A record team of 45 gold-panners from South Africa went off to compete in the annual World Gold Panning Championships, from August 8-12, in Moffat Gold 2017, held in Moffat, Scotland, hosted by the British Gold Panning Association.
“This is the 20th year South African Gold Panning Association (SAGPA) will be participating in the World Gold Panning Championships,” said Sonja Vermaak, Chairman of SAGPA. “We used to dream of a time when there would be enough people in the team for us to hire a bus and now we are there. We are going to have fun and compete in every event we possibly can and will even be staying over in Edinburgh so we can see the castle as well as the other sights.”
Eighteen members of the group were sponsored by the Department of Culture Sports and Recreation, based on their performance at the 2016 South African Gold Panning Championships. As team organisers, two officials of the South African Gold Panning Association (SAGPA) were also sponsored by the Department, as well as five government representatives. This includes the MEC Norah Mahlangu-Mabena, who will also be competing. Two further participants were supported by SAGPA.
In a Gold Panning competition, panners receive a 20kg bucket of sand in which 5-12 small pieces of gold have been seeded. They must pan out the sand as fast as possible and they receive time penalties for every piece of gold lost. There are individual and team events, as well as some fun events.
Moffat is primarily a tourist town situated in the Southern Uplands Hills in south-west Scotland. A line-up of traditional entertainment has been arranged for every evening during the championships and on August 13, the day after the gold panning finals, participants will be able to experience the festival atmosphere of Moffat’s annual sheep racing contest where ewes with knitted woollen jockeys on their backs race down the town’s main street.
The highlights of the results of the SA team at Moffat Gold 2017 will be published in the next issue.
Steve Barrow, at 62 years the oldest team member, Sonja Vermaak—Chairman of SAGPA, and Zodwa Ngwenja 13 years old and youngest team member