Barrow Series – Race One

There were lots of prizes for Mercia paddlers at the Barrow race today. Best performance goes to Erin, in the small kayaks, a good effort. Adam is going faster and Andy kept Laurence quiet for over 20 minutes! Aaron came in second junior wwr. These are short timed  races down a course which is set on a twisty loop of the River Soar. A cosy pub for a cup of tea and grub at the end, adds to the appeal.

Spot the Nottingham Paddler?


Mersey Descent Canoe Race. 14 October 2012

The race was blessed by rain in the days beforehand and a frost and sun on the day. This meant it was good to paddle and good to watch. The river was running fast but not so high as to make Northenden Weir a portage, so we were expecting the 1 hour barrier to be broken.

The weather attracted 32 paddlers for the race and 40 paddlers for the accompanying mini tour, from as far as Lincoln and Worcester. The latter is significant. The race had previously attracted local heroes, but this time a stranger rode into town. Well, not a stranger. Stuart also came to Cheshire in midsummer and slashed the record for the solo Cheshire Ring Race.

Now he and Dave Pedlar were attacking the Descent K2 record. And they succeeded, knocking off over 6 minutes. Afterwards Stuart said “Great race, really enjoyed it and will be recommending it to friends. I’m now intrigued to see what it is like at more normal water levels, maybe next year.”

There were also records broken in the K1, WW Racer and Touring Canoe classes.

We will be running the race and tour again in 13th October 2013, visit for details nearer the time.

The 9.2 mile section of the river used for the race has one sloping weir and a dozen rubble weirs, this is part of the 18 mile Mersey Canoe Trail which is open every day. Details can be found in the web.

Thanks to the competitors and everyone who helped. The hospitality of Burnage Rugby Club at the start and Trafford Metrovick Rugby Club at the end was very welcome.

The detail results are as follows.

Club                Time

K2       Racing double Kayak          

1st        Stuart West & David Pedlar                             Worcester        53m26s New record

2nd      Maggie Dilai & Jenny Illidge                           Runcorn           59m06s

3rd       Richard Millar & Laurence Garton             Nottingham KC     59m15s

4th        Adrian Fisher & Ned Price                               Macclesfield    61m 42s

5th        Gary Carter & Steve Gardner                           Lincoln                        62m 11s


K1       Racing single kayak              

1st        Jamie Mayers                                                   Runcorn            58m 25s New record

2nd        Jonathan O’Grady                                           Runcorn           61m 19s

3rd        Rod Steele                                                       Macclesfield    61m 40s

4th        Alastair Randall                                                           Liverpool         66m 37s

5th        Archie Miles                                                    Lincoln                        68m 23s

6th       John Mc Carrol                                                                                    95m 03s

7th        Sam Woolley (J)                                              Manchester      114m 44s

8th        Nicholas Woolley                                            Manchester      115m 00s


WWR  White water racing kayak      

1st        Michael Fitzsimons                                          Mercia             62m 48s New record

2nd        Richard Moss                                                   Manchester      69m 04s

3rd        Simon Gelder                                                   Chester                        74m 14s

4th        Jane Millar                                                 Nottingham KC      84m 48s

5th        Colin James                                                     Liverpool         86m 10s


Touring open canoe

1st        Colin Smith                                                                              77m 03s New record

2nd        Stewart Stobbs                                                                         90m 59s

3rd        Sean, Robbie & Joseph Jesson                                    Manchester      91m 17s

4th        Simon Nixon & Peter Rushworth                     Runcorn           96m 19s

5th        Joanna Sweet & Matthew Hailwood                Bolton              106m 01s

6th        Gareth Smith                                                    Bolton              113m 58s

Lincoln Race Report

Mercia paddlers achieved two second places at the Lincoln marathon race. A sunny clear day was ideal for racing. Several people uncertain which club we were from, asked about our new racing T shirts, a reproduction of the 1980’s club colours. New team paddler, Josh got promoted straight from Division 9 to 7 and was really pleased with the result over a four mile course. He even led at one stage near the finish. Adam continued his steady improvement and made a well earned promotion to Division 5 and a second place. The final points score put us in 5th place overall, our best Midlands result. The full race results are at

Deputy Racing Correspondent report

The Mercia racing squad was reduced to four paddlers at the Burton event in June. The river Trent was high, with a strong flow and some well defined currents to read and use. This proved the undoing of many and fell into the hands of the more experienced. Aaron and Adam struggled to make headway upstream to the turn and keep up their speed, both slipping back from promising starts. Having spent many years training through the winter floods on the Thames and then the Avon at Bath, I relied on reading the water rather than pace. As a result I found myself in the lead off the start, something not experienced for a while, and later settled in for a third place. Subsequently after times were calculated, promotion followed to Div 4. I now have to follow in the wash of faster boats including Mike (not racing at Burton) and Laurence (paddling K2 with Ricky from Nottingham). Plans are also being made for a go at Sprint racing. The next Nottingham regatta in July is the target and 500/200m timed runs have been done on the canal. We have also resurrected the old race colours.

Full results here.

Leamington Race

Or, notes from a reluctant Div 8 racer, part 3…

As a concession to Laurence’s incessant badgering, I agreed to do the Leamington canoe race. There were a number of positive aspects informing my decision: it was local, it wasn’t a wash-ridden canal, and I didn’t have any mountain biking planned for Sunday. What nobody bothered to explain to me until I had already committed is that the four miles are punctuated by an infeasibly large number of turns. And my turns are best described as “leisurely”. Tricked again!

My ancient asymmetrical paddles snapped the other evening during what I jokingly refer to as “training”. Many years of metal fatigue had finally taken their toll, and I was left clutching a very short single-bladed paddle in my left hand, and a quite long single-bladed paddle in my right hand. I managed to remain upright, but forward propulsion proved problematic. Having failed at the ‘J’ stroke, I settled on a technique that involved pushing myself along the canal bank with one hand, whilst using one of the blades with my other. This got me closer to the basin, until Adam returned in a Canadian to rescue me – once he’d stopped laughing.

But I digress. The demise of my own paddles means I’ve been trying to get to grips with the wing paddles that nearly everybody who races has been using for years. They are definitely more efficient, but I can’t yet sprint as fast with them as with my old paddles, and they aren’t as good for turning or support strokes. And every now and then, they fight back and try to pull me in – probably when I extend the stroke a little too far back. So all in all, I decided that Leamington wasn’t the place to make my debut winged appearance, and chose instead an old pair of paddles that had been languishing in the club for years.

Unlike previous races, where I set off slowly and got engulfed in wash, I decided to set off fast. Somewhat to my surprise, this meant I lead the race from the start until about half way, when the eventual winner overtook me at one of the numerous turns. I didn’t manage to negotiate any of the turns without resorting to a reverse sweep stroke, whereas she managed to get round fast using only forward strokes. And edging. I tried that on the next turn and only saved myself from falling in with a rapid and vigorous support stroke. With wing paddles I’d probably have swum.

I remained in second place until shortly before what turned out to be the end of the race. My heat-befuddled brain had lost count of the number of turns and was expecting more, so I was quite surprised to find myself sprinting against somebody trying to overtake me. It was all too much effort, so I slacked off and let her pass. Then came the bell, and it was all over. Still, 3rd place and a mug. The best result of my brief racing career! And I would just like to tell Adam that tea tastes especially fine when drunk from an RLSCC mug…

Full results are now available online. The other Mercia results were:

Div 9: David Darragh came first, and was promoted to Div 8.

Div 6: Adam Beaumont came 4th

Div 5: Nigel Wooltorton came 3rd

Div 4: Laurence Garton came 2nd, Mike Fitzsimons came 5th (after briefly being placed first by 5 minutes thanks to a timekeeping error!)

Quite a good points tally for the club. And what do points mean? More races, probably. D’oh!

Anker Valley Race

Having told everyone who would listen that I don’t do racing, it was with some surprise that I found myself driving towards Nuneaton with a couple of K1s on the roof of my car.

The journey was enlivened by Adam demanding to know what I would do if various unlikely emergencies arose, such as the car in front exploding or a pylon falling on the road. Luckily none of these things happened, and the only incident of real interest was a sighting of Nuneaton’s magnificent Mount Jud, which Aaron later spotted again during the race (I was too focussed on my paddling to admire the scenery, naturally).

And then there was the race…

In Div 9, David started to sink due to a hole in his boat and had to empty it, and barely made it afloat to the finish, where he arrived in 8th place, earning 16 points.

In Div 8, Aaron put in a strong performance after a slightly fraught start (the wash was worse than at Gailey!). He was keeping pace with a group of 3 or 4 other paddlers, while I trailed miserably behind. He has obviously learned from his slow turn at Gailey, because this time he gained rather than lost a couple of places. I’m sure that the fact that one of the other paddlers was swimming to the bank and getting in the way of everyone by the time I arrived was simply an unfortunate coincidence and completely unrelated to one of the other paddlers later calling him a “tactical git” (I think we may have found his club nickname!). Aaron came 4th (our best result of the day), earning 18 points for the club, and missing out on promotion to Div 7 by only 13 seconds.

As for me, I didn’t even get into a comfortable paddling rhythm until the return leg of the race, by which time it was too late to make up much distance – but I did spot an opportunity when I noticed that the paddler some way in front of me was nattering away to the crew in a C2, oblivious to the closing gap. I sneaked past on the opposite side of the C2 with perhaps 100 metres to go to the finish. At this point the C2 crew alerted her to my presence (spoilsports!) and she sprinted off in hot pursuit. Sadly, what would  have been a magnificent place-gain for me was spoiled somewhat when I clipped a narrow boat with my paddle (or perhaps she hit me, or both) and fell in 50 metres or so from the finish. I got back in to complete the race in last-but-one place. Still earned 15 points for the club though!

We watched Nigel (Div 5) and Adam (Div 6) start their races, and then returned to get out of the rain. As we walked back, the strains of the Oompa Loompa song played on cow bells could be heard emanating from some distant field. Nuneaton is a strange place.

In his first Div 6 race, Adam had to paddle 8 miles and do an entirely pretend portage, during which he managed to invert his boat! He came in 8th, earning 13 points.

In Div 5, Nigel came in 6th, earning 15 points.

The full results are now available online.



Gailey Race

Having done a deal with Laurence to compete in one race in return for him writing some articles about his and Mike’s forthcoming Devizes to Westminster race, I found myself beside the canal at Gailey Canoe Club, along with Adam, Aaron, Mike (in a spectating capacity!), Nigel W, Dave and Laurence, my hopes that the entire thing might have been an April Fool’s prank having been cruelly dashed.

Naturally, I made sure all my excuses were deployed early: I don’t race, I’m not competitive, I haven’t done any training, and I’m still recovering from the lurgy. Still, we need the points apparently. And points mean prizes. Or something. (Actually, points mostly seem to mean the chance to compete in still more races, but then I never really got the hang of this stuff).

As an odd numbered Div 9’er, I started my race alongside Aaron. For someone who used to complain about being bored well before bridge 2 on the Coventry Canal, his progress is remarkable. He caught up with me and moved into third place, and soon caught up and passed the girl in second place. I caught up with her too, but as I was attempting to pass, I had an unfortunate encounter with a paddler on the return leg and had to slow and veer away to try to avoid a collision (we got away with a glancing blow). That cost me some time.

Unfortunately, Aaron lost his position in the turn (more competitive turning practice needed?), and was unable to regain it. I caught up with him shortly before the end, and we were neck and neck, with Aaron just beating me to the finishing line to claim third place, a medal and a cream egg. Both our times were fast enough to earn promotion to Div 8. Dave came in 5th.

Adam failed to pace himself properly and won his Div 8 race far too convincingly, earning promotion to Div 6! Now he has to do 8 mile races!

Nigel W came 2nd in Div 5, and Laurence came 4th in Div 4.

The full race results are on Gailey Canoe Club’s website.