All posts by Reading Canoe Club

September 2019 Sprint Regatta

August 31st/September 1st saw the final National regatta of 2019 – the National Championships for Juniors and U23. Our select Reading team comprised purely of that … 12 juniors and two U23s. With our World and European Champion, Dan Atkins, in the line up, we certainly hoped for a few medals.

In 2018 the team won a total of 9 medals, four of those Gold. In 2019, we tripled the number of Golds to 12 and a total of 25 medals. That was awesome racing, Team. Well done to you all, whether or not you won a medal. You raced brilliantly.

Dan unsurprisingly took a share of the medals – 6 Golds and two Silvers, two of those Golds won within 7 minutes of each other (200m K2 with Freddie, then two races later, K2 200m in Men’s Open). Freddie and Dan’s K4 also took Gold – the same crew that competed at the World’s. All together Freddie took home three Golds (K2 200 with Dan, K2 500 with Philip Miles and the K4, the latter two with four hours sleep!).

Talking of K4s, both Georgia’s k4 U14 Girls and Sam B and Alex T’s U16 Boys K4 won Gold. Toby and James N’s U14 K4 won Bronze, as did Finlay’s in U16!

Toby B was racing k2 with Harry Freeland (soon to be racing for Reading). They went a storm, winning Silver for all three distances.

Sam and Alex repeated their success of 2017, taking Bronze for K2 500m and 1000m, plus Sam won Bronze in K1 1000m. Georgia and Mollie Ball from DEV were also on top K2 form, winning Silver for both 500m and 200m.

Not be out done by the Juniors, Sam G in U23s, took a Gold in K2 500m.

It was great to see Rachel jumping into a K2 with a new paddler, Ruby from Elmstead, and a Royal K4. Annabel was in great paddling form in K1 and in K2 with Beatrice from DEV. Becky and Rory, both in U18s but only just, raced really well in a tough field. Becky took first place in Final B in both 200m and 500m K1.

Immi even jumped in a boat – a K4 with World’s junior canoeists Alix Aitchison and Charlotte Carey, plus Emily Illinesi. They didn’t win, but they laughed all the way to the finish line.

It’s been a great year of sprint racing for the Club. Do get the dates for next year’s regattas in your diary!

Cardington Slalom Event August 31st-Sept 1st

Reading Canoe Club slalom team take to the white water at Cardington Slalom competition in Bedford

There has been impressive competition by all, especially between the members of the Neville family; a few tears were shed when Emily beat her dad by 3 seconds on Saturday. But order was restored when Andy Neville beat Emily by 4 seconds on Sunday.

Emily Neville came first on both Saturday and Sunday in her division meaning that she is one win away from promotion.

The rest of the slalom team did fantastically. Special mention to Marc as he stayed upright on every run and didn’t miss any gates. George managed an impressive 5th place on Saturday but powered home for a second place on Sunday.

Tom Robson sped down the course improving on each run homing his precision and timing.

Big thank you to Andy F and Craig for coaching support and supplying lots of flapjack throughout the very enjoyable weekend of paddling.

By Zoe Neville

Junior’s Summer Camp at RCC

On the 28th July 40 Junior paddlers descended on Reading Canoe Club for a Special Training Camp. With paddlers coming together from 9 different clubs it was certainly an experience that no one will forget shortly. The Camp was led by Devizes Coaches Trevor and Bev Hunter, Daniel Colby and Reading Coach Jim New. 

The week kicked off with some of the speedy boys shooting off to Dorney first thing to be coached by Eric Farrell (Liam Heath’s Coach), while the others got started at the club. At the end of the day, participants stayed on to take part in the club’s weekly time trial – a record number for attendance with a 50-boat staggered line-up! Tough for time-keepers!

Tuesday was our wet day. Not to worry – another group was off to Dorney to be coached by Eric, while the rest of us endured the rainy Thames. 

Wednesday was the final day for camp goers to visit Dorney and it was the turn of the youngsters. They had a very special treat, training with the big man himself – Liam Heath!! They came back with the biggest of smiles and buzzing with excitement. Truly a memory they will hold onto for a very long time. 

The rest of the week was held at RCC and was a huge success. With much thanks going to RCC club paddlers for being hugely welcoming. The children all worked extremely hard during the course of the week and enjoyed their downtime at the campsite. With their brains buzzing and bodies exhausted from all that training, they got to enjoy a film night on Thursday, this is with great thanks to Jonny Nelson and Nik Topham for organising and getting this set up. 

Friday came around, the last day, and after a hugely fun day with training and racing completed, it was time to get back to camp before heading home Saturday morning. The last evening was a personal favourite, we had a massive bonfire on the go and the children took to playing catch and cricket (the bat was a bit of wood they found on the floor!) together and reminiscing on the best bits of the week. Us coaches got to enjoy poems that the junior paddlers had created at our expense! 

It was a fantastic week!! I would like to say a massive thank you to all the organising team at Devizes CC and Siobhan at Banbury. I would also like to say a massive thanks to the Tophams for the use of their garden for the camping. Right, on to planning next year’s now!!!

Handicap Race and celebration BBQ at RCC

Monday 5th August saw the 2nd in our Handicap race and bbq. It was fortuitously placed just in time to welcome our World’s Paddlers home. They returned home that afternoon – the new World k1 200-metre Champion Dan Atkins leading the squad down the path, as 60 RCC members, with paddles raised, cheered them through, flags waving. Not only did we have our Reading Worlds paddlers – Dan, Freddie, Sam G and Magnus (OoP member), we were delighted to have fellow GB squad members Alix Aitchinson and Philip Miles come to join in the fun.

Thanks Jim, Nigel and all the team for organising such a lovely celebration evening and fun event and all the amazing decorations.

Reading’s Dan Atkins crowned World Champion

It took Reading Canoe Club’s Dan Atkins just 36.835 seconds to power down the 200 metre course at Pitesti in Romania and win Gold and World Champion title in sprint kayaking. Over the previous two days he had dominated both his heat and semi final and was one of the favourites to win. Still it was a very close race, with 2nd place going to Germany’s Tom Maassen just six hundreths (.062) of a second behind him and Spain’s Gabriel Martinez in 3rd place just one hundredth of a second behind that.

Dan said “I didn’t know if I’d won it, but then I saw the scoreboard and heard the cheers from the crowd (the home team and rest of the GB squad) and knew I’d won it. It was a great race.”

He was back in a boat in the afternoon, racing K4 (four-man boat) with Reading’s Freddie Kemp, plus Andras Kereszturi and Philip Miles. They were delighted to finish 11th overall in the 500 metre K4 event.

Dan and fellow Club sprinter Freddie have been lucky enough to train this year alongside the UK’s reigning 200-metre Olympic Champion Liam Heath MBE and his coach Eric Farrell. In fact, this is the second title Dan has won in the space of two weeks – he took Gold and European Champion in Czech Republic just 14 days earlier.

Reading Canoe Club was proud to have four of their paddlers at the World Sprint Canoeing and Kayaking competition this year – an event which saw entries from 63 countries and the world’s very top Under 18 and Under 23 sprint canoeists. Besides Dan and Freddie, there was Sam Glover in the U23 500-metre K4 and Anna Palmer in C1 and C2 canoe events.

For further information on canoeing, please email info@reading-canoe.org.uk

The Annual Picnic Paddle 2019

31st July saw a happy group of us set off for the annual picnic paddle. We took the boats up to Pangbourne early and waited with Stormy for everyone to arrive. It was a cold but sunny start to the day, especially for those who experienced the river a little earlier than anticipated!  Once boats were allocated we set off to enjoy our day, I was lucky enough to share a boat with Alice who kept me entertained with her energy and chatting all day!

We arrived at Mapledurham lock and had fun sinking down with the water, then carried on through to the beach where picnics were enjoyed by all.  Next was the official messing about in the river – luckily it was lovely and warm by then. Nigel and the kids and some of the big kids (adults) swam, sank boats, splashed one another and generally had a good time for a couple of hours before setting off back to the club just as the cows decided to come for their lunchtime swim.  A leisurely paddle downstream took us back to the club where, of course, we ended the day jumping into the river multiple times!  Another successful picnic paddle!

Shepperton 2019 Slalom competition

Another weekend of successes for Reading Canoe Club slalom team!

On 13-14th July, a number of our slalom paddlers travelled down to Shepperton Weir to take part in the annual slalom competition. For some of our paddlers this was their first ever competition and for many others it was the first opportunity to try moving water. Although managing a few swims early on, our junior paddlers fought really hard in their first runs to manage a Reading-dominated score board!

After quite a few of Liz’s bacon butties at lunch, our paddlers were powdered up and ready for second runs, and the results were amazing! After battling the course (and doing the gates in the right order) Peter Skinner bagged himself first place closely followed by Luke Hadley in second and Simon Gosciniak in sixth, both gaining a promotion to Division 3! Also in Division 4, Holly Williams flew around the course improving her previous time by 62 seconds putting her in fourth place and fastest in her age category. Racing for the girls in Division 3, Zoe Neville shot down the course gaining minimal penalties and a massive improvement of 65 seconds!

Over in the boys’ category, George Murphy, Tom Robson and Mark Gutteridge powered through the gates, taking home trophies for first by Tom and third by George. Mark made massive improvements on his time and performed two upright runs despite having a few wobbles earlier on.

On Sunday our paddlers produced equally amazing runs with Tom and George placed first and third once again, this time with Peter on their tails coming 13th in his first ever Division 3 race! Representing the girls, Erin Bonsall also competed in her first division 3 race managing 5th place and making vast improvements! For the Division 4 men, Simon Gosciniak showed his fearlessness speeding down the course and coming home with 3rd place!

Well done to everyone who competed this weekend, it was astonishing to have a Reading paddler in the top three in almost every category! I hope everyone enjoyed their time on the whitewater and are looking forward to more competitions soon.

By Emily Neville

July 2019 K4 Race Day

Hot and sunny – the perfect conditions for a K4 race day. 34 boats were entered across the 5 categories – A (fastest, paddlers division rankings must be 11 or less), B (12-19), C (20-25), D (26+), plus the Rockets.

34 boats in total from 10 clubs, some coming from as far as Nottingham to compete. Reading put out seven and a half crews and gained a 1st in Races D and B, 2nd and 4th in Race C. Ours were the only Rockets, but they showed us all how to race with gusto.

A great day – thanks to all the team.

Highdown Fun Day, July 11th 2019

35 excited Year 7s turned up for our Canoe Fun Day – the first ever hosted by Reading Canoe Club. It was held specifically for students from Highdown School who had completed a 5-week beginner’s course during April/May and June/July (a total of 48). It was intended to be part fun / celebration and part a test out of the skills they’d learnt.

Nigel and Jim were leading the sessions, with the assistance of top junior ‘coaches’ – Sam B, Alex T, Rachel N, Rory T and Joseph B, with Emily Neville demonstrating the slalom. The four teachers attending were kept firmly on bankside, at leastuntil games time.

The 35 were split into three teams – Red, Yellow and Blue – and got started with a sprint relay. That was in K1, K2 or K4, as preferred. Great racing, only two capsizes and the Red team came out on top.

Next up – Silly Slalom. Again a team race through and round the poles, with a bit of limbo and paddle-throwing-through-the-hoop for a good measure, to get a team time, with penalties for touching poles or missing any out.

Final activity was games on the water – tug of war, charioteering, who could cling longest to the top of Nigel’s slalom boat or, if that was all a bit too complicated, simply jumping off the platform for a swim.

Homemade chocolate banana cake and other goodies galore kept the Year 7s’ energy levels up and they all had a fun-charged day. We do hope we’ll see a few of them back as members to learn more skills. It would seem we might, judging from their enthusiastic comments. They were a lovely crew of enthusiastic paddlers and even the few, who were a little nervous at first, got out there and enjoyed themselves.

Thank you to the teachers – Mr Morris, Mr Lee, Mrs Sadler and Mr Walker – who transported the children down to us. They seemed very chilled, with little to do bar some counting!

Thanks to all the helpers, particularly Nigel for masterminding it.

A few quotes from the students on what they thought of the course:

This was a great experience and the chocolate banana cake is delicious”

It should have been longer. Epic, loved it. A longer week course.”

“I really enjoyed my time here.” “It was the most fun thing ever!”

I had lots of fun today. Very nice food, good games on the water. Great staff too. Overall it was a great fun experience.”

It was the best experience ever”

Fun Day 2019, July 13th, by Erika

We had the perfect conditions for the Club annual Fun Day: not too hot and not too cold, slight breeze and a pretty warm river. And this year even I managed to take part and left other mums to do the scoring.

Four teams of six were completing in Brian’s championship games and we all had an amazing time. Playing balloon murder, ferry relay, fill the cup game, basketball (on the water), tug of war (of course) jousting, all finished with a nappy swim.

Thank you Brian for running this fantastic and fun-filled event again this year, the kids (of every age) loved taking part.