Category Archives: News

Walk the Plank and River Tales

A call came in recently for ‘proficient kayakers’ to support the inaugural Reading on Thames festival which was to take place on the Thames in front of Caversham Court/ the promenade on Saturday 16th September. It sounded intriguing, especially when they mentioned there may be fireworks and pyrotechnics involved. As the weekend approached a strange array of giant floating creatures appeared at the club along with a vast number of crew and technicians. Our interest was spiked further! A diverse team of seven club members aged between 14 and 60 responded to the call and arrived at the first rehearsal feeling rather nervous at what was expected of them. We were briefed to ‘act and move like fish’ whilst paddling behind the professional kayakers, (who by the way were going to have fireworks strapped to their boats), and just follow the large fish until we saw the monster fish. At that point we were to ‘MOVE BACK SWIFTLY and go to the side, out of the way…….GULP!

So on we went, and followed the fish, up and down, around and around, in the dark for two evenings in a row. We couldn’t see each other, (let alone be seen by people on the river bank) but we had fun. One thing we were sure of from our viewpoint on the water – the story and show were going to be spectacular as long as it all went all right on the night.

Saturday came and to the delight of the three juniors Sam, Lili and Phoebe we were handed costumes – workmen safety suits in white or blue to wear OVER our lifejackets etc. (Where did Michelin men come in the story we wondered, but at least we would be incognito). We were also given white lights to illuminate the boats inside – the white plastic boats looked a lot like glow worms or perhaps like the shimmering fish we were supposed to represent. And at least we could now see each other! We were also handed safety goggles as we slid into the water … to add to our already somewhat ‘special’ look. Well, we were paddling behind fireworks!

We sat under Caversham bridge waiting for the story to start, admiring the giant swan lit up, which let off giant sparkler style fireworks from its bottom as it glided up the river. Then it was our turn as the giant fish potted up to greet the swan and we shimmered and wiggled behind it. We circled and paddled to the music, amongst the smoke, under the pops and cracks of the fireworks coming out of the fish’s nose and from the back of the pyrotechnic kayakers in front of us. Then the green glowing monster appeared and we took our cue to scarper to the side where we had the best view in the house of the fireworks, pyrotechnics and giant animals … and so the story was over. It was fun – a visual and auditory delight.

We hope it comes back again!

Annual Picnic Paddle

The wettest picnic paddle for years but being hardy RCC members no one was put off. It was nice to have some new faces join us, including baby Peter who at only 6 months old was certainly the youngest.

For the annual picnic paddle we rest our racing boats and use Canadian canoes instead.

The boats were towed upstream to Pangbourne by Brian and Marc at the crack of dawn, navigating the lock meaning we had an easy paddle back down stream to the club with some fun and games along the way.

Due to the weather we had a shorter lunch break than usual. The cows came to investigate who these wet bedraggled people were and why they were sitting in the field eating their lunch in the rain.

As we were already wet through we skipped the usual ‘sink a boat by filling it with children’ and standing on Nigel’s shoulders to jump in the river games. Brian did not get a post lunch nap and I do not think anyone even had an ice cream this year BUT we did set a new record for the fastest picnic paddle. We set off at 11 a.m and the first boat was back at 2.15 p.m.

It was wet but it was still a good day out with lots of fun and laughter. Thanks to Nigel for arranging, Brian and Marc for transporting the boats and to everyone who came despite the weather and helped make it fun. Oh, did I mention it rained!

By Phoebe Harbridge-Hui

Taster Sessions during Reading Children’s Festival, May 29th -31st

The club provided 12 taster sessions over three days as part of this year’s Reading Children’s Festival. The Festival is a programme of activities around the town over half term. 72 children attended the taster sessions, learning the basics about paddling K1 kayaks and the fun of paddling a bell boat. As a result several children have indicated they would like to try out the under-10 fun sessions and the Junior beginner courses.

Thank you to all our volunteers who helped over the three days.

Jolly Japes with Reading Canoers

‘There’s nothing half so much worth doing as messing about in boats’, so said Water Rat in Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows – set nearby on the Thames.

For novices at Reading Canoe Club it can seem a little far away this ‘messing about’, as you are encouraged to join time trials and circuit training, core focus and rowing machine sessions to carefully calibrated rock music.

The offer of a ‘Gentle Social Paddle’ with a pub lunch sounds just the ticket to adjust the balance.

As usual for RCC the proceedings started at the crack of dawn. We were ordered to be at the club by 9 for drill with our paddle and life saver.

Milling about

A friendly and expectant crowd milled around at the corner of The Warren where the club is located. Boats were loaded, lifts were arranged, satnavs coordinated. Suddenly the trailer rushed off – to deliver the boats to the start point and then to be parked by the finish at Abingdon. Several minutes later a very handsome canoe was brought to the road for loading. O dear! Too late! Back to the shed! I didn’t realise at the time this was ‘my’ boat.

North of Oxford the Thames is split into several streams and one of these near Wolvercote is our start point. One of the first to arrive spotted kingfishers flitting around the water by the bridge.

It was here I learned that, because a boat had been left behind, three of us would be allocated to a boat with two seats.

One of my co-canoers was desperate to get going – maybe to claim one of the two seats, so I felt obliged to join him. We floated around on the water, quite comfortably while others threatened us from the bank.

Bombing the beginner

When Nigel was ready we floated off, pushing hard on the paddles. These Canadian canoes are steered by the person sitting at the rear. Me, I sat in front and just kept at it. I never saw what my steersman (or rather, steerswoman) did, but I could detect a little critical banter between our midshipman, perched on a pile of life vests in the middle of the boat, and the boss in the back. Eventually we got rid of the dissenter when he climbed over to another boat with three seats.

Continue reading Jolly Japes with Reading Canoers

Thameside 2 – Update 2

As with T1 we have had unprecedented demand for Thameside 2. Due to the concerns of the impact this will have on facilities at the start and end of the course, we have closed entries for Thameside 2.

It is fantastic that we have such high interest (almost double some previous years with over 350 seats!) but need to manage congestion in order to avoid any potential negative impact on permission to run the event in the future.

You are still able to log in to the site to check details and complete payment.

We currently have 93 on the slow K2 start, therefore currently considering options

Start

  • If your payment has been received you will now be able to access your race number
  • Parking: Please use the Rivermead Leisure Centre car park and take the short walk across the field to check-in
  • Competitor food will be given out when you check-in

Finish

  • Parking is tight, so please can share as much as possible
  • Regrettably there will be no hot food on sale at the finish, only teas and coffees.
  • Results will be updated regularly
Course Assessment

Thameside 2 is challenging 18 mile course with 8 portages. Although we take every possible action to minimise risk to paddlers, it is critical that paddlers, coaches and parents assess whether they are able to complete the course safely.

We assess the course on four key measures; flow, temperature, visibility and wind speed.

We then ask paddlers to assess their own competence against experience, paddling ability, equipment and support.

The competencies source needs to be higher than the course score.

Assessment on 9-March

The forecast is currently good, with no additional rain expected. However, the river is on a mix of yellow boards rising / yellow board decreasing. Therefore the expected course score is 6.

At this point no additional safety measures will be applied. However, all boats should be fit for purpose and fitted with sufficient buoyancy. Buoyancy aids are recommended for all paddlers and compulsory for anyone under 16.

Final course inspection is scheduled for Saturday 11-March.

Thameside 2 – Update 1

As with previous years entry is online, however this year entry is only online. You will NOT be able to enter or pay on the day!

You can enter online & pay* until 14:00 the day before the race

Thameside 2 – Reading to Marlow 12 Mar-2017
Early bird entry close Friday 10-Mar 12:00 (Junior £11 per seat, Adult £13 per seat)
Last entry Saturday 11-Mar 14:00 (Junior £15 per seat, Adult £17 per seat)

* Only online payment can be received on Saturday before the race. If you are posting a cheque it needs to arrive at the latest Friday 10th.

Thameside 1 – Final Results

Well Thameside 1 (final results) done and dusted for another year! A big THANK YOU to everyone who helped out, it was a complete team event which was great given the crazy number of entries.

At the start of the week there were 110 seats entered, almost bang on average. At the point we closed entries we had 307 seats, with a couple of groups and a few disappointed individuals who missed the cut off..

Whatever the size of an event RCC strive to make it the best so that paddlers want to do it again and our neighbours are happy for us to share their space each year.  For this to continue we need the following…

  • Enough resource to run things smoothly – thanks to all
  • People to park sensibly and legally – most got it right, the rest need to try harder.  
    • It is disappointing that we had to assign half our staff to marshall parking!
    • Remember – you are the public face of our sport.
  • Flexibility in the schedule to accommodate higher volumes – hence the extended start window to spread out paddlers
  • Paddlers to finish within the designated window – 22 boats finished too early today, the first by 22 minutes.  We were kind and only gave you a time penalty not DSQ
  • Continual process improvements
    • Southern region number boards
    • The new check in approach – less queues, easier for all

Looking forward to seeing you all at Thameside 2 on 12 Mar.  As always feedback welcomed

Entries for T2 will open on Tuesday (28-Feb).