Regatta, August 2019

Regatta, August 2019

It all started with perfect organisation, good weather and a fantastic group of people. Firstly…. to scare away fisherman and get all the participants and numerous kayaks, SUB’s and canoes over to the Hurst park bank. By 10 am we are split into three teams, Hampton, Westel and Molesey and the judges taking their positions on the bank.


Warm up exercises began with a little bit of May pole dancing with paddles, standing in a circle, paddles held in front of us vertically, we move stealthily left and right leaving the paddles in situ. Of course everyone was coordinated, worked as one and not a single paddle fell to the ground…honest!

Event one: team relay: get each team member from the start line to the judges stand point, turn the boat around and back to the start line to tag the next team member to go…..without paddles! 

A few capsizes, wonky manoeuvres and one team not finishing led us into the second event; get your team from point A to B as quickly as possible in a canoe. Two tactics available, do you make a few trips quickly or load everyone in your boat and hope you don’t sink? After a couple of submerged teams and sunken canoes a hasty finish ensued and with the re-floated canoes back on land it was a race to the finish line but one team found their canoe had been tied to another boat, an act of sabotage resulting in quick thinking – why waste time untying knots when you can just carry both boats and win.

Next fun with balls…. line up your kayaks side by side, each paddler has a tennis ball, player one has to throw their ball to their adjacent team mate who then throws their ball and the ball just thrown to them to the next team member until all nine balls end up with the last in the line who then has to throw them all back along the line so that each player has their ball back again by the end of the line, all while trying to stay afloat and not drift out of line and into passing rowers and ferry traffic. A crazy race followed where one tennis ball had to be passed to each player before crossing the finish line, I’m sure nobody would have cheated here!

To end the event a ball throwing frenzy from the judges left the three teams darting around collecting the balls from the water (and not a Labrador in sight when you need one)…the winner would be the team that collected the most balls, over 60 balls were counted in but how many were thrown out…. surely no one cheated here.

To round the day off back at the club house with boats dried and put away, not just a bbq but an amazing feast, all washed down with a compulsory slice of chocolate cake, good company and an amazing club.

Amanda Fisher

Doggy Paddle : July 14th, 2019

Doggy Paddle : July 14th, 2019

A number of the club headed up to Leamington Spa to do the Doggy Paddle in aid of the Guide Dogs for the Blind. An 18 mile paddle along a lovely stretch of river between Leamington Spa and Stratford Upon Avon. 

Brittany Holiday: June, 2019

Hampton Canoe Club in North Brittany June 2019

For decades, the club has been enjoying its summer holidays abroad, and in recent years our holidays have been in sea kayaks on the Mediterranean.  This was our first venture onto tidal waters, their currents and the ever-changing size of the beaches.

Our guide was Agnès of Planè, a friend of mine who has lots of local knowledge, a reassuring manner, excellent judgement of paddlers’ capabilities and – maybe as important – kayaks for hire.  About half of us paddled in boats we’d brought over on the ferry, the rest were Agnès’.  Several of the paddlers had significant sea kayaking expertise, and everyone had met minimum standards of skill and stamina.

We stayed in the pretty town of Lannion, which had a variety of restaurants and crèperies.  We started out the first evening with a briefing and supper with Agnès.  That set the pattern:  good food, good company and a different route to paddle each day, selected by Agnès each evening.   For the record, here’s where we actually went:

Jill, paddling with the group for the first time, recorded her impressions:

This was my first sea kayaking trip with the club. I have to say that two weeks before going I was wondering if I had made a terrible mistake. Amanda Maxine and Tamra all assured me that I would be OK. Before going I tried to paddle as much as possible to increase my stamina as I was sure it needed improvement, and by the time Amanda and I got the overnight Ferry I felt I needed a holiday and would have been happy never to see a kayak again.

We met up with the group after their first day paddling, and had the obligatory galette in the evening, one of many that week. We had a fairly early night in preparation for what I felt would be the ordeal ahead.


 How wrong could I be, I should have listened to the others. Tamra and I shared a double kayak and although I felt the first day challenging I was pleased with how we managed to keep up and I found I was enjoying the paddle. We went to the Sept Iles unfortunately it was misty but was still stunning. We saw seals, puffins, and on Bird Island hundreds of Gannets. I had been there before by boat but this was so much more enjoyable as in a kayak you can get so close to the wildlife. 14.3 miles that day, I am not sure I have done that distance before. My hard work before paid off as I was not as exhausted as I thought I would be.


All the days were very good with different scenery and different conditions. Lunch each day was great thanks to Tamra and John who did all the catering every day. I cannot believe how much I ate.


Our guide Agnes was so professional, she knew the area  well, was able to work out the tides and the winds and ensure that each day we had an enjoyable safe paddle. The tides can be very tricky in this area and she used them to our advantage. She made sure that Tamra and I were able to cope with the distance, the waves wind and tide. Each morning we had a briefing and at the end of the day a debrief.


The scenery was stunning the Rose granite coast is one of my favourite coast lines you could never be bored as the scenery changes constantly. The day I enjoyed the most was from Tregastel to Plouminarch it was the shortest paddle only 7 miles (may have been a factor in my decision) but it was my first experience of coping with waves which I loved as it made it more interesting.

I was a newcomer to this group, everyone made me feel very welcome the whole group looked after each other, I was never made to feel bad that the group may have to wait for me. I felt safe and supported I was given tips on my paddling technique which has helped. Agnes our group leader commented that we were a respectful group and she was right. It was a fun holiday, thanks to all who attended.


Maxine & Peter !

Maxine : summarises the trip and covers that roll!

When we stopped for lunch near the rock house at Le Gouffre we finally felt the sun strongly –  which means it’s good weather to try rolling. Maxine had agreed with Agnes that today she would try a ‘real’ roll – in a fully laden boat, in choppy ocean (and very few people knew about the agreement). On the way back from lunch Agnes gave Maxine the nod, near a rock [which wasn’t in the agreement] so that it would be even more real, and Maxine rolled and kept her glasses and hat. And it was all over before most people knew it had begun.

With only one and a bit days remaining, time was running out to see whether a double sea kayak could be rolled this year without any outside assistance. With Jonathan in place as safety boat, Maxine and Peter  decided that not only should they try to roll the double, they should try to do so with greenland paddles.  People looked up from packing up the boats to see how many attempts it would take … and it only took one…so Maxine and Peter quit while they were ahead. 

Saturday, Day 7 – Open crossing to, and around, Ile Tomé

On the first day Agnes told us that we would paddle between 9 and 13 miles, depending upon how we felt and how we paddled. We paddled the full 13 miles, which set the tone for the trip. By partway through the week we were ferry gliding across tide races to and from Ile de Brehat, and by the last day we caught a tide race back from Tome Island. We had pushed ourselves a bit and become comfortable in different environments. 

Cardboard Canoe Challenge : 2019

Cardboard Canoe Challenge : 2019

Another year another set of crazy cardboard creations. 

8 boats went out and amazingly all stayed afloat for a while ……

Annual Prize Giving 2019

Annual Prize Giving 2019

The annual celebration of club paddlers – fast, slow, wet, dry and more took place at the old Swan at Walton on 27th April. 

The list of prizes was as follows.

The list of prizes was as follows.Best newcomer : Jana – for organising lots of weekend paddles from the club

Best newcomer : Jana – for organising lots of weekend paddles from the club
Best Xmas lights – Robert & Lourette – for the K2 reindeer sleigh
Outstanding contribution – most challenging club job – Anne-Lise – for being rack manager and dealing with all the difficult stuff
Outstanding contribution – Dan Bownds – for organising many trips, canoe sessions and other skills training
Rupert magic carpenter – for restoring the club bench.
Kathy- for doing such a great job with the website.
Wildlife Warden of the Year: Derek, for going into the sea at the back of a Menorcan cave to rescue a sea bird
Travel Agent of the Year: Morten, for booking us into a sumptuous Danish mansion for our paddling weekend.
Amanda Gosport, “Best litter picker”, she managed to find a toilet in the river, and picked it up, yuk!
Jenny, “jelly babies Queen”. She always has a stash of jelly babies on hand on every trip.
Maxine Nelson, “club rock’. from a beginner to a level 1 coach and committee member – does so much for the club
Frank, materials science award for best cardboard boat 2018


Try a Tippier Boat Evening

Try a Tippier Boat Evening

A fun evening was had by all with 30 paddlers on or in the water, with more than half trying a boat less stable than the one they usually paddle!

Peter led the session aided by Maxine giving advice, encouragement and rescue help where needed.  There was some impressive paddling (and some impressive swimming). 

Tamra also organised a fab BBQ with head chef Adam. A lovely sociable end to the evening.

DW : We did it our way, April 2019

DW: We did it our way, April 2019

The DW race is well-known to you all (and our congratulations to Mike and Elly for an excellent perfomance).  It travels through a pleasant part of England, but racing isn’t our thing, so we decided to take a tour this Eastertime from Devizes back to our home in Teddington.

Our expedition benefited greatly from being able to buy Bernard and Ivy’s ultralightweight canoe just before we left.  We called it ‘Darbon’ and this was its inaugural voyage.  It came with a 50 litre dry bag and a 75 litre dry bag, both well-filled with sunoil, sunglasses, pogies, fleeces, cags, etc.  – this was an Eastertime trip.  Here’s our report.

Sunday 14 Apr: unloaded boat and luggage at Devizes Wharf.  Parked the Yeti as close as possible to the headquarters of Wiltshire Police.  8 miles, no portages to lunch at the café at Honey Street.  7 miles, no portages to Wooton Rivers.  Here we discovered we’d left the canoe wheels in the Yeti!  Portaged 400 metres north of Bridge 108 to The Royal Oak at Wooton Rivers, supper booked for 7 – 7:30, bed and breakfast.

Monday 15 Apr: 6 miles, tunnel, 13 locks to lunch at Great Bedwyn.  Walked into village, freshly-baked Cornish Pasties and Lardy cake from the village shop for lunch (best lunch of the trip).  3 miles and 6 portages to Froxfield.  150 metres north of Bridge 90, 150 metres west along the A4 to The Pelican Inn, Froxfield.  Supper included superb roast venison.  Bed and breakfast.

Tuesday 16 Apr: 3 miles and 4 portages to lunch in Hungerford.  Lovely café just 30 metres south of Bridge  84.  4 miles, 4 portages to Kintbury.   Supper, bed and breakfast at The Dundas Arms, Kintbury, right by Kintbury lock.

Wednesday 17 Apr:  6 miles, 7 portages to lunch in Newbury.  2 course set lunch at Cote Brasserie, about 50 metres north of Bridge 59.  4 miles, 5 portages to Thatcham.   Supper, bed and breakfast at The Swan, Thatcham, 200 metres north of Bridge 42.

Thursday 18 Apr:  5 miles, 5 portages to lunch at The Rowbarge at Woolhampton, beside the canal by Bridge 31.  One mile further, after Bridge 30, by prior arrangement, left Darbon at Froud’s Marina.  Half day.  Trudged half a mile along a busy road to The Hind’s Head, Aldermaston.  After supper, bed and breakfast, pleased to find a footpath across the fields to get back to the marina.

Good Friday 19 Apr:  6 miles, 7 portages and too many low bridges to lunch at The Cunning Man in Burghfield, before Bridge 14.  Table booked for 2 at noon.  4 miles and 3 portages to refreshment stop in Reading.  Then 5 miles and 3 locks to Wargrave.  Landed on a slipway, about 400 metres to The Bull on the High Street, for supper, bed and breakfast. 

Saturday 20 Apr:  7 miles, 2 locks to planned lunchstop at The Flower Pot at Aston, but we were feeling full of energy and pressed on.   9 miles, 3 locks to Cookham; we were through Marlow Lock 2 hours ahead of the DW race!  Stayed two nights at the Crown in Cookham to let both parts of the race pass us by.  On Sunday we enjoyed a pleasant walk across the fields to Boulter’s Lock, where we had an ice cream with our picnic, and strolled back to Cookham alongside the Thames and Cliveden Reach.

Easter Monday 22 Apr:  3 miles, 2 locks to Maidenhead:  lunch break evaded again.  11 miles, 4 locks to Old Windsor. Landed 200 metres upstream of the Bells of Ouzeley, so that was our lunch stop.  Bed and breakfast was 500 metres along the road at McMillans B&B in Old Windsor. 

Tuesday 23 Apr:  8 miles, 3 locks to lunch at Thames Court (Shepperton).  On to tea with Carole in Hampton (a welcome break mid way between Shepperton and Teddington).  Then on home.

Wed 24 Apr:  train from Hampton Wick via Clapham Junction to Salisbury, then a bus via Berwick St John, Shrewton and Market Lavington to Devizes.  Collected Yeti.  Drove home.

Paddlers and scribes:  Andrew Wallace and Norma Morris