Thanks to Mike Pigott for writing up his report from the race.
Sunday 7th December saw five Richmond paddlers travel down to Dorset to take on the 13.5 mile Stour Descent. The last of the descent races for the year, the Stour is largely flat, twisty and with lots of overhanging trees. So very different to the Liffey, Avon and (the now cancelled) Exe Descents.
The day started with us all meeting up in Blandford to leave cars at the finish. Driving up the mile-long driveway that leads up from the town has to be the best way to arrive at a race, this being necessary as the race finishes in the very extensive grounds of Bryanston School, who are kind enough to allow the use of their boat house for the day.
The conditions were good, not much flow on the river but very mild for December. The low water levels meant an extra portage of the first weir and a fallen tree called for a second additional portage too. Both were very very muddy!
Unlike the races mentioned previously, the trickiest part of the course was not the weir shoot but the tight bends and the trees which lie in wait for you, around them! Maintaining a good position relative to the other boats around you is key, as even if you are able to navigate the course you will quickly come unstuck if the boat in front of you messes things up or if you are unlucky enough to get pushed from behind…
The landscape of the Stour valley is as varied as the course itself, and there is a noticeable difference between the upper and mid sections of the course where the river flows thorough a deep gulley, and the lower parts where the landscape opens up and the river becomes much more genteel. But throughout it is rural, and the closest you come to civilisation is the odd neighbouring farm and a few spectators gathered on the odd minor road bridge and footbridges along the way.
The results were:
James King – 1st senior men K1 in 1:44:28 (and no swims)
Sean Martin – 2nd senior men in the wwr in 2:01:53
Will Abson & Mike Pigott – 4th in senior men K2 in 2:02:41
Helen Taylor & Tristram Turner – 2nd in mixed K2 in 1:49:18
Thanks to Stour Valley Canoe Club for organising the race and to the person who kindly took the photo of us, we don’t appear to be most photogenic bunch!