Commodore’s Report 2014 – Richard Hendron

2013 was yet another triumphant year at Richmond Canoe Club with the club going from strength to strength, growing in size and success and achieving results on both the domestic and international racing scene.

Despite a particularly hard winter, with the river in flood for a continues three to four months we were able to continue with business as usual, thanks to the contingency plans that Tim had put in place for paddlers to be able to use Littleton Lake and the links that were built up by Mick Fegeant and others with other clubs such Addlestone, that provided additional options for training while the river was in flood. Hopefully this contingency planning that enabled people to train throughout the flooding will position us well compared to other river clubs as we enter the new season

Moving to competitions, it was our most successful year for Richmond on the international scene, with selections in the Senior Men, Senior Ladies and Junior Men’s Categories as well as junior ladies and junior boys on development trips and regattas. Further we had a number of Veterans attend and medal in the Vet Championships in both marathon and sprint, which is no easy achievement giving that exceptionally high standard of the Vetran class.

Lizzy Broughton continued to dominate the ladies field, becoming

K2 ladies European Champion, winning the K1 World cup as well as winning the prestigious Waterlands Race in Amerstam.

At the world Championships in Demark three Richmond Paddlers made up the small British Team: Lizzy Broughton, Tom Sharpe and Nick Romain – an achievement in its self getting selected for both the individuals and the club.

The selection of Nick Romain at this event was the first junior Kayak from Richmond that had been selected for a World Championships for many years, – (since Lizzy Broughton) and I am sure a sign of further things to come as we see our ever growing and developing junior section go from strength to strength.

Within the junior contingent we have seen incredible performances from people such as Oliver Khlaf, Joseph Webb, Ben Powell and Lilly Wong to name a few who amongst many others are showing great dedication and potential for the future.

We now have one of the largest, and certainly the most active junior sections of all Canoe Clubs. This is a Tremendous achievement especially when considering only 10 years ago we had very few juniors and no organized progression structure. A fantastic achievement and special mention must go to Tim and Sue Middlehurst and the numerous other junior coaches who continue to dedicate huge amounts of time such as Mick Fegeant, Tony W, Jeff Lindsay, Wendy Dobson to name a few.

The strong talent that we now have across the board has meant that we have dominated many of the marathon and sprint regattas that we have attended. In the National Championships we came 3rd in the Hasler Finals 2nd, while at Nottingham in the inter club regatta we narrowly missed out on 1st by a couple of points. In the national sprint Champs we had many podium finishes.

Richmond has been out in force at all local marathons and regattas and credit must go to the coaches for getting the paddlers out but also to Will Abson for taking the lead as marathon secretary and being the driving force behind getting many to races. Richmond Continues with its unique and quirky individualness in fielding more paddlers than any other club to niche events such as the Liffey, Avon Decent, Sella and other similar races.

On the adult Novice front, The adult novices continue to be led by Corial, and Jemima who put in a significant amount of time, assisted by Ian Clarke, Klaudia and others. Last year five, 5 week courses were run introducing fifty people paddlers Richmond Canoe Club, which resulted in a significant number of those joining the club. The Novice courses continue to be heavily oversubscribed, filling up within hours of opening. We are now starting to see adults who attended the novice course progress through to the higher division. Such as the likes of Tom Walker and Laura Proble who incidentally completed the DW last weekend.

At the elite end of the club Steve Baker has taken the lead in coaching the divisions 1-3, producing programs and providing high level coaching and advice. My personal thanks goes to Steve for single handedly taken this task on and making a very positive contribution to the elite end.

The coaching structure has been further enhanced by the creation of a regular Club Coaching meetings, creating a forum for all coaches to get together and discuss setting targets and identifying issues and areas of improvement. This is a new forum but is already assisting in uniting and bringing together the different coaching group and getting everybody working to the same agenda. My Thanks for getting this of the ground goes to Paul Wells.

Our coaching structure across the board is as robust as its ever been and my heart felt thanks goes to all those coaches that have made it so. That said, it does not mean there is nothing left to do or we can be complacent. There is scope to tighten and improve the coaching structure particularly for the divisions 4,5 and 6 paddlers as to ensure that there is a continuous unbroken transition.

The Canoe Section remains buoyant led by Marcus Ghohar and supported by Louise Phillips. Although small there are some very promising athletes within the canoe section such as Ben, Adrian, and Marko.

There is no doubt about it, Richmond Canoe Club, is in the strongest position its ever been in, with excellent competition results, more members then ever, better equipment, excellent coaching structure across the board, lots of young people coming into the sport, lots of expertise in our ranks, financial security and the most space we have had. We are in a good and strong position and many canoe clubs could only dream of being in our position. Its been the various people who have sat on the committees over the last 10 years as well as all the other numerous volunteers that have helped us achieve the strong position that we are in today.

 We must continually strive to improve and not stand still. As the Commodore amongst other things, it falls on me to ensure the demands of today are met, while at the same time planning for the future demands of tomorrow.

We must be guarded of not becoming a victim of our own success, particularly in finding that demand outstrips resources. We must ensure as we progress forward, we drive our own destiny, knowing where we are going and why we are going that way

In the last year we have acquired the boat house next door on a peppercorn rent and the purchase of that boat shed is progressing and should be completed within weeks. This has given us upwards of 45 extra racks

A further 40 new rack spaces have been realized by removing the old men’s changing room and building a more space efficient and compact storage / boat repair area.

Numerous investments have been made in purchasing boats, paddles, lifejackets and we continue to have a healthy large and varied stock of club boats. Further money has been invested in training and development for members such as the first aid at work course that Jemima Johnston arranged for coaches and other club members.

Last year in my commodores report I said that our challenge as a club comes at ensuring that all those who want to, can fulfill their potential, whatever that may be. This continues to be our challenge especially throughout the winter while managing competing demands on scares gym space. Again, in last years report I mentioned that improving gym and paddling machine capacity is one way that we could change and improve, and I said that I would be looking into this over the coming months. With the generous help of club member and architect David Leech this has been examined and the expansion of the Gym / paddling machine area identified as a realistic possible area of development, which would more than double the size of the gym and paddling machine area, but on the down side reduce the amount of racks available. If there is an appetite for this expansion then further and detailed drawings & costing’s would need to be done, with a final version put before an EGM for the club members to have the final say. This is ultimately for club members to decide on.

Looking forward to the year ahead Richmond Canoe Club will this year for the 1st time in is 70 year history holds the Hasler finals. As you will all know this is a prestigious event and the fact that we are holing it is testament to our success. Will Abson has been busy working on this for the last six months and I am sure as the event nears he will require the assistance of many of our members I have no doubt it will be a success as the plans and preparation are well underway and in hand by will.

Finally the only thing left for me to address and comment on is the Richmond Spirit. (not the Vodka type)! The Richmond Spirit is the main reason why I am proud to be a part of this great club, the quirkiness the individualism, the get up and go, or as Peter Barnes says, “The Go factor” – The Richmond Spirit of friendliness and go factor is very much as strong as its ever been, everybody playing their part and contributing to making a people friendly place and atmosphere where things get done. It’s the individuals that make up the club and makes Richmond what it is.

 This brings me to the final part, which is the Commodores Award.

Commodores Award.

The Canoe Club is run nearly exclusively by volunteers. Each member is encouraged to play there bit and get involved whether that is sitting on a committee, coaching, washing the cups running the galley et al. You don’t have to be on a committee or a coach to make a significant contribution to the upkeep and running of the club.

Last year I was on the verge of being stoned by members as the hot water system failed yet again, leaving cold showers. As this was the fourth time in so many months that the heating system had packed up I decided to leave it for a bit while I got quotes on various overhauls of the system. The cheapest quote that came back for a simple fix was £3500. While discussion were being had with various boiler companies mysteriously overnight the boiler system had been fixed and at a cost in parts of just over £100. The tooth fairy who had taken on the job of singlehandedly fixing the system saving the canoe clubs thousands of pounds was no other than Stefan Dums

Despite only joining the club fairly recently Stefan has not been shy at getting involved, often without any prompting in lending his skills at fixing and repairing things. The showers as a great example, which have not broken since and saved us thousands of pounds. On acquiring the new boat shed, Stefan was the first in their installing racks, and only in the last few weeks Stafan has led the project in removing the old men’s changing room and installing a new compact boat repair area and fitting a further 40 racks. Many of you may have noticed our radiators in the club room with some special attachment that adjusts the hearting if the doors are left open, a fixture that Stefan took on him self to acquire and fit I am sure at some point he will explain how it works…. The new addition of the table tennis table, was a donation of Stefan. The list of where he has helped out and more than played his part in the short time he has been at the canoe club goes on.

Stefan embodies the spirit that is Richmond Canoe Club, taking responsibility for tasks.