The youthful Nigel, one of our longest-standing coaches, turned 60 last year, during the pandemic, so the party that had been carefully planned had to be rapidly shelved. However, it wasn’t forgotten and over just a year, plus two months, we sprung him a big surprise.
Nigel isn’t one for surprises, but he dealt with it well considering. At least it was better that the planned rescue session he thought he was running – a ruse to get him down to the club on a Saturday afternoon.
Erika, Brian and the troop of helpers had planned some crazy silly team games on the water – Death Match, Tug of War, canoe relay, race circuits, charioteers … they packed those games in, sank a few boats and laughed their way through. All rewarded with a slap-up barbecue and lots of birthday cakes.
Nigel was presented with the latest Garmin watch and heart rate monitor as a present from all at the club – he’d been eyeing it up for a while.
Happy Birthday Nigel. Sorry for the surprise, but we hope you enjoyed your party nonetheless!
First it was to be the 2020 Championships, but we know what put pay to that. But July 2021 loomed and the Nationals team held tight, kept a steady course … and without the slightest wobble, put on an amazing National Marathon Championships on 10th and 11th July.
From the outside, it looked like a walk in the park, but hours of careful preparation since January had gone into the project. The pandemic, of course, meant there was yet another layer of complexity to the event.
Despite Covid, 52 clubs from all the country, including Scotland and Wales, entered the competition, with 385 K1 entries and 213 K2s. There was some great racing and some really exciting finishes. Biggest race of all was the Mixed K2 race, of course. 75 entries in total – that was one mad start! Biggest K1 race was the U16 boys, with 38 entries. Another super choppy start.
Best of all, however, was that Reading Canoe Club was the overall winner in number of points, winning the Spanish House Trophy, plus we won the Spanish Galleon Trophy for U12s. All together we received 20 promotions, eight 2nd places, eight 3rd places and four National Champions – Ruth Shephard, Harry Freeland in K2, Brian, of course, for O69M and Josh Drummond in U10 K2. Full individual results
Well done to everyone who paddled and a big thank you to all our volunteers. So good to be back racing again.
Covid restrictions in place, all spectators banished to the prom side, our first of two K4 race days took place on 27th June. How lovely to have a taste of normality again.
There was a high demand for boats – with 38 entries in total from nine clubs, and a record number of 7 in Race A, the fastest group. Well done Reading for drumming up 13 great crews. All paddlers raced with gusto. It was a great day.
Huge thanks to Brian, as ever, who put all the leg work in, supported by an enthusiastic team of volunteers. Special thanks to Nik T stuck out on the safety boat all morning, rain or shine.
Nottingham June Sprint Regatta, by team leader, Erika H
After almost two years of no sprint racing, 17 paddlers travelled to Nottingham on 5th June to participate in the first sprint races of the season. Conditions couldn’t have been any better: the sun was shining, wind was minimal and everyone was hugely excited about racing again.
Out of our 17 paddlers, 7 of them were taking part in sprints for the first time ever and achieved amazing results. All those Zoom sessions during the lockdowns, the dedication and hard work really paid off and 11 of our paddlers achieved promotions.
Congratulations to Georgia, Annabel, Catherine, Charlie, James, Miklós, Harry, Cormac, Finlay, John and Laurence on their promotions, and well done to the whole team for great racing and all their team support through the weekend.
On the weekend of 29th/30th of May, a large group of Reading Slalom paddlers headed to Shepperton for the first competition of the year. Having at least one competitor in every category, Reading paddlers dominated the course and came out with great success!
At first glance of the storming river levels, many of our knees began to shake at the extreme water, the first whitewater experience for many of our paddlers – lots were expecting a swim. With paddles held high, every single paddler got on the water and challenged the course head on, with no swims (except Peter upholding his tradition of a Shepperton swim on a practice run), all Reading paddlers did themselves and all the coaches very proud.
Fueled by Liz’s infamous banana bread, Charlotte Fulford reached a win in division 4 and gained a promotion to div3, closely followed by Tia in second place; the girls did an amazing job! For divison 4 men, Rish powered round the course and earned himself 3rd place and received a t-shirt for fastest junior! In division 3, Lisa Fowler turned on her turbo powers and achieved a win in division 3, hot on her tail were Zoe Neville in 3rd and Isabelle Fulford in 4th! On the boys side, George Murphy came 8th followed by Marc Gutteridge in 11th and Peter Skinner in 12th – all finishing their runs with dry hair; a miracle by Marc’s standards! Competing for his first time in England, Ele entered both C1 and K1 events, and with the only disadvantage of snapping his paddle on the start line, he managed to storm around the course achieving great times!
A similar outcome on Sunday, with many away for the Hasler, Reading was down in numbers but no lack in enthusiasm and competitiveness was shown. Coming 5th, 11th and 14th; George, Peter and Marc all produced amazing runs – the only exception being Marc enjoying the water from underneath it!! Lisa Fowler produced an equally amazing time and despite being the only person in her category, managed to come away with a large amount of points and even more prizes! In the Men’s ‘open’ category, Ele reached 5th place closely followed by Andy Neville in 6th. Finishing the day on a high, Ele won a £50 voucher from the competition sponsors Peak UK.
So so so proud of all our paddlers this weekend and couldn’t be more excited to have a large group dominating competitions. Well done to everyone and many thanks to all those who helped with coaching and guiding the younger ones and all parents who came to cheer on the paddlers. Great weekend with great weather; a great success!!