Banbury Canoe Club ran their Hasler event last Sunday so I thought I’d pop up and enter the Div 7 race in The Darkness.
The venue in the middle of Banbury is not really appropriate to run an event for several hundred paddlers, but with excellent organisation, Banbury Canoe Club pulled it off.
All the divisional races started one after another and the queue for the start was massive. So much so, that the other canal traffic was asked to wait until everyone had left.
The 23 entrants in the Div 7 class were split into two starts, odds and evens. Even so it was a squeeze to get 11 boats across the width of the canal. However, I had a cunning plan!
When the starter said go, I paddled 10 metres over the start line, got out, picked the boat up and ran like hell, scattering spectators like chickens in a farm yard. I got in front of the group and put back in. By the first portage, most of them had overtaken me, but I got out early and sprinted past 5 boats.
There were two kayaks in front of me and they were overtaking a narrow boat before a bridge. I sprinted like the devil and just squeezed past before getting crushed. There was no way the boaty was going to slow down.
The turn was in a narrow part of the canal, but instead of turning on the water with about one million sweep strokes, I went past the turn, got out, rotated the boat (hitting the turn Marshal on the legs……sorry mate) and got back in again. This time I maintained my position and headed back.
The narrow section under the bridges were very choppy, and I lost a bit of time. I also lost a couple of positions, but re-gained them at the portage.
I eventually finished 15th out of 23 but frustratingly, 60 seconds quicker and I would have been 5th.
We all look back and think what might have been, but it was good fun and that’s what it’s all about.
Lucy Perry from Falcon also paddled The Darkness in the Div 9 event. Unfortunately she decided to swim at the start so her 18th Position out of 23 could have been bettered. However, one more C1 Hasler and she will have qualified for the Hasler final leaving loads of time to qualify in a K1 too.
Anyway, I’m off to do some sprint training and I don’t mean on the water!