This Easter weekend, eight crews from Reading Canoe Club will tackle the tough Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race, paddling 125 miles and running over 77 portages, starting from Devizes and finishing at Westminster.
Sam Watson and Nigel Frankland
Team SanMigel will be starting early on Easter Saturday morning and are hoping for a sub-24 hour time in the Senior Doubles category. The ‘Kayak and Crutches’ team are an inspiration to anyone who’s ever said, “I can’t do that, because I’m …”. Sam uses two crutches to get about, but this hasn’t slowed down this dynamic team one iota. We expect this team to pick up speed when they hit the Thames, where their fast cruising speed will really start to show.
Boat number: 383
James Treadgold and Amber Owen
James and Amber have dominated the Junior-Veteran category at the Waterside series, and we expect no less from them on the DW. They’ll be competing in the four-day stage race (as Amber is a junior), so starting on Good Friday and finishing Easter Monday. Both paddlers are ranked in Division 3. This crew’s strength is their perfect timing and technique, backed up with years of experience in both partners. James Treadgold has completed the DW nine times with three top-three finishes, both in K1 and K2, meaning that this crew will be tough to beat.
Boat number: 56
Radek Zielski and Alex Lane
Radek and Alex are competing in the Senior Doubles (Mixed K2) and will be taking on the straight-through canoe race. They put in a very strong show at this year’s Waterside Series and are strong contenders for a top 5 overall finish. Both paddlers are experienced, with Radek wining the K1 Senior Men and Alex competing with her father in 2014. They are renowned for their lightening-quick portages, where Alex’s feet allegedly do not touch the ground! Top this with their fast cruising pace and strong stamina, and this will be a crew to watch.
Radek and Alex are sponsored by Palm Equipment – read their interview here.
Boat number: 379
Daniel has dominated the Veteran’s K1 class at this year’s Waterside Series, taking home the overall trophy. This is his first year competing in K1, but he has completed the race four times, with three wins and one second place. Dan’s experience shows in his general boat-handling skills and rapid portages, and he also has an impressive turn of speed at the burn. Dan’s strength is in his mental toughness and he is able to push himself to the extreme. Dan will have a hard time beating some of the younger Senior Men K1s this year, but his experience and stamina may win through. We expect Dan to be a strong contender for an overall top 5 K1 place.
Boat number: 750
Stefan is the least experienced member of the RCC team. He took up flat-water racing only in May 2014, after decades of paddling short plastic boats. He has risen meteorically through the ranks and was promoted to Division 3 within six months. Although the Senior Men’s class promises to be very strong this year, Stefan hopes for a top-10 finish in Senior K1. He has a fast cruising speed on the water, his portaging speed has increased throughout the Waterside Series, and he has conquered his fear of low bridges. Stefan’s secret weapon is his weight; at 67kg this ‘pond-skater’ makes very little wash so you won’t get a free ride!
Boat number: 731
Brian ‘The Legend’ Greenham has completed the DW thirteen times, with nine wins in a canoeing career spanning 4 decades. Brian still holds the record of 15 hours 34 minutes, set in 1979 with Tim Cornish. In 2014, Brian competed in K2 with Remi Miklos, coming 4th overall and winning the Mixed K2 category in a time of 18 hours and 24 minutes. Despite this wealth of experience, in 2015 Brian will be competing in K1 for the first time, and is a strong contender for the Half Century Cup. Brian is consistent and determined, we anticipate a top-10 finish in Senior K1 class for Brian this year after his strong performance in the Waterside Series.
Boat number: 762
John Drummond is returning to the DW after a ten-year break, for a first attempt at the K1 Veteran. John has completed the DW three times, his best performance in 2004 being ranked 2nd. Together with Dan, Stefan and Brian, John will be competing for the Singles Team Trophy. John has invested in a shiny new Roman kayak for the event, which we suspect will knock minutes off his time! John has numerous Dusi finishes to his name and is a keen adventure racer, which will help portage speed and agility. John is famous for saying, “I may not be that fast, but I won’t get any slower as distance builds”.
Boat number: 769
Simon Gallop completed the DW in K1 in 2013 in a time of 21 hrs 58 minutes, and this makes a good target for this year’s race after a good performance in this year’s Waterside Series.
Boat number: 744