The Easter Weekend saw 13 Richmond paddlers take to the start line of the 125 mile Devizes to Westminster Canoe Marathon. After a long and disrupted winter of training race conditions were reasonable, with the flow having subsided following months of rain. We had five crews entered into the non stop event, with a K2 and a K1 also racing over 4 days.
We had one class winner this year, the ladies crew of Sue and Beth. These two surpassed all expectation, taking over an hour and a half off their target time to be the very first boat under the bridge at Westminster. Their finish time was 21:09, 14th overall, and winners of the ladies class by over three hours in a completely dominant performance. This was an even more impressive given that Sue tore her calf muscle just one month ago and was unable to run fully. She has also managed to combine training for the race with coaching the junior group all winter. This was Beth’s first non-stop completion of the race after junior and K1 finishes in previous years.
In the non stop event our fastest crew was Rob and Nettie who finished 7th overall and 2nd in the mixed class in an excellent time of 19:48. This was a partnership that was created quite late on in winter, but following a successful Waterside build up hope was high that they could challenge for the mixed trophy. In the end they missed out to a very fast Reading crew, but they paddled an excellently paced race, catching up and then gaining time on their other mixed rivals throughout the night.
They were followed shortly afterwards by Matt and Ben, rowing converts who have gained an impressive amount of speed in a very short time. The pair crossed the line in 20:37 to take 12th place, beating a huge number of crews in lighter, faster boats. For two paddlers new to the sport (although a dab hand at rowing) this was a superb race.
Our fourth boat was Tom and Laura, who are both reasonably new to paddling, but who put in a huge amount of hard work over winter to prepare for the race. They finished looking strong in 23:00 taking 27th place and 6th in the mixed class. These four boats also combined to take the team prize for Richmond Canoe Club, holding onto the trophy we won last year. Completing the Richmond K2s were Jeff and Ollie, who have not had much training time together but who put in a very solid paddle to complete the course in 24:00.
In the four day event Team Herwanger (Tanya and Jorg), were entered in the endeavour class which is targeted as a challenge rather than a race, but this did not stop the pair from pushing hard on all four days. They finished in a very competitive time of 19:25, well ahead of any other endeavour crews. Our final entrant was Mary, who paddled at the club a while back and was competing under Richmond colours again. She completed the four days in 26:27, to finish 3rd veteran female.
In a race where the drop out rate was 30%, to have five out of five non stop K2s complete the course is an excellent result for both the paddlers and the club. Congratulations to all who competed and put in such excellent performances.