The Charles Hick Canal Challenge run by Basingstoke Canal Canoe Club will be held on Sunday 22nd November 2015. It is a 16.6 mile race with 2 portages, which is run as a time trial. It can be done as a relay by inexperienced crews. There is also the option of a 6 mile event to encourage beginners and inexperienced juniors to try winter time trials. Pre-entries only by Wednesday 18th November – no entry on the day.
Leighton Buzzard Canoe Club’s Remembrance Marathon is on Sunday 8th November 2015 on the Grand Union Canal. It is 15 miles and includes 4 portages. There will be 3 classes for each type of boat, based on paddler marathon division ranking.
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.
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.
Missing the pontoon and doing a beach portage, but still being with the lead boat at the other end of the portage!
The boys eventually lapped the girls… That’s Hafsa waiting to put her boat in! Around another lap and to the finish!
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.
Fred coming through the second portage. And leaving the second portage.
Finishing with Timmy, 2:57 behind the winner.
Well done Fred and Timmy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The next Southern Region Hasler race is at Longridge on Saturday 29th August. As well as the National Marathon Championships, there are a couple of other races of interest coming up…
Medway Marathon – Sunday 26 July 2015
A 17.5 mile race on the River Medway from Maidstone to Tonbridge, Kent. Organised by Tonbridge Canoe Club.
Richmond Hasler – Sunday 2nd August 2015
Within the London & South East racing region, so not a Hasler qualifier for Reading, but only an hour away from Reading.
The National Marathon Championships is being held by Norwich Canoe Club on 22nd & 23rd August 2015.
Reading paddlers please sign up on the sheet at the club by 18th August.
The MRC invites members of all racing canoe clubs to complete the consultation questionnaire which can be found on canoeracing.org.uk/marathon. It is felt by the MRC that this is an ideal opportunity for feedback on a controlled level.