A number of Banbury crews took on the Everest of kayaking – the Devizes to Westminster race. Sadly, the winner this year was the weather. As the water levels rose and rose, and conditions deteriorated, the organisers had to make the incredibly difficult decision to shorten the race, and finish it at Dreadnought Reach – just outside Reading. This meant the paddlers could complete the canal section – still around 55 miles, and 55 portages, but not have to take on the Thames that was in full flow and on red boards throughout.
The race is split into the 4 day stages competition – for singles, or the junior and junior/vet doubles – and the straight-through option for the senior doubles. There is also the non-competitive Endeavour class, for senior doubles over the 4 day course.
Three singles set off on Friday, and all three completed the course well, despite the relentless rain and mud they had to contend with. Sadly, Robyn W was unable to start again the following day due to ill-health, but Bob P and Terry P both went on the complete this year’s challenge. Our Endeavour class crew – husband and wife, Caroline and Dave P were also able to finish both days.
The straight-through crews found their last-minute plans thrown up in the air, whilst the organisers did their best to keep the race going. Suddenly, all crews had to leave Devizes by midday, or they could defer their entry to next year. All 3 Banbury crews decided to go for it, and all three finished. Chris J and Derek S posted the quickest time of the trio, with Annelies F and Lorna R not too far behind, and finished 4th in the Ladies Class. Paul S and Malcolm G also finished well, and managed to raise over £300 for SSAFA in the process.
Huge congratulations to all our paddlers, and no doubt they’ll be back next year to complete the race.