Sunday saw the start of this year’s Devizes to Westminster race squad build up to the main event at Easter. Conditions were perfect; a light, following breeze, mild temperatures and a little bit of sunshine peeping through from time to time. An early start at Great Bedwyn (about 13 miles west of Newbury) saw all crews away in a timely manner.

The first races are an opportunity for the crews to experience the course and for their support crews to practice their skills of navigation, parking, feeding and watering. With a few minor detours, everyone made it to Newbury by late morning.

The paddlers put in some great times, with the crew of Hugo Fortescue and Fred Norton setting a new school record of 2:7:12 and were the third fastest schools crew.

Katherine Plewman and Charlie Andrews just missed setting a new girls record with a time of 2:45:14, closely followed by Oscar Stew and Freddie Hamilton with a credible 2:48:08 despite a swim at one of the locks.