10 Hamptoneers intend to do the 125 mile and 77 portage Devizes to Westminster race at Easter 2017. Barnet (3 * DW veteran) is organising the training schedule for the Hampton crew.
The ten paddlers are Barnet, Jenny, Maxine, Peter L and Derek who plan to do the 4 day race in K1’s and Tony and Richard paddling a C2 in the overnight straight through race. New members John and Dan are also planning to compete. (Barnet & partner paddled a C2 together 2 years ago and Tony paddled a K2 with Adam also 2 years ago, for the others this will be the first time!)
Before Xmas they are paddling the route from Wootton Bridge to the club and will also paddle the last leg down to Westminster. In the New Year they are planning to do the Waterside and Thameside races which also take place on parts of the course as further preparation for the race.
Check back here for updates on their training progress.
PIctures from the first training paddle on the Kennet and Avon canal, going through the Bruce tunnel and up the Crofton lock flight (there were a few extra paddlers on this trip along for the training experience!) This was a 12 mile trip up to Great Bedwyn and return so twice through the tunnel, 12 locks to portage in each direction!
Great Bedwyn to Thatcham
This was a one way trip of 17 miles with 25 locks to portage
Thatcham to Marsport (Reading)
6 Hamptoneers paddled the 17 miles through steady rain from Thatcham along the Kennet and Avon river/canal, through Reading and out onto the Thames to Marsport.
Houram and Pete were in the Mystere K2 and after an initial shake-down proved to be fast on the water and speedy with their portaging. I ( Phil) spent the day chasing the red boat and could catch and overtake them at a portage just to be overtaken back on the water.
Jenny had the new blue Hobby but the rudder was loose and steering difficult so she took the rudder off (big mistake) The kayak proved unsteerable with no directional stability so we put the rudder back on in the central position and she had to remember not to touch it, just to steer by paddling and edging. Barnet was in his light-weight blue Viper 51 and Derek also in his Viper.
There was one very awkward portage where you had to walk under a low bridge on a very muddy path and put back in from a bank of reeds into a strong stream. We all managed it without mishap (just)
It was a long wet day but very tranquil as we met not a single other boat of any description on the entire paddle. In the early afternoon the rain eased leaving just an ethereal mist drifting above the water. The locks were fairly evenly spaced at about one mile intervals so we soon got into a routine of paddling and portaging until we got into Reading where there were a few locks in town to negotiate with one very awkward and overgrown get-out and I narrowly avoided getting side swiped by the Mystere as it was lifted from the water!
Marsport to Marlow
Leaving Marsport in Reading
Coffee and cake in Marlow
6 Hamptoneers paddled from Marsport in Reading down the Thames to Marlow. Barnet went ahead with Houram and Jenny with a plan to meet up at Hambledon lock. When Peter and companion arrived in the shuttle car they then set off to try and catch the first bunch leaving me (Phil) as the tail end charlie. I occasionally made contact with Dan ahead of me but as it was a cold day everyone just wanted to keep paddling until we got to Marlow.
The day dawned cold and grey and only brightened up later in the morning when some blue skies appeared over Henley. The portage at Marsh lock was very tricky getting in at the end of the jetty below the weir where there was a long drop and fast flow, but luckily no mishaps. (this is not the standard portage route it should be noted!)
Henley was buzzing with rowers as usual but they mostly behaved themselves and managed to avoid mowing us kayakers down, though some shouting was required! At Hurley lock the portage is upstream from the lock which I managed to miss being drawn by a sign for a cafe which sadly was shut for the winter.
Marlow was a welcome sight in the sunshine and my coffee order was radioed ahead to the cafe contingent. We munched on the cakes I supplied for my late birthday celebrations before the drivers had to head off to collect cars and boats and people etc before heading back to the club.
16 miles down and only 30 more to the club – next week?