Highdown Beginner Courses

Our Highdown beginner courses are well underway, the first two completed, with a total of 16 students each course, and another one just started. They have learnt to paddle K1s, and also enjoyed trying out a K2 with their fellow classmates. One week, they had a try out of the slalom boats. Emily Neville, also a Highdown student, as well as a skilled and experienced slalom paddler, led the session. Thanks Emily.

Lead coach Jim New said what lively, fun and well-behaved groups they all have been – a pleasure to teach With lots of fun had on and in the water, we hope to see you all at the event on the 11th July.

If any student would like to know more about how to get into more paddling or join the club, just email


Highdown news May-June 2019

We’ve kicked off the main marathon, sprint and slalom racing season, already with some impressive results for Highdown paddlers.

First off, at the April Sprint Regatta held at the National Water Sports centre in Nottingham, very impressive racing led three Highdown paddlers to be selected to represent GB at the international regatta in Brandenberg in May half term – they were Freddie Kemp, Alex Tonkin and Sam Betts.

Freddie’s win at the April regatta in K4 (four-man boat) also meant his selection to the GB team for the European Junior Championships in July, held in the Czech Republic, as well as the World Junior Championships in August. This is a tremendous achievement.

All three boys are also in the midst of major academic exams – A Levels and GCSEs – so well done to all three for managing to juggle both your academic studies and your sport.

Marathon racing:
Closer to home we are already two marathon races into the 2019 season. The first was held by Basingstoke Canoe Club, the second by our own Reading Canoe Club. Sam Hill is racing really well in K1 currently and came 4th in his Division 5 race at Basingstoke and 2nd at Reading, earning himself a promotion to Division 4. James Nelson raced at Basingstoke in Division 8. A 2nd place meant his promotion to Division 7. Good racing, James. We look forward to more great results as the season progresses.

Slalom – the first competition of 2019:
In slalom, Emily and Natalie Neville took part at Winchester’s Slalom competition in mid May, taking 1st and 2nd in the Women’s open event. Big well done to them – that’s a terrific achievement. And also to Holly Williams who, after two clear runs, took 4th place in the junior girls.

Children’s Festival 2019

Every year, the Club puts on three days of Free Taster sessions for 9-16 year olds during the May half term week. It’s part of the annual Reading Children’s Festival and the Club is delighted to support it. It often helps to recruit a few more junior paddlers too.

This year we saw 63 children getting their first taste of canoeing over the 12 sessions. They were able to try out the lightnings, Canadian canoes, leaving the best until last – the Bell Boat with a jump over board at the end.

None of this could have happened without the support of coaches and meet-and-greet land-based helpers generously giving up their time. Many thanks to Keith Simpson (who also took all the bookings), Evan and Jo Shephard, Brian G, Mark King, Seumas, Hannah Sealey, Amber Owen, Rebecca Jennings, Becky Packer and Nicola Nelson.

Reading Hasler 26th May 2019

A great day’s racing at the Reading hasler this year. There were entries from 187 K1s and 48 K2s from 24 clubs, with 40 of those boats being Reading Canoe Club paddlers. Overall Reading fielded 11 podium places:

Div 2 K1 – 1st place to Edgar Boehm, 2nd to Jim N
Div 4 K1 – 1st to Finlay T, 3rd to Tom Hollins
Div 5 K1 – 2nd to Sam Hill, 3rd to Kat, both promoted to Div 4
Div 8 K1 – 1st to Charlie Beeson, promoted to Div 7, along with Miklos Jnr
Div 9 K1 – 2nd to Nick Wright
Div 10 K1 – 2nd to Tia Bajpai
Div 5 K2 – 3rd to Nigel and Erika (what a surprise!)
Div 6 K2 – 3rd to Stuart H and Nathan B

Putting the event on and making it run so smoothly was a great team effort, so thanks to all. Particularly big thanks to our main organiser Brian and all those hours he put in to making it happen. Also to the Shephards, Evan and Jo, on logistics and catering.

Masters’ Training Day held at RCC

Special training days and away camps feature frequently for our young paddlers, but this time it was a chance for slightly older ‘athletes’ to grab some attention.

Paddlers from Southampton, Devizes and Banbury were invited to join us for the RCC Master’s Training day, which offered team paddling, technical coaching and the promise of cake! First order of the day involved coffee whilst paddlers were given an overview of what to expect by lead coach Nigel Frankland.

Paddlers were then organised into teams of six with an equal combined Hasler ranking for a 5km team race against the clock, with the watch stopping once the last team boat crossed the line. This meant each team had to work at staying together on the wash. Teams could choose to paddle in any combination of K1s and K2s.

After a brief discussion on team performance a 6 x 200m relay race followed which set everyone up for lunch, which was kindly provided by Jo serving hot food, cake and more coffee. Lunch was more than just refuelling – paddlers had the opportunity to make new friends whilst Nigel held a discussion on what makes a good crew boat relative to the class it races in. Crews should be faster than the sum of their parts by taking into consideration stability, strength, technique, wash hanging and acceleration.

The afternoon provided an opportunity to put this theme into practice as K4s and K2s were taken out with some Masters experiencing their first K4. We were also joined in the afternoon by lead technical coach Andy Rawson. After a group presentation, he provided 1:1 critique in K1, giving paddlers an immediate gain in their performance.

We closed the day with a summary and paddlers left with new ideas to consider and actionable tips to put into practise.

Thank you to the coaches Nigel & Andy for their commitment to preparing the day’s events and their delivery on the day, plus Jo for providing a cooked meal for everyone.

WaterAid’s Annual Raft Race

The annual raft race in aid of WaterAid will be taking place just below the club on Thursday 4 July. The start will be between 6-6.15pm and the rafters take between 15 minutes to an hour to leave from the rowing club, go round Fry’s Island and return to the rowing club.

It’s quite a spectacle and joyfully noisy. If you do the 321 session at 6.30, you’re likely to see it all in action from the water.