Racing doesn’t get any simpler than this: a 12 miler from A (Elmbridge Canoe Club) to B (Richmond Canoe Club). But, thanks to some heavy rainfall, the first race of the year was anything but simple.
The river was on orange boards and the strong flow at the start line was difficult to navigate. Crews took to sheltering downstream of the lock, before pointing their noses into the stream and drifting rapidly down to the pre-start line.
The senior men’s start was particularly chaotic. Standing waves, strong eddies and a crowded start line meant that bunch couldn’t be tamed. Crowd out the others, or be crowded out yourself. First time around, the starter gave out warnings to several boats pushing the line. Second time around, second warning were issued. And several crews pulled over to empty their boats! Third time around, the race began. And so the grind began…
The fast flow made for a quick race – the men’s, women’s and mixed records were all broken – but it didn’t guarantee and easy race. The rollers at the Sunbury and Shepperton were underwater and out of bounds, meaning longer portage routes had to be used. A strong headwind was wore paddlers down.
But this is our homestretch of water and Royal paddlers performed well. Jon Boyton took 1st place and a course record in the men’s race, with partner Keith Moule. He beat club mate Matt Bowley, who raced with Ed Rutherford, into 2nd.
Junior women, Renee Myburgh & Maia Ellen, took 1st place for Royal. The upcoming and talented duo of Tony Ruff and Dylan Todd bagged the club’s fourth medal, with a 3rd place in the veteran’s.
True character was shown by all that finished. Particularly notable was Ian Blackman’s junior racing group, who were competing in their first race of this distance and their first race including portages. Jack Carter was probably the youngest paddler on the water and raced well with Isaac Blackman in the senior men’s B race, despite being an u12! Phoebe Byrne & Ellen Slack and Lauren Avery & Molly Carter.
A huge thank you is due to all that supported and helped transport boats, bags and people on the day.
Here’s to more top-notch racing throughout the year!