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.