Now all the DW nonsense is over and done with, I need to get some more exposure for the boat. What better way than to race a few Haslar events.
So last weekend, Sunday 8th June, the sun was shining so I popped up to Falcon rowing and canoe club in Oxford for their event.
I am a Div six kayak paddler, so I thought I would have to race Div six for canoe too. However, this turns out not to be the case. Apparently one can be classified differently for the two types of craft. I wish I had known that earlier as the Div nine to seven classes had raced in the morning.
No problem, all I have to do is race Div 6 and get demoted.
During the warm up I paddled down to the portage to check it out. The water was really choppy due to the breeze, paddlers, rowers and motor craft and I felt compelled to J stroke a couple of times rather than risk a switch.
The lead up to the start was very well organised and the twenty three boats were “walked” up to the start by a Marshal. I expected to get dropped early so I held back a bit, but by the time we set off, I was in line and gunning it.
There was a lot of wash and one kayak capsized, but the adrenalin blew away any of my concerns about stability and I just dug in. I then realised that the kayaks weren’t speeding off in to the distance and that spurred me on.
The top turn took a few paddle strokes to get The Darkness to come round and the downstream leg was much faster and bumpier. I saw two more kayaks emptying out and realised that I was actually catching a back marker.
By the portage I’d caught him and worked my socks off to drop him by the turn.
Whilst I was bringing the boat round at the bottom turn, a lady Marshal commented “isn’t it usually a woman in that boat?” Not today!
It was a bit twisty coming back upstream, but I finished in one hour twenty minutes. This was thirteen minutes behind the winner and nine minutes after the fifth paddler, who was also promoted to Div five.
There was one kayak nearly three minutes behind me who had the D? by his name, plus two which retired. Does that mean I am now “stuck” in Div six for canoe and kayak?
I really enjoyed the well organised event, and a number of people were kind enough to comment on the boat. I even got one of the Banbury high-kneelers to have a quick go in The Darkness.
I have now sold my Jaguar K1 on Ebay, so I’m now committed to The Darkness. I may paddle it as a kayak in the next race. However, if I can get demoted in the canoe class, I could paddle canoe Div seven in the morning and kayak Div six in the afternoon.
I wonder if that’s permissible, I’ll have to ask a grown-up.