Matt Parkes (4-day K1):
"DW has to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The lead up to the race was nerve racking but I think Stortford did great as a team to make sure we were all prepared. The race itself was nothing like what I expected and to come 4th overall and be 16 minutes faster than my estimated time was great. The support throughout and at the finishing line was also great and I'd like to say thank you to all those who followed us down the course in person or who followed the GPS."
Neil Boast (non-stop K2):
"For some the DW is a race to be completed just once. A 'never again' achievement that you can rightly add to your list of great things you've done. For me it is an addiction. An addiction that drives me to push myself beyond what I'm comfortable with and to suffer as a result.
I, and most others who have this affliction can not really explain why it is such a draw. We know that we fear it and love it in the same breath. The old adage, 'if I have to explain, you wouldn't understand', is so appropriate for the greatest canoe race in the world."
"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!"
"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)
"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)
"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)
Senior Doubles (non-stop):
Danny Beazley & Rodrigo Hortal 2nd (17:46)
Neil Boast & Tim Beaver 59th overall and 24th vets (24:50)
Mike Panrucker & Ian Abrams (retired)
Vet-Junior Doubles (4-day):
Chris Sze & Euan Caton 4th (20:16)
Senior Singles (4-day):
Matt Parkes 4th (16:36)
Octavia Abbott 34th overall, 4th Lady & 2nd Vet Lady (21:09)
Dave Hallam (retired)
The full results of the race can be seen on the DW website.