Basingstoke Canal Canoe Club – Charles Hicks challenge

Paddled the 16.6 mile Basingstoke canoe time trial today. I did this last year and recorded a time of 3 hours 21 minutes.

The event was a time trail, so individual effort against the clock. It was the same course as last year and some of the competitors paddled again this year.

2013 – 19 single kayas and 1 single canoe (me)
2014 – 16 single kayaks and 3 single canoes

The event was very well organised with good pre-race information and loads of marshals.

This year, the weather was appalling, it rained non-stop the whole race.

Negative factors:

• I’m a year older
• It rained non-stop and I got soaked.
• My kit got very heavy due to the rain
• I had to use a full spray deck which caused some delay at the portages
• There were a lot of leaves on the water which built up on the bow and had to be periodically shaken off

Positive factors:

• I have another year’s experience
• I know the course

I was the second boat off and had “clean” water for nearly the whole distance, although the autumn leaves on the water’s surface were very irritating, it was like paddling in soup in some parts! Luckily I had my “weed deflector” (bent bit of coat hanger wire) on the bow so I didn’t suffer half as much as some. A lot of crews had some good resistance training.

Full spray deck

Full spray deck


Due to the rain, I used a full spray deck which delayed me at the portages a bit, but reduced the amount of water in the boat.

My pace was strong and sustained and I reached the turn 3 minutes quicker than last year. I had an energy gel and started on the return leg.

It was nice to see the other crews coming towards me and everyone was in good spirits despite the rain.

I portages the lock and had my last energy gel. Still no one was in sight and I was only passed by one K1 about a mile before the finish, and one K2 caught me just before the line.

The table below shows the solo boats which paddled both in 2013 and 2014. It can be seen that all but two recorded a slower time than last year. This would be expected due to the poor conditions compared with 2013.

All these paddlers are local club athletes, so know the course well.

Name 2013 2014 Delta Boat
Joe Hansell (BAS) 02:18:48 02:20:39 +00:01:51 Single kayak
Ben Hansell (BAS) 02:18:55 02:20:46 +00:01:51 Single kayak
James Freemantle (BAS) 02:19:51 02:25:00 +00:05:09 Single kayak
Richard Somerset (BAS) 02:44:07 02:55:15 +00:11:08 Single kayak
Harry Veness (BAS) 03:01:03 03:00:43 -00:00:20 Single kayak
Fraser Kennedy (BAS) 03:31:18 Retired Single kayak

Nick Adnitt (IND) 03:21:05 03:08:46 -00:12:19 Single canoe

Harry Veness was 20 seconds quicker but I was a colossal 12 minutes 19 seconds faster!

It would be expected that competitors would be slower due to the poor conditions and you can see that the top kayak paddlers were nearly 2 minutes slower. This makes my time improvement even more remarkable and I was an average of 45 seconds per mile quicker over 16.6 miles.

There was no super-human surge of energy, but a sustained and consistent improvement in efficiency over the duration of the effort.

Onward to the Ross Warland 20 mile challenge at Banbury on Sunday.

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