Paddlers from as far as Germany and Majorca took to the Oxford canal at Cropredy on Sunday. The race, hosted by Banbury and District Canoe Club, is run in memory of Ross Warland, a keen paddler who died of bone cancer aged 21. The paddlers tackle the 20 mile course from Cropredy to Aynho and return, with the options of doing the full 20 miles in a K1 or K2, or as part of a relay team.
Overall winners were the senior K2 crew of GB paddler and Devizes to Westminster winner, Billy Butler (Falcon Oxford) racing with Jonathan O’Grady (Runcorn). The K2 relay option was won by a senior male crew from Lincoln ahead of a junior four from Norwich CC, who also had the winning mixed relay team. The K1 relay was won by husband and wife, Dan and Elena Golder, paddling for Banbury and Falcon respectively, despite having relocated to Wales. Having spent many years as the Banbury coach, Dan has recently been appointed Performance Manager for Canoe Wales.
However, the performances of the day came from the Banbury juniors, with the older ones dominating the K1 class. Joe Petersen won, breaking the junior record in 2.43 and was followed home by teammates Shaun Harte and Will McCracken in 2nd and 3rd places. The club’s younger juniors continue to show they are a force for the future, with U15s Lance Sunga and John-Carlo Dimaculangan completing the course in a K2 and U14s Jessie Urquhart, Harry Critchfield and William Pepper all managing the full 20 miles in K1s, and becoming the youngest people to do so.
Another local first was a crew from Sibford School, who took part in the mixed relay, having been training at Banbury and District Canoe Club as part of their PE GCSE. Despite a very limited number of sessions in racing boats they finished strongly, coming 4th in their class.