Three members of BSCC took part in the 13.5 mile Waterside A race with 21 portages, from Great Bedwyn to Newbury.
Chris Sze and Gordon Bullock (paddling for BAD) were 18th in K2 Vets in 2:31:38.
However, the star of the day was Kerstin Queeney who again crewed up with Maidstone's Catherine Ayling. The pair completed the race in 2:21:20 to take 3rd position in Ladies K2.
Provisional results of the race on online.
Photo courtesy Chris Sze
Nine members of Bishops Stortford Canoe Club spent Easter 2017 taking on one of the canoeing world's biggest challenges - the 125-mile Devizes to Westminster Canoe race. Here is what they had to say about it:
Chris Sze (4-day Vet-Junior K2, with Euan):
"It's been an unique experience paddling with a young paddler for 125 miles in four days. Joyful pain or painful joy? Either or both! It's also good fun in every aspect from training, through preparing, till finishing. Without the support crew, the race would have not been a smooth one. Thank you all for assisting us in one way or another to make my dream come true!"
Euan Caton (4-day Vet-Junior, with Chris):
"All of our friends and family and support lining the sides of the river, ready to watch us leave. We were called up, the horn was blasted... 125 miles to Westminster! A disappointing incident with the rudder on day one was quickly recovered by our great engineers. Day 2: We worked well as a team and portaged very fast, leaving others behind at every portage. We made a good time and after we had finished we went back to the hotel, drained of all energy.
As we started to race on day three it became apparent that there was a problem, at every portage Chris he had pulled a tendon in his arm. Around 20 miles in and after a couple of Portages it became apparent he was having back problems, this became a very big challenge due to the lack of support points and portages on day three.
After all of the paddling and pain we had gone through, only 18 miles of lovely waves stood between us and Westminister Bridge. We started the day aching but ready. Around ten miles in we hit a problem - Chris's back began to play up again. We caught eyes on the London Eye, I screamed and almost fell to tears with the joys of seeing the finish. We doubled the effort and every stroke heaved the boat over the waves, flying under the finish line! Never have I felt so satisfied to see a bridge in my entire life!
The feeling of walking up those steps and seeing all of your support crew, family and friends is absolutely amazing, I just want to thank everyone that was there for me at the finish and my amazing support crew. Thank you to everyone along the way who helped to motivate me and also to all of the different people who lent me kit and a major thanks must go to my coaches who helped and guided me throughout my journey and hopefully many more races to come!"
(read the long version of Euan's story)
Sue, Euan Caton's mum (support crew):
"When I was initially asked if Euan would like to take part in the prestigious Devises to Westminster International Canoe Event, paddling 125 miles over 4 days I thought this was something which was outside of his ability. After all he'd only been paddling for approx 18 months, and he was just 15 years old.
We found out there was a great deal of knowledge within the club regarding the DW and people were very willing to help and share experiences, and guided us through the four Waterside races. We were given information for each stage/day which included all accessible portages, with post codes and a Sat Nav that was pre-programmed, everything that we needed! We just needed to learn how to effectively feed and change water bottles "on the run" for our team. As we got through the Watersides we learnt a lot, and I still wondered if this massive feat could really be accomplished.
I must say that the Easter weekend itself was a little of a blur with early boat check for the next days start points. The lessons we learnt at the Watersides was absolutely invaluable, we worked really well to support the boat so that at every opportunity we fed and watered our men, we leapfrogged portages so we could get to as many places to see and support them as possible, I am sure that our smiling faces along with the snacks we forced into their mouths kept them going through each strenuous day.
It was the final day, the Thames section and last push, the river was so wide there were BIG boats and there were NO portages, as a mum I was needless to say very, very anxious. I saw them pass under Richmond Bridge and they looked great, we parked up at Westminster and awaited sight of them coming into the finish, that was probably the most relieved I have ever been to see Euan and the proudest I have ever been. It just goes to prove that with great determination and the right support, anything is possible."
(read the long version of Sue's story)
Danny Beazley (non-stop K2)
"The curse of being one of the quicker crews is that you have a whole day to think about what you are about to put yourself through before you get going. You just want to get on and start at 9.00am but you have to wait around and control your nerves until 3:30pm and plan your eating and drinking. We started with Dan Palmer & Ryan Pearce. We shared the work doing 6 minute leads to Wooton Rivers catching the Pearse brothers before Pewsey who stayed with us for the remainder of the pound.
We were the second quickest crew from Reading to Westminster and the support was amazing. This was starting to feel like that perfect race, we arrived at Wooton Rivers feeling fresh and I had to slow Rodrigo down on the run. We cruised through to Crofton passing Steve King & Sean Thower. With Dan & Ryan, the Pearse brothers and Steve & Sean behind us we just continued on at our own pace. We were careful not to push it.
The early hours of the morning can be the point in the race where finishing becomes a battle of the mind. Realising you have been going for 12 hours and potentially have another 6 hours to go is not a nice feeling. Having said that it really wasn’t an issue for me this year and Rodrigo kept counting down the hours. The first signs of daylight give every crew a boost. You’ve made it through the night, you can begin to see bends in the river and locks approaching and you start to feel the warmth of the sun.
Our support crew of James, Josh and Stelian in one car and Nette, Lucia, Freddie and Bernardo in the other car were nothing short of amazing. Every portage went so smoothly, the kit change at Newbury and spray deck change at Dreadnaught Reach was really efficient and anything we requested from one car was promptly provided at the next portage by the other car. Thank you so much.
This was as close to the perfect race as you can get which is largely thanks to the guys above and of course Rodrigo for being so committed to it. All the training paid off and I really enjoyed racing DW with Rodrigo.
I said to James at the top of the steps that I'm starting to get too old for this but by the time I'd got to Westminster Bridge on the way to the changing tents I was discussing next year!"
(read the long version of Danny's story)
Those who successfully complete it get, in the words of the organisers, "a memorable sense of achievement" - which is an understatement to rule all understatements.
Those going straight through will set out from Devizes Wharf in Wiltshire, along the Kennet and Avon Canal, before they join the Thames at the 50 mile point. The hardy group then race through the night for another 58 miles towards the tidal Thames at Teddington Lock. They have to make sure they reach Teddington to catch the high tide, which is at 6.30am this year. A dangerous 17 mile paddle on the rough tidal Thames to the finish at Westminster Bridge then follows, if they make it.
Other famous people that have attempted the race include Steve Redgrave, who quit the race in 2012 due to tiredness. Paddy Ashdown completed the race when he was a Royal Marine and famously said "Only one other person in history has had a worse Easter".
The club results are as follows:
Matt Parkes – 6th Senior K1 – 1:52:56 (out of 23)
Octavia Abbott – 12th Ladies K1 – 2:33:37 (out of 24)
James Smythe – 3rd Veteran K1 – 1:58:25 (out of 40)
Dave Hallam – 5th Veteran K1 – 2:00:14 (out of 40)
Danny Beazley / Rodrigo Hortal (CAM) – 2nd Senior K2 – 1:45:40 (out of 42)
David Gurney / Danielle Clifford (BAD) – 14th Mixed K2 – 2:27:57 (out of 29)
Chris Sze / Euan Caton – 6th Veteran/Junior K2 – 2:16:05 (out of 14)
Congratulations should go to Matt Parkes for taking 5:49 of his PB set last year, Octavia Abbott who took 7:18 off her time from last year and Dave Hallam who went 9:09 quicker than 2016. Also well done to the 3 young juniors completing the course for the first time. This is one of the toughest 13 mile races on the calendar.
The following regular training group paddlers also did well racing for their respective Clubs. We hope to see them down the club more often as the Waterside series continues and the Hasler series restarts for the 2017/2018 season:
Gaz Wilson (RDG) – 17th Senior K1 – 2:19:50
Gordon Bullock (BAD) – 24th Veteran K1 – 2:29:07
Kat Wilson / James New (RDG) – 1st Mixed K2 – 1:52:05
The full results can be found here.
The weekend of 23rd and 24th July saw a reasonable size team from Bishops Stortford head to the National Marathon Championships which this year were held on the River Thames at Reading. Saturday’s racing is all K1 / C1 starting with the Lightnings at 9:00am and finishing with the Veterans at 2:40pm with two other starts in between at 10:00 and 11:40. Sundays race is all K2 / C2 following the same format but finishing with one of the largest and hotly contested events of the weekend, the Mixed K2.
Although there were five National Championship medals won by the Club, Toby Booth’s 5th place in Under 14 K1 (out of 28 entries) and Joe Fitzpatrick & Heidi White’s 9th place in mixed K2 (out of 58 entries) were the outstanding results of the weekend, beating many crews who on paper were faster than themselves.
Although there were some very good results on Saturday in the extremely hot and humid conditions we had to wait until the last set of races for Joe Surrage to start the medals coming with a good 2nd place in the Over 34 Vet Men K1. Danny Beazley then followed up with a gold in the Over 39 Vet Mens K1.
Sunday saw slightly cooler and more pleasant racing conditions and Toby Booth partnering Lewis Smith from Lincoln won an impressive bronze medal in the Under 14 boys K2. The final medals of the weekend were won by Danny Beazley and James Smythe (racing in a Bishops Stortford vest for the first time) who finished a very close 2nd in the Vet Mens Over 34 K2.
Well done to all who raced - the Club finished in 17th place overall out of 54 clubs. It would be lovely to break into the top 10 next year with a larger attendance from the Club.
Danny Beazley, paddling for Bishops Stortford, was partnered by James Smythe (Leaside CC), in the last race of the Waterside Series yesterday. The race covered 34 miles from Devizes to Newbury with 35 portages. The pair made their fourth successive win in the Vet K2 class with a time of 4:42:18. As well as finishing first out the 25 boats in this class, Danny & James were also the third fastest out of all the K2s. They of course won the series trophy for Vet K2 with a total time of 11:54:02. Everything is looking good for their participation in the 125-mile DW at Easter!
Other club members participating were the new Mixed K2 crew of Octavia Abbott and Chris Sze. Unfortunately they were one of the three crews that had to retire from this class.
Six members of BSCC took part in Waterside A. This is the first in a series of four progressively longer marathon races which traditionally constitute the "warm up" for the 125-mile Devizes to Westminster race at Easter. Race A takes in 13 miles of the Kennet & Avon Canal from Great Bedwyn to Newbury, including 21 locks.
Matt reports that the muddiness of the tow path made the portages particularly challenging, with many slips and slides, and some people falling over.
All the Stortford paddlers did extremely well, with the best result of all coming from Danny & James who set a new course record for K2 Vets, clipping just over a minute off the previous fastest time set in 2000.
Veteran K2: Danny Beazley (with James Smythe, Leaside CC) 1st 1:44:00, Ant Wright & Mike Panrucker 17th 2:23:48 [32 entries]
Senior Mens K1: Matt Parkes 10th 1:58:45 [27 entries]
Senior Ladies K1: Laura Warbrick 5th 2:15:00, Octavia Abbott 9th 2:40:55 [12 entries]
Full provisional results can be found on the Waterside website.
A small contingent of Stortford paddlers made the trip to Reading for what turned out to be one of the biggest races on the calendar with a huge number of boats in each start. The 19 mile race to Longridge was made all the more challenging with high winds and moving water on the Thames, causing extra safety measures to be put in place.
The starts were split into four groups with slow K2s followed by slow K1s and then fast K2s followed by fast K1s.
Ella was the only Stortford boat in the early starts and made a fantastic start leading the group away from the line. Having never paddled this distance before Ella did incredibly well to finish the race in a very respectable time of 02:38:20 in what would later turn out to be good enough to win her class.
Mike and Alasdair where up next in the fast K2 start continuing their preparations for the DW on a crucial part of the course, and finished in a respectable 9th place in 02:32:10.
Finally in the fast start where Matt, Josh and Sim along with Stortford training group regulars Danny and Stelian racing for Leaside. With a number of around 70 boats on the start line there was always going to be chaos and a very difficult start ensued with only Stelian getting in a good position off the start. Both Danny and Matt fought very hard to battle past a large number of boats finishing in 02:09:28 and 02:11:44 respectively. Stelian was next in on 02:15:00 followed by Sim on 02:17:36, while Josh decided to break his boat not once but twice eventually causing a retirement at the halfway mark.
Little did anyone know that at the time every K1 in the fast start had been deemed to have jump started and was therefore disqualified. This while handing Ella her win meant that only her and the K2 were deemed to have finish the race.
See Thameside 2 results here and Thamesside 2 times here
Also a big congratulations to Ella who on the same day has found out she has been selected of a GBR development trip at the end of the month
A small team of 5 braved the 17.5 mile Waterside B race today. With 19 portages it proved a challenge for both Sim and Matt who had never raced in a waterside race before. Josh also joined them bringing along his experience, while Mike and Alastair paddled in K2 as a training run for the DW.
A big mention must go to Matt who won the junior category even after having to stop to try and save his watch.
Well done to everyone that raced.
See Waterside B results here