the island.