GB Juniors trip to French National Championships

Over the weekend of 26th / 27th September the Marathon Junior Development Squad travelled to France to compete at the French National Marathon Championships, the equivalent, if not grander version of our National Marathon Championships.

The event was held in a town called Bouchemain near Angers on the River Maine near its confluence with the River Loire.

A team of 14 juniors travelled with 4 coaches to the event including Fred Kemp and ex Reading paddler Hasfer Kabeer. The object of the trip is to show the juniors what it is like racing away from home friends and parents etc. All the GB juniors taken are top paddlers in their age group in the UK, so generally above the average standard of the French paddlers in their age group at this event. However, so as to make the race more challenging all of the GB juniors are entered into the age class above what they would paddle in the UK. None of the juniors are expected to win, or win easily, but to experience racing with foreign paddlers etc.

The format of the racing is similar to the UK Championships with K2 racing one day and K1 racing the next with courses of 15km or 20km and two or three portages.

The course was an upstream start with a 500m sprint to go under and fairly narrow bridge arch before joining the course proper. Then onto laps of around 5km with a portage at the end of each lap going almost immediately into the bottom turn.

The river at Bouchemaine is quite wide compared to most English rivers and capable holding starts of 70 plus paddlers without taking up the entire width of the river. However paddlers on the far left certainly had their work cut out for them against those that started on the right. There was some flow on the river, but not too much. But there was an increasing headwind over the weekend on the upstream section making parts of the course choppy.

Fred raced K2 with a boy called Timmy Dowden from RLS in the under 16s event. There were 26 boats in their start. From the start of the race the boys were in the lead group and seemed quite comfortable. The two pictures below shows how well they started. The pictures are taken 7 seconds apart! Fred is in the back of the yellow boat on the left.

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Portaging at this level is fast and furious. The portage itself was onto a pontoon only capable of taking 2 K2s per side, and one side being particularly difficult to come into at speed. Missing the pontoon or misjudging it meant a sort of beach portage which needed some care! Fred and Timmy portaged well although missing the pontoon on the first lap and sprinted away with the lead boat each time causing the remaining French to chase hard and reducing the group at each portage.

The following pictures shows the boys in the lead group approaching the portage and deciding that only the far side had space.

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Missing the pontoon and doing a beach portage, but still being with the lead boat at the other end of the portage!

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The boys eventually lapped the girls… That’s Hafsa waiting to put her boat in! Around another lap and to the finish!

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Fred and Timmy finished a very credible 2nd. To the credit of the French organisation there were two prize giving ceremonies, one International and one French Championship, unlike a couple of years ago when the British only walked away with the knowledge of beating the French!

On the Sunday Fred and Timmy were out again but racing each other and 57 other boys.
Fred coming into and out of the first portage.

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Fred coming through the second portage. And leaving the second portage.

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Finishing with Timmy, 2:57 behind the winner.


Well done Fred and Timmy.

Elmbridge Hasler

The Elmbridge Hasler is being held on Sunday 4th October.

Elmbridge Hasler Details

Embridge is within the South East region, so no Hasler points will be awarding for Reading. However, it is just over an hours drive from Reading and would make a great training race for all those that don’t want a weekend off.  (Perhaps we have some people looking to do their first K1 race in division 5?) Entry is team leader only.

Bye bye to Kiwi Sam

Reading Canoe Club were lucky enough to gain a pretty speedy visitor for six months this year. Sam Newlands, one of the top paddlers in New Zealand, came over to England in April, after graduating as a doctor. As you might imagine, there’s a small hard core of paddlers in New Zealand, but not that many, so he was looking forward to training hard and get plenty of race practice in a big field.

Sam entered about six Hasler races and managed to get promoted into Div 1. Wow – weren’t we pleased to get all those Hasler points. In Div 1, he had the pleasure of competing against all the top Longridge squad. Still he stood his ground and got some reasonable results.

Sam racing at the Marathon Nationals. (Photo by Chirs Worrall)
Sam racing at the Marathon Nationals. (Photo by Chirs Worrall)

He also made the journey up to Nottingham’s Holme Pierrepoint to brave the sprints. We say ‘brave’ as it’s so horrendously windy … often. His first one in May – not that was super windy, you might as well have been at sea with the waves. Sam didn’t seem too perturbed and joined us for the next two regattas! At the National event in July, he did well getting into the A final with tough competition such as Boyton and Bowley. Sadly for Reading his vacation wasn’t long enough to include Interclubs in September.

Marathon was Sam’s preferred event due to his multi-sport / surf-ski background. While here he also made a couple of European trips as well. He raced in Germany at the World Cup, representing New Zealand (he just rang the board back home and asked if they minded!) and came 14th and he also took the long drive over to Spain to compete in the mad Sella Descent. Despite having food poisoning the day before – messy – he came 12th in the mixed K2 with Immi.

Back in the UK, he did Marathon Nationals in Norwich and gained 7th place in a tough field.

Sam  racing at the Marthon Nationals. (Photo by Mike Rees-Clark)
Sam racing at the Marthon Nationals. (Photo by Mike Rees-Clark)

Sam was the perfect visitor who really took the time to immerse himself in the club and help drag a lot of people round on his wash! We miss his laidback attitude – still in cosy jumper and trackies, eating breakfast, 5 minutes before a race. We wish him the best of luck in his paddling, as a doctor and hope he’ll come and visit again.

Cheers Sam, it was great to have you.

9 Medals For Reading Canoe Club at Marathon Nationals

On the 22nd and 23rd August, the National Marathon kayak and canoe Championships took place in Norwich. This is a huge event for athletes within the sport, and is hosted by a different canoe club each year. People turn up to race in different age categories, all with a vision of winning their race and becoming National Champion for their age group.

This year, 11 members of Reading Canoe Club competed in this national event with some fantastic results.

In the Under-14 races, Fred Kemp and Stephanie Hutchinson were representing their club. Fred won a Silver in his K1 race, and Gold and National Champion in his K2 race with his partner William McCracken of Banbury Canoe Club, making them the fastest Under 14 K2 partnership in Britain.

Fred Kemp finishing in K1.
Fred Kemp approaching the finish line.

Similarly, in the Under 14 girls races, Stephanie came 2nd in both her K1 and her K2 race with Flossie Ball of Wiltshire Youth Club. It is an excellent achievement for Reading Canoe Club to have two of their juniors on the podium and more great results followed for the rest of Reading’s competitors.

Stephanie Hutchinson
Stephanie Hutchinson finishing.

Alex Lane finished the Under 23 Ladies K1 race in an impressive 3rd place, and promotion to division 3. She then went to to earn another bronze medal in the Senior Ladies K2 race with Nottingham paddler Katherine Burbeck.

Alex and Kat
Alex and Kat approach the portage.

One of the best performances of the weekend came from Brian Greenham, winning National Champion for the Over 64 Men’s race against some tough competition. Brian is a coach at Reading Canoe Club, and is a very inspirational figure for the juniors. Nigel Frankland, another brilliant coach at the club, partnered up with Brian and they competed in the Over 54 Men’s race in which they came 3rd after an exciting sprint finish.

Nigel and Brian
Nigel and Brian sprinting for the finish.

Also racing for Reading, Sam Newlands came 7th in Senior Men, which was his last race in the UK before heading back to New Zealand. Stefan Senk raced in the Over 34 category finishing 4th. Brian Greenham raced again, this time in the Over 49 category coming an impressive 6th.

In K2, Fred Kemp also raced up in the Under 16 category with Tim Dowden to finish a very impressive 4th. Imogen Collins partnered up with Emily Illinesi from Elmbridge to come 4th in Senior Ladies. In the Mixed K2 race Reading fielded 4 boats, highest placed where Radek and Alex, who came 7th. Having stormed through the field Ro and Brian had a swimming adventure at the bottom turn on the last lap, but they carried on to finish 25th.

Finishing 8th in the medal table out of 48 clubs, including one from Spain, was a great result for Reading Canoe Club.

Results: Final Results

Photos: Chris Worral (Flickr), Mike Rees-Clark (Facebook), Phil Caisley (Facebook), Olypics (Facebook)

6th out of 46 for Reading Canoe Club at Nottingham Interclubs September Regatta 2015

Sixth out of 46 clubs – now that’s not bad going for a team of just 20 paddlers, is it? But then all our competitors were pretty game and most seemed to have put a hand up for every race going – K4, K2 and K1, for all three distances. Perhaps, not quite, but nearly.

We had some great results, too – two firsts for Tony M in K1 and by a long way, and two more in K2 with Paul Ralph (naughty Paul – remember, always weigh your boat!), another for Nigel in his 500m K1 and 3rd in his K2 with Peter M. Vicki and Bethan scored a hard-fought 2nd place in their 1000m K2 and 3rd in their 200m K2 final. Dan S was 3rd in both his 200m and 1000m K1 finals – amazing when he hadn’t been on the water for 3 weeks! And more 3rd places for Stefan, Laslo and Evan. Erika had to jump into Anita’s K2 for 200m and they raced to 4th place.

Tony & Paul ahead of the field.
Beth & Vicki.
Beth & Vicki.

Perhaps the most exciting races to watch were the K4s – both Masters K4 were soooooooo close, on one we reckoned they lost by a mere 3.8cm. Gutting. And the Ladies K4 took an excellent 4th.

Masters A/B K4.
Masters A/B K4.
Ladies C/D K4.
Ladies C/D K4.

It was a great weekend … and yes, that was partly down to the weather. How is Vicki L ever going to believe that Nottingham’s National Water Centre is nearly always the coldest, windiest place in the UK when she’s just attended two consecutive regattas and both were sunny and calm! Unheard of.

The most enjoyable aspect of the weekend, however, was the number of paddlers from Reading we managed to get up there. That with the great weather meant we could all loiter on the steps, by the finish line, chatting and cheering on our paddlers. Loudly.

Loitering on the steps.

Roll on next year – let’s get an even bigger team up there and win back the MacGregor Cup!