National School Canoe Championships 2022

National School Canoe Championships 2022

Senior category start their marathon race after lunch

In a new endeavour for the 2022 season and onwards, the Marathon Racing Committee has been working closely with the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race Organisation to support and continue to facilitate school racing and development opportunities.

Reinstated as an annual event in 2013, the National School Canoe Championship’s objective is to encourage grassroots paddling, and better preparation and development of school teams in paddlesport. It has been well entered ever since by a range of schools, including Kimbolton School, Bryanston School, Lord Wandsworth College and Heathside School.

Novice category start their marathon event

In 2022, the criteria for entry was reviewed with a focus on schools playing an active part and commitment to supporting paddlesport within their schools. All schools are required to demonstrate paddlesport is part of their co-curriculum/sport offering. We therefore had eight different schools entering crews for a busy day of racing at Hawley Lake on Sunday 20th November.

The morning involved a series of “500m” and “200m” sprint races for both the Senior and Novice categories. In the Senior 500m final, Jago Taylor and Dominic Walker (Norwich School) finished first ahead of Jack Ockenden and Charlie Fane from Bryanston School. In the Novice 500m final, Oscar Brownfield and Ted Umbers just pipped Charlie East and Dan Corfield (both from Lord Wandsworth College) by a matter of miliseconds.

Jago and Dominic from Norwich School after winning the senior marathon and sprint events

The 200m event takes the format of a knockout, where crews are eliminated in groups until the last remained five boats go head to head in the final. In the Senior race, Jago Taylor and Dominic Walker (Norwich School) again took the win after a tough fight against Imogen Hunter and Theo Sales from Hills Road Sixth Form College. In the Novice category, Freddie Cullen and Oliver Groslin (Lord Wandsworth College) won by over five seconds.

After lunch, the crews took to the water to compete in the marathon event. The senior category completed five laps of the lake with four portages, whereas the novice category completed four laps with three portages. After the start, the senior race broke down to a lead group of three crews: Jago Taylor/Dominic Walker (Norwich School), Imogen Hunter/Theo Sales (Hills Road Sixth Form College) and Jack Ockenden/Charlie Fane (Bryanston School). After a couple of laps, Jago and Dominic made a break to take the win just over a minute ahead of Imogen and Theo in second.

In the Novice race, a dominate performance from Charlie Simon and Tom Shepherd (Lord Wandsworth College) saw them lead the race off the start and complete the course by the themselves to take the win. Isabel Davis and Alex Gherabi (Kimbolton School) took the ladies novice win.

Lord Wandsworth College crews at the portage on the novice marathon race

It was really positive to see, in both the senior and novice categories, that most crews were finishing within a ten minute window after the winner of the race. Close racing was the theme of the day throughout and crews were able to race hard no matter their position in the field.

Overall, Kimbolton School took the win in the Senior Team Trophy and Lord Wandsworth College took the Novice Team Trophy.

After taking the win, Jon Sweet, Kimbolton School team leader, said, “We always enjoy coming to this event. It’s a great introduction to racing for our new paddlers as well as giving the more experienced ones something to aim for. We are very happy to have retained the team trophy and are looking forward to [the 2023 season].”

The Kimbolton Canoeing Captain, Noah, also said, “Despite an especially competitive year, strong performances throughout helped the team prevail, winning the team marathon event for the second year running, after having not won it since 1999. We hope to continue this good form going into our Waterside series of races and… [Devizes to Westminster]… next year.”

Next years National School Canoe Championships will take place at Hawley Lake on Sunday 19th November 2023.