justathought

Just the thoughts of a girl.

A Hectic Sunday

Throughout the year, canoe clubs take it in turns to host canoe races, and yesterday was my club’s turn. I thought I’d better make an appearance for it considering I’m only one train stop away, and I’m so glad I did because I had a really good time! A few weeks ago, I’d arranged to paddle this race with Elena, a good friend who I’ve known for about 3 or 4 years now but for some reason have never paddled with before. So after one training session last week, a boat change (I MAY have accidentally taken the nose of a boat right off. Not a club boat, but a private boat. Not just a private boat, but a private boat that the owners were looking to sell. That’s a BIG whoops!  They were incredibly nice about it, although I seem to have gained a nick name of ‘boat wrecker’ since then!) and a quick hungover paddle on Saturday, we deemed ourselves practised enough to race.

 

This was only Elena’s first 8 mile race this year and her third ever, and I’ve been doing approximately zero amount of exercise at uni, so it was just meant to be a bit of fun to show our support for the club. We weren’t expecting to do well. But then the word “GO!” was shouted and what with all the adrenaline, we found ourselves being the first boat off the line. WE WERE WINNING!!!

 

(Photo by Clayton Jones)

 

The whole race was a battle between the first three boats in the picture above and all of us tried every tactic we knew. I cut inside one of the boats on the turn, but then they knocked my paddle when we got back in after running around a lock. The other boat got a bit too close to us so we clashed paddles, but then we cut inside them on a bend and sprinted past. It was a really good, tactical race which is the kind I like best. There’s no fun in plodding along for eight miles on your own, I would much rather have the bashing and the clashing that goes with a race like this!

 

 

(Photo by Clayton Jones)

 

Our race is slightly different to the usual canoe races that are held by other clubs as it’s on a canal rather than a river. This means it’s much narrower, which means huge waves when you have a large number of people on it at one time! It also means there are more locks to run past – there has to be at least one in an eight mile race, but this had six! All in all, this means it’s not necessarily about how fast you are on the water, but how quickly you can get away from everyone else (and all the choppy water!), how stable you are and how quickly you can run with your boat. Thankfully, having been training on this canal for a number of years now, we’re both used to all these things. However, the last 2 miles or so doesn’t have a lock in it and we were both completely pooped by this point, so the two boats got away from us in the end. We were still a good two minutes in front of the next crews though, which was completely unexpected!

 

(Photo by Clayton Jones)

 

I usually don’t enjoy our home race at all as it’s a bit of a long eight miles (more like nine!) and because I know the course it just seems to take forever for it to be over! Having said that, I really did enjoy it this year as it was a good competitive race with lots of argy bargy. One of the things I love about the canoeing world is that what happens on the water stays on the water – after all of that tactical racing, I got a hug from a member of one of the other boats (I have known her since I was about nine and she does go to the same club as me, but it still counts!) and the members of the boat that won searched us out to say how well we’d paddled and what a good race it was. No hard feelings and everyone had enjoyed themselves.

The very best bit about our club’s race though, is the cake stall. I think canoeists must have good baking genes, as the cakes at races are always delicious. 50p isn’t a bad price either, but if you wait around long enough until most of the competitors have gone home and then put on an ‘I’m a poor uni student who barely has money to eat ANYthing and I’ve just done a really hard 8 mile race’ look, one of the mums behind the stall is bound to send you off with a nice parcel full of scrummy home made cakes.

Definitely worth coming home for!

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1 Comment

  1. The post is very interesting. Thank you for writing it up.

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