On Sunday 27th January the Kayak Squad members were up early to travel to Chelmsford to take part in one of the Essex Series Winter Races.
For most of the crews this was their first experience of competitive paddling and the conditions were particularly challenging; high winds, flood conditions, standing waves of icy water and a 4 knot flow to paddle against for half of the race. The starts for each category were very difficult and many crews capsized early on. In the open Canadian C2 class, Matt Cantelo and James Rutledge recovered well after an early dunking woke them up and they battled hard to finish 9th in a time of 61 minutes against strong opposition (the race was won by an adult international crew).
Our top competitors in the longer, K2 kayak class were once again Sophie Murrison and Richard Branch, in 5th place with a time of 1hr14mins – they were also the 2nd mixed crew to finish. Zack Tabor and Ed Bourne also fought back from an early bath to finish 8th, whilst Anran Chen and Jordan Scott stayed upright throughout, were a very creditable 9th place and had the pride of being the first ladies crew.
Our other 3 crews were retired at various stages in the race, after a total of 12 capsizes between them. It was a day of hugely challenging experiences for all the participants, with much credit due to all of the paddlers for toughing it out in such conditions.
The parents who had come to support were very impressed by the RHS spirit and resilience. The old men – coaches Thompson and Menday – also competed in the open Canadian class and were pleased to record a time of 57 minutes to finish 5th!