The beginnings of kayaking
The tradition of kayaking on the Soča River is old, as people needed boats for daily crossing the river, fishing, catching wood, rafting wood from mountainous areas to the lowlands. A sawmill was established in Solkan on the banks of the Soča, which enabled the development of the renowned Solkan carpentry trade.
In addition to furniture masterpieces, Solkan carpenters also made boats and small “batels”, which were used primarily for recreation.
Around 1937, carpenters began making lighter (20-45kg) and agile boats for winding down rapids. The boats were for one person and rowing required a great deal of knowledge, strength and endurance. From Kanal to the mouth of the Vipava river into the Soča near Sovodnje and along the Vipava to Orehovelj, the daring Solkans in kayaks were known everywhere.
The first trainings and competitions
In the winter of 1948/49, the first organized trainings with modest club equipment began: 4 canoes and one kayak, which was stored in a shed by the Soča. The wooden boat with a rubber coating was still quite heavy and very clumsy for today’s conditions, but in those conditions it was a revolutionary novelty; with it began a new era of kayaking on the Soča.
The members of the association introduced themselves to the general public for the first time in 1949 by participating in the May Day parade in Ljubljana. They participated in several competitions in the same year. At the elimination competition in padsling on flat waters in Ljubljana and Maribor, the members of the association qualified for the finals,
at the national championship in Trbovlje, a member of the association, Miran Mozetič, joined the national team.
The first competitions were also organized on the Soča and on the river Vipava.
The first boathouse
Progress in making kayaks
Entry into international waters
In 1956, the association entered equipped with six rubber kayaks for wild water, which, in addition to canoes, was already a solid basis for sports. From Plavi to Solkan slalom race was organized on the Soča and in May also the national championship. In the same year, the members of the club also participated in the international competition in Merano (Italy), where they achieved some extraordinary successes: the team consisting of Pavel Bone, Miran Mozetič and Jože Srebrnič won the slalom, and the competitors also performed successfully in individual races. This competition was also the first contact with international sports, and the success of the competition was a confirmation of the work done so far in the association and at the same time the realization that hard work will make it possible to establish contact with the world’s elite in kayaking. The appearance of the kayakers from Solkan at this competition was a big surprise for the world sports public, as they climbed from anonymity to a high place overnight, thus indicating their intention to penetrate the world’s top wild water kayaking. In the same year, the first international competition was organized on the Soča with the participation of the best competitors from Italy, Austria, the German Democratic Republic and Czechoslovakia.
Kajak club Soške elektrarne
In the following years, the work in the association continued. Nevertheless, the association was constantly plagued by great financial and material difficulties. These eventually led to the reorganization and renaming of the society. Soške elektrarne, in agreement with the Brodarska zveza Slovenije and the District Association for Physical Culture, took over the sponsorship of the activities of the association, which was therefore renamed the Kajak Club Soške elektrarne (KKSE). The cooperation between the staff of Soške elektrarne and the members of the club was strengthened and enabled the continuation of the rowing tradition on the Soča.
Thirty years of operation of the club fulfills many sporting successes. At international competitions, the members of the club regularly reached the highest places for many years, thus bearing the name of the club across Europe. In addition, they have won over 50 state titles among members and almost as many among juniors. In its activities, the club added 15 members to the national team, who more than honorably represented the name of the club. They also achieved some extraordinary results in the competitions of the highest class – world championships.
However, the operation of the club was not limited to participation in competitions. Attention was also paid to the education of judges and coaches, as the club had 35 national, 5 federal and 3 international judges and 5 instructors. At the end of the seventies, the club also got its own coach, so that new opportunities for more planned work and education of new players opened up. Competitions at Mrzlek, in Plave, in Bovec, on the river Idrijca are known to all sports fans at home and abroad. Special emphasis should also be placed on the organizational work in the club, which has developed in parallel with the growth of other types of club life.
In order to spread kayaking to the entire Soča Valley, the club invested a lot of effort in establishing sections in Bovec, Kobarid and Trebuša on the river Idrijca.
For clubs successful work we received: Bloudek’s plaque, recognition of the Association of Physical Culture of Slovenia and Yugoslavia, award of the Municipality of Nova Gorica, recognition of the Kayak Association of Yugoslavia, recognition of the Slovenian ayak fedarationa, recognition of the International Canoe Federation (ICF).
More than twenty years of the life of the Kayak Club Soške elektrarne are adorned with the greatest sporting successes: medals and titles of world champions at youth and member world championships have become a constant and raised the expectations of sports enthusiasts and the public across borders.
The last farewell from the old boathouse at the famous location “Pri Bokalu” was in 1979. The further development of events left a lasting mark in the lives of the locals. HPP Solkan, which was built on the foundations of the boathouse from 1979 to 1983, certainly contributed to the development of the local economy and the reduction of our country’s energy dependence, and in return it picked up the beautiful last 12 kilometers of rapids that the Soča offered before it lazily spilled across the plain on the Italian side.
Kayak center Most na soči
The branch of the Kayak Club Soške elektrarne on Most na Soči has been operating since 2001. Kayaking took place on Most soon after the Second World War, but organized trainings in this subalpine place began under the leadership of visionary Dejan Testen more than twenty years ago.
Kayak center Solkan
KKSE got its first new premises next to the new hydroelectric power plant. After almost a quarter of a century, nostalgia for the lost paradise took shape in the form of a new sports and recreation zone “Na jezu”. The idea of arranging a competition range has actually been simmering since 1983, when the Solkan kayakers lost suitable natural training grounds with the addition of the Solkan HPP. With the confirmation of the 2006 World Junior Championships, the new premises of the Kayak Center were arranged along the course in Solkan, which today hosts both national and international competitions. Here we train new athletes who bring home success at the global level.