The National Schools Championships Regatta took place on a chilly November Sunday at the Wokingham Waterside Centre in Reading. Jointly organised and run by the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race, Marsport and Canoe England, the objective is to encourage grass roots School Canoe Clubs and inter-Schools competition but for established canoeing schools like the Royal Hospital School it is also good preparation for the ultimate canoe marathon, Devizes to Westminster.
The seasonal temperatures did not cool the enthusiasm of the crews which saw a range of abilities from novice through to experienced racing paddlers. The morning session saw a sprint competition over 500M and 200M distances, with some close racing in the respective groups but the afternoon session was the main event of the day.
This was a 20KM Marathon Race comprising four laps on Dreadnought Reach, each lap including the “DW Compulsory Portage” at the Waterside Centre. A close start saw an early pack break away including the Royal Hospital School crews of Cameron Kerr/Edward Bourne and Will Hassall/Edward Hunkin. Into the second lap, Kerr/Bourne broke away to finish in second place with a time of 2 hours 18 minutes. There was also strong performance from Zack Tabor and Alex Crawford-Ewart who finished 5th with 2 hours 21 minutes and Will Hassall and Adam Hunkin who were placed 6th with 2 hours 25 minutes. This resulted in the Royal Hospital School securing the overall Team Trophy.
Gareth Scragg, Junior Teams Liaison Officer for the DW Organising Team said “There was great enthusiasm from all the crews participating in the Regatta, some excellent racing and very positive feedback from coaches and teams.”
Lee Menday and Les Thompson, Canoeing/Kayaking Coaches at the Royal Hospital School is clearly delighted with these results; “The paddlers rose to the challenge and maintained the high standards they had set themselves last Easter in the Devizes to Westminster Marathon. RHS has firmly established its reputation as the top school for marathon canoeing/kayaking and reflects the hard work and dedication of our students towards this sport.”