Sanabria K4 2023 Race Report

Sanabria K4 2023 Race Report

Sanabria K4 is an annual senior athlete development international trip where athletes compete in two K4 races in Spain against many international level crews. This years racing took place on Saturday 1st July and Sunday 2nd July. Below is a write-up of the trip including results.

This year Great Britain were looking to build upon previous years successes and the team brought both experience and youth to the weekend of racing in Spain. Ross McMullen (Elmbridge), Matt Enoch (Nottingham), George Durden (Elmbridge), Keith Moule (Chelmsford) and Elise Montagna (Royal), Becky Pemble (Addlestone), Maia Wallace–Loizou (Richmond), Becky Solway (Elmbridge) formed the line ups in the two GB boats.

British Airway flights leaving Heathrow made the perfect start, spirits were high and some great racing to look forward to. However, the team encountered it’s first challenge when at Madrid Airport all but one bag arrived. Then came the next challenge, the travel arrangements, saw all teams (Polish, Hungary, Ukraine, German and Czechia) on a coach trip reaching the hotel at 3am on the morning of the race.

This year the races were rearranged with Sanabria on the Saturday with Valladolid on the Sunday but with the same courses. Sanabria, as spectacular as ever, was the showdown for some great racing. However, another challenge, the GB men’s boat was damaged in transit so a frantic chase around to secure one of the club boats. Fortunately with 60 or 70 K4’s there racing in the domestic events, a quality boat was secured. Both the women’s and men’s crews put in great performances, each facing their respective battles around the lake to get 4th place with Spain dominating both events. Great Britain secured 3rd place overall, a good start to the campaign.

Thankfully on Sunday a relatively short 2 hour journey to Valladolid and the same international crews lined up to carry on the battle from yesterday, this time however we knew with Matt’s experience of working to the “Norm Plan” and as George said “we are used to spinning around tight turns at Hasler Races”, the much narrower course suited the GB team. Of special note was the Men’s great teamwork on the turns and big acceleration out of them, putting them 2nd to the Spanish until 400m from the finish, where Hungary and Czechia just out powered them, pushing them into 4th place. For the women’s team, Becky S was keen to push on and improve on the 4th place on the Saturday and drove a quality race again picking up distance on the turn but despite a committed effort from all 4 women, managed 5th place. Again all 8 athletes contributed 100%, helping push Great Britain into overall 3rd place behind Spain and Czechia, but encouragingly above Hungary and Germany in the overall results. The Marathon Racing Committee, it seems, is helping to lead the way to challenge the status quo of the usual dominant teams. 

As has become the norm, the hospitality of the Spanish Federation was excellent and an example to all nations of how to promote crew boat racing by keeping the ethos of high-level competition in an enjoyable environment. It was evident to all the GB paddlers when 100 plus Spanish K4’s are racing each day. from under 16’s to veterans, there’s every reason to suspect another Merchant, Alonso or Waltz is being developed.

A huge amount of thanks to the Women’s Team (Becky, Elise, Becky, Maia) and the Men’s Team (Matt, Ross, Keith and George) who all conducted themselves in a manner befitting of a quality international team, on and off the water.

Thank to Team Manager, Paul Dimmock, for writing this race report on the weekends events and for running such a slick operation while the team was away.