Report from Waterside B

Newbury, 14 Feb 2016

Valentine’s day! What better way to spend it than on a muddy section of the Kennet and Avon Canal getting very cold?

Cambridge entered five K2s and one K1 into this year’s Waterside B race. At 17.5 miles and 19 portages, it is only 4 miles longer than waterside A but always much harder!

Paddlers tend to either love or hate Waterside B. It is an out and back race from Newbury, turning at Aldermaston wharf - meaning that half the distance is covered racing upstream. The river winds in and out of the canal, and results in lots of flow to battle against on the second half of the race. And there is guaranteed choppy water from the hundreds of boats going in both directions! It is more of a grind than a pleasant experience for most – cold weather, bumpy water, 19 portages, and paddling upstream – it’s not pretty!

Freddie (racing for Richmond) and Rodrigo again came second to the Chelmsford K2 in the men’s race, but despite the race being 4 miles longer, the gap between the two boats in time remained the same – showing the stamina and pacing ability of our crew. Lets hope they can claw back at them on the longer races to come. Also racing for Cambridge were Jake Elsegood and Thomas Cullen, who put in another solid performance in the men’s K2 race, finishing in the top half of the men’s field, 14th of 39 starters.

Rob Smith and Richard Stagg made a debut K2 in this year’s waterside series, and finishing in the top 10 of the veteran men’s K2 race. A good result given some of the class athletes racing in this field.

waterside B 1

Cambridge had two and a half crews entered in the mixed K2 race – a class which is growing in popularity and often sees many fast entries. Alice and Paul looked confident and strong on the water and finished looking remarkably fresh. They matched their waterside A 5th place positioning again, and finished in a very respectable time of 2hr 41. Oli and Ceri suffered with the cold on this race, uncomfortable in the bumpy water, however they managed to finish seventh (of 30 entries) one minute ahead of Dan Reynolds who was paddling with Anoushka Freeman, a junior lady from Marlborough school. Sensibly, Anoushka didn’t let Dan do the driving, and they made it back in a respectable 8th position with boat intact and still smiling!

waterside B 2

A special mention must go to Maria Worrall, the only Cambridge K1 entry in to this race who finished 8th in the Ladies race. She seemed un-phased by the cold or the distance – and is set to continue to improve on her performances in Waterside C and D.

Lent has started, the countdown to Easter has well and truly begun. The days are getting longer again, and we all hope that Spring is on its way – no excuses now not to get on the water, train, and more importantly race! Happy paddling everyone.


Photos by Guy Dresser (c) 2016