Life after DW

So that’s it then, all over for another year, it’s going to take that long for me to recover! I wanted to blog earlier, but I felt so “flat” after the race. A huge weight lifted when Megan and Isobel appeared at the top of the steps at Westminster and my shoulders ached for two days as the tension started to ease, and I wasn’t even paddling!

During my London marathon running days, I’d often warned people to be prepared for the massive “down” one feels after achieving a goal, after so much training and preparation. I should have heeded my own advice.

I look back to September last year when I posted a “wanted” request on a web forum for lady C1 paddlers, to today, several weeks after three female C1 canoeists crossed the finish line at Westminster for the first time, two of them in The Darkness, and I realise how far we have come and what those women achieved. They made history and no-one can take that away.

During the floods earlier this year, I was concerned that the race may be cancelled and all our hard work would be to nought. And then Waterside A was cancelled which put at risk the much-needed portage practice and familiarisation for Megan. Then Isobel couldn’t get released from work and it was all down to Megan to complete (and win) the Waterside Series, although Isobel thankfully did make it for Waterside D which was important for her confidence.

I think back to my over exuberant bank supporting, just trying too hard to be helpful. I cringe when I remember when Megan got out at Crofton, after the tunnel on Waterside C. For some reason I picked up her paddle and she stood there with the boat looking at me. “What?” I said. “I need the paddle!”. “Oh yeah, you do don’t you”. What on earth did I think I was going to do with it?

The Waterside win was a bonus. Our objective was for the first women simply to complete it, but Megan had other ideas! Isobel’s second place on WS D was also gratifying as they are the only women to have completed that race.

I left it to the last minute to get the bespoke spray decks designed and manufactured by Marsport, who responded brilliantly.

Then the start was delayed due to the body in the canal. Even though it was almost a carnival atmosphere on the Devizes wharf in the warm spring sunshine, I was pacing like an expectant father!

But apart from a few minor issues, the whole event couldn’t have gone better. Megan and Isobel had fun and completed the race in fine style. So, what was there to worry about? (not that I was for one minute).

It was the first time I had bank supported and I now have a healthy respect for those people who fulfil this vital task. I’m not sure how useful my exploits on the bike were, but I rather think it was for my benefit than the girls. I would have found it very difficult to wait at each support point and then react to the needs of the paddler. With real-time monitoring on the bike, I was able to keep the Bank Support up-to-date and also warn of any requirements before they reached the portage. I also lost 3kgs in weight, so it was good training.

So what now? I’ve got the boats back and am planning to get as many people to have a go as possible and hopefully, win a few sales.

There’s no escaping the requirement for high-kneeling as that is the ultimate goal for a C1 paddler, so I’ve started to look at configuring The Darkness for this most challenging method of propulsion. I know it has potential as Ross and Craig have both paddled it high-kneeling and found it “very stable”. However, this is on a high-kneeling scale of stability!

Unfortunately, there seems very little help and advice on how to get started.

Therefore, I will continue this blog and document my exploits into high kneeling and promoting The Darkness as a commercial venture.

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