The Wey Hare and Hounds is a 10km time trial series held over the winter months at the Wey Kayak Club in Guildford. This year a total of 16 Royal Canoe Club paddlers managed a staggering 21 age-graded ‘podium’ finishes, 9 age-grade first places and 3 age-grade new course records.
In terms of weather and conditions, this year has been one of the most turbulent in recent memory, with more races postponed this one year than in the past few years combined. It all started with a rather dramatic weir collapse a few days before the first race. A simple youtube search will find you footage of the moment it goes. This meant that the upper half the course was drained off and walkable (not paddlable) and the lower half was flooded. Arrangements were made and an alternative race route devised. Followed by the wind and storms that chose only to arrive at the weekend, this must have been quite a nightmare for the organisers -and parents trying to plan anything.
If the organisation was deep-set in drama, that was nothing compared to the actual racing. We have had pumps fail, rudders snap, first time paddlers, records set, paddlers caught on fish-lines, paddlers doing the splits over the top of another competitors boat, multiple swimmers (you know who you are) and the emergence of pre-race muffins.
One of the series highlights for Royal has to be the under 16 males of Royal. With the Abraham lads taking first, second or third in their age category almost at every race.
- Harry – first, second, second, first, third.
- Jack – third, third, second, first.
- Michael – first, first, second. The second place he secured despite having a swim.
Flynn of the under 14 male category also managed to secure a second, first, first over the series as well as having one of the most improved times over the winter taking off 2’41 over the 10km course. The biggest improver goes to Erin with a removal of 2’49 from his time. In between being caught on fishing lines and taking a swim, Joseph in the 16-18 male category also managed to take off 2’22, another fantastic improvement.
The biggest gulf in performance came from senior paddler Henry with his slowest time being over 8’ behind his average. He claims his rudder wires snapped, but far more likely that he just couldn’t stay on the wash of Harry setting his fastest time of the series despite being crashed into by Henry.
Because it was a revised course, every ‘best time’ this year sets a new course record. Tris Turner kicked off this record setting with a winning veteran male time and setting the record at 48’43, it remained unbeaten for the remainder of the series. In race two Michael Motha flew his way around in 47’36. Last mention but by no means least, Edie King turned up for one-race-k1-wonder to set a new course record for the under 14 female category with a time of 57’53.
Some races to look forward to coming up are the Thamesside and Waterside series being played out over February and March. These are usually seen as a warm-up and preparation for the Devizes to Westminster race to which Lauren Avery and Ellen Slack are entered.