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Commodore's Report at 2009 AGM

Commodore’s Report on 2008: Another very positive year. While we remain the largest canoe club in the UK, that accolade is just a numbers thing. What makes this club successful is what actually happens on the water and to a lesser extent on the land. We can all take pride in the fact that this must be one of the most progressive clubs in the country. With our Portakabin days far behind us the club now exudes the positive energy of people enjoying their paddling.

Our stalwart groups, the adult novice and the touring groups continue to flourish and are a credit to all involved. These groups continue to be a central part of club life. Jim Mullany and of course Peter Barnes are to be thanked. Sarah and Ulrick have done great work with new paddlers and now have taken their dedication to a new level by making a complete new paddler.

On the coaching front, Neil has been diligent and energetic moving several new qualified coaches through the new BCU scheme.

Competitive paddling was an area that we decided to re-focus on in recent years, since various influencing factors, now long forgotten, had seen our strength wane from some of the glory years of the past. And we are already seeing the results. At many of our regional marathon races we now field fifty or sixty paddlers across all the divisions. At the National Club Championships we finished a powerful second, loosing by only one wayward point!

In senior competition, our South Africans, Brendan, Brett and Julian have returned the Richmond name to Marathon Division One and Sprint A Ranking. The home-grown Hendrons continue to dominate Waterside and DW racing in their own utterly inimitable style, always featuring at the polar extremes of result sheets. This year we even had a return to National Team status with Richard Hendron being selected for the Irish Wild Water Racing team.

A development strategy started some years ago by Roxanne and Trevor was to start our juniors at a very young age. This is really starting to pay off now because many of them are not so little anymore and they now have skills and experience many seniors would envy. Zosha, Liz and Rob have put in great work with this group, which is probably the most exciting part of the club right now, and that is really saying something given that so much is happening. Already two generations of this group have graduated up to the more senior training groups, while the intake to replace them is strong and enthusiastic.

Our kayak successes have even spilled over into canoe section. The British Canoe Union identified canoe paddling as a target area for growth and Richmond, ably led by Marcus, has responded energetically. Marcus is now coaching about fifteen single-blade canoe paddlers.

We have been enormously fortunate to have two coaches provided by the canoe union. I think we have admirably honored the BCU’s commitment to us. Under Marcus’s stewardship, canoe has now grown from small niche to a significant group. And as for the ‘Dynamo Wetherall’, how did we manage before he was unleashed?! We have grown into our new facility very very quickly and we have the BCU to thank for facilitating this.

This is an annual review, a time to look back and reflect. Along with all the success of the last year, there have been moments of sadness. We lost last years Commodore’s Award recipient. He departed this life in a blaze of strength and courage. He was a dyed-in-the-wool Richmond paddler, boy and man, and a part of the very fabric of this club. We miss Alex terribly.

We also lost John Schandelmayer. John came to paddling late in life but exuded great passion for the sport. He died on the finish line of a race he had just won, what a way to go!

While both men were very different, they were at the same time so similar. They were both inspirational and embodied the positive spirit that paddling can bring into a person’s life. Their legacy is the inspiration to go paddling!

Commodore’s Award. This is always a difficult decision. So many people contribute so much to the club. The thing I value the most about this club is it’s openness and accessibility. That does not happen by accident. It happens because people put effort into welcoming new members onto the water. This year the champion in this arena is undoubtably, Ulrick Lorentzen.

Committee: In addition to those already mentioned, this is the time to thank our other committee members. An army marches on its stomach and Karen has been instrumental in making that happen. Hazel continues to be our inbuilt auditor and a regulator of the boat-lust that Trevor and I are afflicted with. Clare and Sam have performed such an impressive seamless double-act that I think everyone should have a twin. Chris Haynes has done a magnificent job marshaling the marathon men, while Kimberley demonstrates that it is possible to be both wise and young. Tim Killip, not content with creating an entire K4 crew has shouldered the task of tending to the building. Peter H has been a man not just of words but of wisdom too.

This year we loose Mike Pigott after many years in the membership secretary role. He brought an industrious tenacity to the task and we thank him for that.

Our thanks go to all of our committee.

So in summary, a positive year, albeit tinged with sadness, but even in the sadness there is a positive message - enjoy your paddling!

Commodore's Report 2008

Commodore's Report 2007

Commodore's Report 2006


Landsdowne Boathouse
81-83 Petersham Road
Richmond upon Thames
Surrey TW10 6UT
United Kingdom

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