Month: October 2022

World Canoe Marathon Championships 2022

Beth Gill (Chelmsford Canoe Club) with her gold world championship medal.

The World Marathon Championships 2022 looked set to be a major event, with athletes from around the world descending on the beautiful and historic town of Ponte De Lima to compete against the best of the best. British Canoeing’s own Chief Executive, Ashley Metcalfe, travelled out to watch the five days of racing to get a further flavour of marathon racing, especially from an international level, and our team, as well as the rest of the world, certainly put on a show for him!

The Para racing was billed as an exhibition event, and our British team came together from a variety of different disciplines and levels of experience to see how they would fare on the international canoe marathon stage. Para Team Manager, Tim Scott, said about the event: ‘It was emotional watching the 11.8k races, and a sense we were witnessing a historical development for para paddlers who have previously predominantly only had 200m as an outlet for flat water racing international competition …. the Para Marathon Worlds has the makings of a new home and new lease of life for para athletes, and a chance to include more.”

Hein Pretorius (Tonbridge Canoe Club) and Tim Lodge (Wey Kayak Club) collecting their gold and silver medals after their KL3 race.

There were two separate races – an open para race, run under marathon rules, where athletes could paddle any boat and all classifications started together. The other was an 11.8k race run under sprint rules, where the boats were required to be 12 kilograms, super stable and each para category has its own separate results. Tim Lodge (Wey Kayak Club), Jon White (Exeter Canoe Club), Shaun Cook (Norwich Canoe Club) and Hein Pretorius (Tonbridge Canoe Club) all left their hearts out on the course, and all won medals. Tim took gold in the KL3 Men, with Hein taking silver in the same category. Jon earned silver in the KL2 men’s and Shaun took bronze in the VL2 men’s race. In the earlier open event, Tim won silver and Jon won bronze. The takeaway for the para team, and para racing, was even more than those hard-fought medals – welcome though they were. It was about new friends, new possibilities, new inspirations and motivations and a new love for the sport. It was all hugely inspiring.

Jon White (Exeter Canoe Club) competing in the KL2 race.

Short Course Races

The athletes, supporters and spectators were treated to a spectacle of high drama and high performance in the short course races – a 3.2km course with beach portages in front of the grandstand and lots of tight turns. Team manager Jo Bates was grinning from ear to ear as the results came tumbling in; Beth Gill (Chelmsford Canoe Club) paddled a stunning and focused race to be crowned Senior Ladies C1 World Champion, making the most of pre-race favourite Babak making an error on the course. Beth demonstrated that she was one of the most consistent technical C1 paddler out on the course, allowing her to storm ahead from the rest of the field as she went clear to complete the race.

Beth Gill (Chelmsford Canoe Club) after crossing the line to take the world title in her short course race.

After taking the world title, Beth Gill said, “It was a good race. Babak definitely took me by surprise, especially with her experience, but I had replayed the race that many times in my head that I knew what I needed to do off each portage… I just trusted that really and [I’m] ecstatic… it’s really just credit to my training group in Nottingham, to Chelmsford Canoe Club with the support, particularly the Moules… but in particularly Dan Johnson and all the the hard work that he puts in to both myself and the group as a whole.”

Sam Rees-Clark (Nottingham Kayak Club) raced superbly well, showing every bit the World Class paddler she is, to take bronze in the Senior Ladies K1. Sam automatically qualified for the final after a dedicated heat saw her finish in sixth earlier in the day. An impressive first portage meant Sam joined the lead group in fourth as they led away, she was able to maintain this position and then better it after a strong demonstration of her skills on the second portage. She followed out of the second portage in third with only the small lap to go and maintained it until the finish line. A fantastic performance saw Rees-Clark match her bronze medal from the European Championships back in July.

James Russell (Chelmsford Canoe Club) found himself on the start line with the “who’s who” of the fastest men in the World, and he certainly earned his place on that role of honour. James paddled a superb race, never away from the sharp end and always threatening to take a medal. He eventually took 5th place, the highest place he’s managed in international senior races. The pace that Pimenta put down was staggering, he approached the Marathon as he would his 1,000m, pushing to dominate. He showed the world that canoe racing, be it 500m or marathon, has its foundations on hard work and there aren’t any short cuts to being this good. With Beth, Sam and James’s performances all so impressive (based on the “The Norm Plan” masterminded by Norman Mason for Nottingham Kayak Club), they showed the value of quality coaching and a positive culture towards the training that is needed to be successful.

Sam Rees-Clark (Nottingham Kayak Club) after collecting her bronze medal in the Senior Women’s K1 Short Course.

Long Course Races

Long course races took place throughout the four-day event for every age category (Junior, U23 and Senior) over a variety of different distances.

Greta Roeser (Wey Kayak Club) and Isla Bethune (Elmbridge Canoe Club) competing in Junior Girls K1.

The first race off on the Thursday morning was the Junior Girls K1. Greta Roeser (Wey Kayak Club) was fearless in her approach, challenging the two Hungarians and South African paddlers. Through she was missing out on raw speed in the opening 1,500m, Greta fought back to the leading boats, using the boat skills developed on the River Wey and finished 4th. Isla Bethune (Elmbridge Canoe Club) put into practice many of the skills her highly experienced and successful coach, Roland Lawler, had been working on with her. Isla moved well around the washes and finished 16th. In the Junior Boys K1, Sam Cribbett (Royal Leamington Spa Canoe Club) made his international marathon debut in a tough field. He had a good start, getting into the mix early on, and looking every bit a quality paddler. The race edged away from Sam lap by lap and a 24th finish doesn’t do justice to the maturity and conviction he showed throughout.

In the Junior Girls K2, Nerys Hall & Greta Roeser (Wey Kayak Club), a tried and tested team who secured bronze at the Marathon Euros were looking to build on that performance. Nerys & Greta didn’t disappoint, they pushed for a top position right from the start. However, the first turn was a little frantic for all the boats. Unfortunately the Swedish pair capsized, and the race judges felt Greta & Nerys were partially responsible. They finished their race in 5th but were disqualified due to the earlier incident. Isla Bethune (Elmbridge Canoe Club) & Mathilda Enoch (Nottingham Kayak Club) worked well throughout and showed some great spirit to stay with the pace in the first half of the race. They were still tantalisingly close to the front of the race for the remainder and finished 7th. Undoubtedly these four girls will be looking to build on this at next year World Championships in Denmark as they all have at least one year left of junior.

Dominic Stanley (Falcon Canoe Club) and Harry Freeland (Reading Canoe Club) running through the portage in their K2 race.

On Sunday morning, Harry Freeland (Reading Canoe Club) & Dominic Stanley (Falcon Canoe Club. took on the Junior Boys K2. A good start from the boys put them in the second group, where they were able take some recovery from the blistering start. However, it seemed the start and the high pace took its toll and the boys never fully recovered, finishing in 16th place. After their race, they said, “It was a tough race. We found the pace a lot different from the Euros. I think understanding the pace at the World Championships is only possible when you are on the water amongst them… it was very hard to judge when to put the power in and I think we may have tried maybe too hard to catch back up to the second at the start. It was a good race and I think we will learn from what we did for the future.”

Charlie Smith (Nottingham Canoe Club) in the front group of the U23 Men’s K1 Race.

The Under 23 men’s race was shaping up to be an exciting one after an incredibly tight race at Europeans, and the added names of Lovemore and Hart from South Africa. Our own Charlie Smith (Nottingham Kayak Club) was looking to build on his impressive silver medals in the 5,000m at under 23 Sprint Worlds a few weeks earlier, and at the European Marathon Championships back in July. The race started well for Charlie, paddling faultlessly in positioning his boat in the group. As ever, he was making it look easy but whilst on the surface things looked fine, Charlie wasn’t as comfortable as he appeared. After hitting a buoy on one of turns and having to reverse back, he slipped from the group. Luke Shaw (Norwich Canoe Club) showed real quality, racing hard throughout and holding his ground on the frighteningly quick turn of speed. Ultimately both Luke and his teammate Charlie finished 10th and 9th respectively. Although this was Charlie’s last year at U23, Luke still has another year to develop his racing to see whether he can better this performance.

In the under 23 Women, Anoushka Freeman (Richmond Canoe Club) battled strongly throughout. Her tenacity was evident, but it was the turn of speed which caught her out. Anoushka ended up finishing in 8th position. After the race, she said, “I got myself into a few collisions on the start and ultimately didn’t end up where I’d hoped, but eventually settled into a group and just tried to get my head down and pick people off one by one. I’m happy to have bettered my result from last year and have come away with lots to learn.”

Anoushka Freeman (Richmond Canoe Club) on the start line of the U23 Women’s K1.

In the Senior Women’s C1, Beth Gill again showed what being World Class really means, battling throughout, and coming away with bronze – not a bad weekend at the office for any athlete. The Chelmsford paddler, who currently trains in Nottingham, defended her bronze medal position throughout the race. Picking up the pace to extend the gap between herself and Ukraine’s Tsyhankova. Similarly, Sam Rees-Clark built on her short course result, demonstrating dominance in the Senior Women’s K1 field and taking the lead of the front group from the beginning. She was tactically excellent at the portage, always putting in with the front boat and this allowed her to break away with Kiszili from Hungary and Andersson from Sweden. A tough fight to the line secured Sam another bronze medal to add to her impressive, and growing, collection of international marathon medals. Sam said, “I was really happy with how it went. I was trying to be quite defensive at the start and hold my own… as soon as we saw an opportunity to break away as a three, I think we worked really well together to make that break and after that it was trying to see who can grab which medal…I have really enjoyed racing this weekend. It’s nice to race on a river with a bit more to it.”

Albert Hicks (Norwich Canoe Club) running hard through the portage.

Albert Hicks (Norwich Canoe Club), competing in the Senior Men’s K1, had been plagued by shoulder injury early in the season. His shoulder surgery was so recent that he was unable to load too much power and his training was still restricted in volume. Albert wasn’t able to match the initial speed of the race and so lost out to the first couple of groups but, in his very determined style kept pace, never losing faith that he was going to get back in contention, to finally finish 18th.

In the Senior Women’s K2, Sam Rees-Clark & Mathilda Enoch (Nottingham Kayak Club) paired up to give Mathilda exposure to a senior women’s field – and who better to paddle behind than one of the best female technicians of all time. If Charlie can make paddling in the group look easy, Sam has turned it into an art form, and no doubt Matilda will have grown in confidence from the experience after they finished 16th

Sam Rees-Clark and Mathilda Enoch (Nottingham Kayak Club) coming into the portage.

The last race of the weekend was the Senior Men K2. Charlie Smith & James Russell both showed their form within what was, without doubt, the best men’s race of the year – maybe ever – and showed why they are world class athletes. They challenged for the best positions in the group, fearless and certainly not intimidated by the big names of the sport. The race was fast with the lead stroke rate sitting at 96 strokes per minute 58 minutes into the race, and after 70 minutes, 11 boats were still within 15 seconds of each other. Unfortunately, on the last portage, Charlie and James’ rudder failed, and they had to fight their boat to the line to take 11th. On reflection they said, “…the race went really well. There were lots of fast boats out there and we managed it as best we could. Only probably 2 or 3 burns away to making it stick to the portage, but really happy with it in the end. We nearly got a top ten but the rudder fell out on the last portage so the short lap was a bit hectic trying to keep the boat in a straight line… overall I think a good starting point for next year where we will give it another crack.”

Charlie Smith (Nottingham Kayak Club) and James Russell (Chelmsford Canoe Club) leaving the portage in the Senior Men’s K2.

The World Marathon Championships showed the depth of talent in British racing at all levels. We were 7th in the medal table, and some amazing top ten positions must give British Canoeing’s newly appointed Chief Executive a great deal of optimism. A special thanks to Jo Bates (Team Manager), Pete Gorman (Deputy Team Manager), Tim Scott (Para Team Manager), Paul Dimmock and Dyson Pendle (Logistics Manager) who collectively ensured the British team was a coordinated force at the World Canoe Marathon Championships 2022.

After the final day of racing, Pete Gorman reflected on the event: “It has been a brilliant world championships. Some outstanding performances from GB athletes… everybody gave everything at every inch of the way. Tightest, hardest racing I have ever seen and I’ve been paddling for 57 years. I’ve never seen anything like this. I am in awe. There is still more to come from our younger paddlers. The learning curve is steep but the positivity within them is awesome.”

Finally, thanks for the work of Ivan Lawler. His commentary and insightful (and jovial comments) along with the spectacular drone coverage have been instrumental in transforming the sport. Racing is now far more engaging and the excitement on screen and live at the venue are all aided by Ivan and his co commentator’s injections of humour and drama.

Thank you to Paul Dimmock and Tim Scott for their help in constructing this write-up to reflect the teams achievement over the event.

Charles Hicks Challenge – Cancelled

Basingstoke Canal Canoe Club have regretfully made the decision to cancel the 2022 Charles Hicks Challenge. This is due to persistently low water levels and excessively high weed growth combined with the usual fall of leaves at this time of year. As a result, the BCCC committee felt they could not provide a route for the race that was safe, while still providing the right level of challenge and value. Refunds will be paid to those who have already entered, and BCCC hope and expect that the race will run again next autumn.

National Schools Canoe Championships 2022

The Marathon Racing Committee and Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race Organisation are proud to present details for the National Schools Canoe Championship 2022. Taking place at Hawley Lake on Sunday 20th November, this will be the first addition of the event with the Marathon Racing Committee’s support after many years of hard-work and success on the part of the DW organisation and Marsport Canoes.

All details and information on the revised qualification criteria can be found here. Entries must be submitted by Monday 14th November.

Any queries or questions can be directed through Holly Mobbs, the MRC Junior Development lead, or Gareth Scragg, the Junior Teams Liaison for Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race.

Hasler Finals 2022

Division 4 K2 startline

There was a hectic day of kayak racing on Sunday 25th September as more than 600 paddlers took to the River Thames at Runnymede Pleasure Grounds. For the first time ever, Wey Kayak Club and Addlestone Canoe Club paired up to joint host the event at a brand new location for canoe marathon. With the incredible support of Runnymede Council, Environmental Agency and Surrey County Council, the venue was ready for the final national event of the 2022/23 season.

The early morning sunshine was a welcome backdrop for the lowest-ranked classes taking to the water just after 9am. In several races the clashing of paddles and jostling for space left some in the water and out of the action until they could swim to the side, empty their boats and set off again. Tight racing the division 7 K1 saw Rachel Hampton, from Chelmsford Canoe Club, take the win just 2 seconds ahead of Delilah Webb from Wey Kayak Club. Similarly the division 8 K1 podium were all only 3 seconds apart, with Martha Roberts (Elmbridge Canoe Club) taking the top position.

Graham Warland presenting Honor Lewis with the Ross Warland Trophy

The division 4-6 races had the most dramatic portages of the day, with some of biggest fields all entering the pontoon get out at the same time. Honor Lewis (from Wey Kayak Club) took the win in the division 4 K1, as well as earning the Ross Warland Memorial Trophy. The Ross Warland Memorial Trophy is presented to the highest placed junior in division four at the Hasler Final every year and Honor is the first junior girl to ever win it.

Joe Petersen – the winner of Division 1 K1

Just after lunchtime, the fastest racers in the country set off for Old Windsor Lock, with smaller but even more-determined fields of paddlers lined up, decked out in their club colours. Completing over the standard 12-mile course, the division 1 race was won by Joe Petersen from Banbury & District Canoe Club, closely followed by Tom Lusty from Solihull Canoe Club. The division 1 K2 race was won by Keith Moule and Matthew Johnson from Chelmsford Canoe Club.

Geoff Sanders K2

It was also a personal highlight for the Marathon Racing Committee to see the younger (U14) paddlers being able to race in both K1 and K2 in the Geoff Sanders races. This is the first Hasler Finals to ever run a K2 race for that age group and clubs fully engaged with it as eleven crews started the race. It was won by Jessica Peters & Eira Shaw from Wey Kayak Club and the K1 GSA title was taken by Bjorn Bartsch-Cotta from Falcon Canoe Club. Overall, the winning club for the Geoff Sanders Trophy this season was Devizes Canoe Club with 1480 points.

Runnymede mayor Cllr Margaret Harnden joined in the afternoon to present a series of trophies, as well as the coveted Hasler Trophy. Elmbridge Canoe Club were crowned the winners (after an 11 year hiatus from holding the trophy), with Norwich Canoe Club and Wey Kayak Club also making the podium. 

Away from the racing, the day also had a focus on the environment and helping to keep the river and surrounding area clean. Recycling of food packaging, a water station and regular litter picks ensured the event left a minimal impact on the area. British Canoeing set up a Check, Clean, Dry stand to encourage cleaning of boats coming off the water to prevent the spread of non-native species, such as floating pennywort. Pippa Rowlandson, Wey Kayak Club’s environment lead, said that at least 50 boats were cleaned on the day. 

Thank you to Wey Kayak Club and Addlestone Canoe Club for putting on a great event and we look forward to returning to this new venue at some point in the future.

Congratulations to all trophy winners from the day:

  • Hasler Trophy – Elmbridge Canoe Club
  • Geoff Sanders Trophy – Devizes Canoe Club
  • Rhodes-White Trophy (presented to the fastest senior man K1 over 12-mile course) – Joe Petersen (Banbury)
  • Adam Thomasson Trophy (presented to the winner of the division 2 K1) – Dominic Stanley (Falcon)
  • Barber Trophy (present to the fastest junior K1 over the 12 mile course) – Dominic Stanley (Falcon)
  • David Shankland Trophy (presented to the fastest women’s K1 over the 12 mile course) – Lizzie Broughton (Richmond)
  • Ross Warland Memorial Trophy (presented to the highest placed junior in the division 4 K1 race) – Honor Lewis (Wey)
  • The Committee Cup (presented to the highest placed junior woman K1 in the highest division) – Isla Bethune (Elmbridge)
  • Ken Pereira Cup (presented to the highest places junior C1 in the highest division) – Owen Chisholm (Richmond)
  • Bill Sparks Trophy (presented to the highest placed veteran K2 in the highest division) – Colin Heard & David Parker (Exeter)

For full details of the results, please visit our race management site here.

If you, as a club or a group of clubs, are interested in finding out more about hosting a major event, contact our major event lead, Dan Seaford, here.

LBCC Remembrance Day Marathon

Please find details below of Leighton Buzzard Canoe Club’s 2022 Remembrance Day Marathon. This will be held on Sunday 13 November, starting at Great Linford Memorial Hall, Great Linford, Milton Keynes and finishing at Leighton Buzzard Canoe Club.