The River Severn was swollen from recent rain, and flowing strongly, with a stiff breeze as well. These were always going to be challenging conditions for young paddlers reared on the Stort, but Finlay & Oliver took it in their stride.
Even being knocked badly off course by another boat at the start did not phase them. They just kept paddling determinedly to the end - and won.
Fourteen paddlers from BSCC made the journey to Worcester to be amongst the 613 taking part in the Hasler finals.
Everyone acquitted themselves well, and in particular Gold medallists Finlay & Oliver (Div 9) and Bronze medallists David G & Kat (Div 2) - together making the club's biggest medal haul in at least the last 20 years.
David & Kat's race ended with an exciting contest for third place against Chelmsford's Melissa Johnson & James Walkinton, which the Stortford pair won by the very narrowest of margins.
Because of the conditions, the usual beach portage was abandoned in favour of a false portage directly in front of the clubhouse.
Being the finals, many of the races had a high number of entries - apart from Divs 1 and 2 all the singles divisions had at least 30 entries and there were as many as 48 paddlers in Div 7. Eddie's Div 4 race had a field of 37, so a position of 17th was impressive. The same was the case for Eilidh (18th out of 35 entries). Eddie and Eilidh were both paddling in divisions to which they had only recently been promoted.
Chris & Ben had an eventful race. The were in top form, making excellent time and seemed on course for a good result - until their boat was unexpectedly swamped and they soon found themselves neck-deep in the water. They were able to completed the race, but the incident cost them a lot of time - though it certainly made for some memorable Go-Pro footage.
For the first time, Stortford's annual Regatta was run as a Local Sprint under the auspices of the BC Sprint Racing Committee. Through the SRC, we were put in touch with Laura Sugar MBE, the reigning KL3 World Champion and Paralympic gold medallist, who came along to chat to everyone during the lunch break and kindly agreed to present the medals for the day.
As well as the home club, paddlers came from Chelmsford, Cambridge, Lee Valley, and Maidstone. Although a smaller event than usual with only 37 competitors, everyone was kept busy during the morning with repeated runs of 500m, 200m, and 1000m.
In the afternoon there were relay races for fun and also timed runs of 100m in the club's newly-acquired K4.
Results for Stortford paddlers:
u10 Boys - Rupert Kirtland (silver)
u12 Girls - Emile Klumpler (silver)
u12 Boys - Rupert Kirkland (gold)
u14 Girls - Libby Gaulton (silver)
u14 Boys - Finlay Sandall (silver)
u16 Boys - Eddie Kirtland (gold), Jack Gaulton (silver), Aaron Sandhu (bronze)
u18 Girls - Eilidh White (gold)
u18 Boys - Tom Barton (gold)
u23 Men - Tom Holloway (gold), Jamie Bond (silver)
Veteran Ladies - Ally Judge (gold), Karen Bradley (silver)
C1 - Petr Luksan (silver)
PaddleAbility - Oliver Klumpler (gold), Alex Scott (silver)
The day was rounded off with a specially-made piñata for the youngest children.
Seven paddlers from Bishops Stortford went to the Pangbourne Hasler in September - four of them returning with medals.
12 miles, 3 portages
Div 2: Joe Fitzpatrick & Oli Rix [NOR] 2nd (1:29:23), David Gurney & Kat Wilson 3rd (1:33:49)
8 miles, 2 portages
Div 4: Eddie Kirtland & Ewan Bates [LBZ] 1st (1:07:34), Chris Sze & Ben Tubby 4th (1:08:18)
Div 9: Kerry Tubby 11th (41:29)
Partnering Ethan Bates of Leighton Buzzard in the K2 200m race, Eddie qualified for the final, in which the boys came 3rd (47.96). Eddie also joined Ethan and two Nottingham paddlers for the 500m K4 race, which they won with a commanding lead (1:57.92).
Jasper and Rupert Kirtland were in the 12s Lightning B K1 class 500m races. Jasper won both his heat and then the final (3:05.96). He has been promoted from Lightning B to Lighting A (rebranded as “Mini”). Rupert was 5th in his heat (3:34.54), narrowly missing out on the final. Rupert and Jasper teamed up to win the K2 Lightning A/B combined event with an excellent time of 2:50.08. They also competed in the K4 event along with a two paddlers from other clubs, coming 3rd in a thrilling finish.
It was the last Nottingham Sprint Regatta of the year, so some overall results were also announced. Stortford was placed 7th in the 2023 Intermediate Series (u14s). Jasper was the top-scoring boy in Lightning B during 2023, and Rupert was joint 2nd. Oliver was also awarded two bronze medals (200m & 500m) for his performance in Paddle-Ability Sprint in 2023.
Photo credits: Flora Klumpler & Rich Winstanley