Sunday March 3rd witnessed the last of our three ‘Waterside Kayak Races’ in preparation for this year’s Devizes to Westminster competitors. Cranleigh fielded 10 K2s (double kayaks) this weekend for a very tough, energy-sapping 23 mile race along the Avon-Kennet canal starting at Pewsey Wharf in Wiltshire and finishing at Newbury, Berkshire.
The daunting challenge this year was deepened by the fierce cold on the day (the night had been -8C) which left much solid ice on the water. This additional factor necessitated longer runs than usual at the portage areas (where competitors run carrying their boats around obstacles such as locks). The race also featured going through the memorable and unlit Bruce Tunnel – 500 yards of near-darkness to negotiate – as well as getting through and around ‘The Crofton Flight’: a challenging series of ten close-to locks.
Cranleigh’s racers all finished the course with Nick Kelly and Ed Roberts just pipping Oli Parker and Seb Haddock (with less than 2 minutes difference) to lead the way home for our boys, while Imara Gluning & Rachel Lubbock came first again in our girls (the fastest girls’ school pair in the race in fact) – their third race win in succession. The whole team showed enormous determination and gritty, steely spirit in another training step on the way to their target challenge: the Devizes-Westminster 4 day international race at Easter.