All posts by nikki

National Marathon Championships 2021

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.

K4 Race Day is back

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.

start of C1 race

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.

The return of sprints!

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. 

RCC Team at Shepperton, May 2021

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!!

Reading Hasler May 2021

The club was proud to put on the first hasler in the southern region since the start of the pandemic. We had 171 K1 and 26 K2 entries, with a phenomenal 43 boats entered for Div4. That was quite some start line and yet, miraculously, there were no swimmers.

Div 4 had 43 boats on the line

Brian did a magnificent job, adapting with extra Covid measures and making sure he had a team in place to carry it all out. Floating portaloos across the river on the pontoons – just part of the job!

We were delighted to have 47 Reading members racing that day. Our youngest members gained the most podium places – Alice B winning the U14 A K1 and Kathryn W coming 2nd, plus Conrad P winning U14 B race.

In Div 9 K1, all three top places went to RCC, Tyler, Isabelle and Olivier took 1st, 2nd and 3rd and gained promotions. In Div 8, Nick Wright (not a junior!) took 3rd and just missed out on promotion, in Div 7, Tilla came 2nd; in Div 6 Jacob W came 1st, earning promotion to Div 6. Annabel took 4th in Div 5 and Charlie 7th raced up in Div 4, gaining promotion to that division. Finally, Laurence Plant, another senior, took 4th in Div 3.

Annabel gets off to a flying start in Div5

A huge thank you again to Brian for doing a great job and all the volunteers. How great to be racing again.

RCC Junior Taster Sessions:

This year the club welcomed at least 90 children, aged 8 to 16, to our free half term taster sessions. And for once, it was non-stop sunshine. Brian and Seumas were are lead coaches, with the considerable support of a phenomenal team of enthusiastic junior coaches and our land-based helpers.

Our junior coaches demonstrated use of the paddle

Each of the nine sessions were split between marathon boats and slalom and judging by the happy faces (and very few tears), those children had an amazing time. The follow up from these sessions – with requests to join the U10s or the beginner courses – is also clear evidence that they certainly enjoyed their time sampling canoeing.

A huge thank you to all who helped at this event. More to come for Emmer Green in June and during the Children’s Festival in August.

The children were able to try out slalom boats and also the marathon boats

Litter pick up success

A big thank you from Sue and Jan (and the river) to all those who helped at the litter pick on Sunday 2nd May. You picked up seven large sacks of rubbish and a tyre.

The plan is to do it on the first Sunday of every month. The next will be 6th June, meet at the Club 2pm.

As Sue described:“A couple of years ago, I was walking my dog when a hedgehog blundered in front of us with a plastic cake wrapper over its eyes, nose and mouth. Thankfully, I was there to remove it and it went on its way.

By clearing our local part of the river, we are a part of the solution. “

Beginner Courses 2021

Covid restrictions permitting, we will be starting beginner courses in late April through to the end of summer, for both juniors and adults. Go to our Beginners page for more details, then click on the link and fill out a form to get your name on the list. As soon as a place becomes available, we will let you know.

Taster Sessions in May half term:

During half term, on 31st May, 1st June and 2nd June, we will also be holding Free beginner taster sessions for 9-16 year olds. Booking is essential. To book a place, go to the beginners page.

Covid 19 update, January 2021

Following clarification by British Canoeing of the headline Covid 19 restrictions and what it means for clubs, the club has no option but to close the clubhouse, boatshed and unfortunately the ability for members to launch from the site.

British Canoeing has received confirmation that paddling for exercise on the waterways is permitted and confirmed with Sport England that collecting personal equipment belonging to an individual, from a facility such as a boathouse, to enable individual exercise is permitted. However, under the new guidelines, all sports facilities must close. This includes the site. Club members that access their personal equipment should store it at home and launch only from a public space.

We know this is very disappointing, but these are unprecedented times.

Members can access the site to remove their boats and equipment by booking a slot on the access sheet over the coming week. However, after that we will limit access. If subsequently you need to recover equipment, please send a request to and we will arrange it.

British Canoeing published their latest Covid update yesterday with a reminder to paddle safely and to be fully prepared for winter conditions:

For any member experiencing financial difficulties due to Covid, please contact membership secretary, Sabine, directly on

Zoom Fitness sessions:

Don’t forget, Nigel and Sarah are still running fitness circuits and core exercises, Monday to Friday 5.30-6.30pm and on Saturday at 8.30am.

Zoom Invite:…

Zoom meeting code 947 1982 0964 and password RCC-Core

Thank you. Keep safe, keep fit and stay well.

Covid-19 update, December 22nd, 2020 – Independent paddling

Following clarification from British Canoeing on some points that are not 100% clear in the legislation, we are able to make a few small concessions to accessing the club during this time in Tier 4.

Firstly, we would like to thank the large number who have been understanding and supportive both publicly and behind the scenes in the last few days.  This was a very hard decision, taken in an incredibly short amount of time, with the best information that was available at the point we needed to make it. The Government has published multiple updates since our initial decision was made, some of them after the rules came into force. It has always been our priority to keep reviewing the guidance as it comes out over the last nine months, and we will continue to do so.

To the best of our knowledge, all clubs in Tier 4 areas took the same approach as we initially did, and some are not reviewing that. 

British Canoeing have now had enough clarification from Sport England to allow a very limited opening to the boatshed. They have made it clear that this is still an interim position, but they seem relatively confident in it.

Access to boatshed

The restrictions limit the number of people allowed in the boatshed. Given the layout and size of our boatshed, numbers allowed in at any one time will be limited to one pair (for those paddling with someone not of their household bubble) or one family or training group, up to a maximum of four people. Distancing must be maintained when in the boatshed. Due to this reduction in number allowed in the boatshed at any one time, we will be limiting site access numbers to 4 per 15 min launch window. If you can see or hear someone in the section of the boatshed you need to use, please wait until they finish before entering. The exception will be for K2s where the 2 paddlers may enter the same section but must stay a boat length apart while indoors.

U18s outdoor sessions

There is also a possibility of outdoor sessions for under 18s resuming. However, there are significant hurdles to achieve this. Due to these hurdles we have contacted coaches directly and those whose groups are able to operate within the restrictions will be in contact with their paddlers, with clear instructions. This is likely to take some time and highly likely not to involve all groups.

To clarify, the outdoor rules are very similar to November. You may paddle individually with one other person or in a family group. Access to the club is via the booking sheet. Depending on how the ‘one in, one out’ access to the boatshed goes, we may need to adjust either the length of the slots or the number of people allowed to book.

All indoor facilities including Toilets and Changing Rooms are out of bounds and you should not be changing in the boatshed. Please come ready to paddle and leave in the kit you paddled in. We appreciate this is unwelcome and may cause problems given the time of year, but it is the only way we can reopen the boatshed.

All members should be aware of the government guidelines surrounding travel into and out of Tier 4 areas, and the club encourages members to abide by these guidelines.

Main points distilled:

·      Book a site access to the club via the booking sheet – four per 15-min slot or one household

·      You may paddle individually, with one other person outside your household, or as a family group

·      Come ready changed and leave as you are – all inside changing areas, including the boatshed, are not to be used for changing

·      Only one pair or household/family within the boatshed at any one time

·      Toilets and all upstairs areas are out of bounds

·      Club boats may be used, K1 and K2

·      Please make sure you wipe down any areas you have touched and wash your hands frequently

·      Always keep 2 metres social distances in any areas while on the club site

·      If you come by car, please keep all your belongings within the car

·      If you must have a bag, please keep packed tidily in the boatshed for quick removal at the end

Many thanks for your patience and take care paddling. The river is on red and is likely to continue so for some time to come.