After the relatively gentle warm up of the Hare and Hounds races at our home venue – the Wey Kayak Club – the Waterside Series marks a step up towards the four day Devizes to Westminster race over Easter. The races, a challenge in their own right, cover much of the same water as the DW and offer valuable experience to the crews and their supporters alike. Race A was over a fairly gentle 13 ½ miles of the Kennet and Avon Canal, taking in 21 portages and some wonderful, gentle, English scenery.

Things kicked off from Great Bedwyn from eight o’clock onwards, necessitating a fairly bracing start from Cranleigh, with alarms set for a rather reluctant five o’clock. However, a great atmosphere at the start and some welcome winter sun sparkling on the snowdrops, soon put everyone (with the possible exception of those poor souls who took an unscheduled dip) into a good mood.

All the Cranleigh crews paddled valiantly and began to realise the importance of slick portaging round the locks and the need for clear communication with other boats. Parents and other supporters developed a much clearer idea of their role at Easter with the finish, in the centre of Newbury, providing its own set of logistical learning opportunities for some crews.

The excellent finishing times, between 2hrs:22 and 2hrs:37, showed real promise and the event proved to be a valuable experience for all parties involved. Many thanks to all the Cranleigh crews, and supporters, for their enthusiasm and willingness to make this such a fun and positive day out.