I hate Waterside B, but like homework, it has to be done as part of the Series! The downstream leg is lovely. It’s fast with some interesting currents and doesn’t take too long to get to the turn. Why can’t it stop there?
The return leg is always bumpy, hard work against the stream, involves lots of running, and the water and portages are crowded with boats coming the other way.
It didn’t make this year any easier as I was suffering from the flu. Against the strongly expressed views of my wife, I decided to paddle anyway. “Nick, you are brave and intelligent to take this on, even though it will impact your recovery” was what I think I heard.
Anyway an impressive armada of ten C1’s embarked upon the 17.5 miles and 19 portages from Newbury to Aldermaston and back. Anthony Wilson was new to the start line in a recently acquired J203, as was Tom Fryer, Chris Hotchkiss and Pete Jones. Dave Whitby was ready to go in his prototype boat, and Tom and Lyndon in their Advantage’s. The only lady C1, Sue in The Darkness, Marcin in the high-kneeler, were yet to show.
The early starters had a pretty clear run to the turn at Aldermaston. There isn’t a lot of overtaking and the only race tactic is to paddle as fast as possible.
The Aldermaston luck cut to the turn was choppy and congested (nothing new there then). Going back, as the course re-joined the river, the last few days’ rain made progress against the current slow. I decided to portage the mile up to the lock, as did quite a few others.
Marcin in the high kneeler was on his way downstream followed by Sue. Later starting, they were to get the worst of the increasingly deteriorating weather.
From then on the head wind, plummeting temperatures and the incessant current, made for a challenging race and a dilemma of whether to paddle or run. I ran a few sections, especially the one to Bull Lock, keeping pace and eventually overhauling the winning C2.
Tom pretty much ran most of the way back, and it paid off because he just beat Marcin to first place by 32 seconds. Marcin must have suffered in the exposed high-knee position.
I was glad to finish, and the results were:
1. Tom Fryer – 2:49:57 (J203)
2. Marcin Ponomarenkow – 2:50:29 (High-kneeler)
3. Peter Jones – 3:15:20 (J203)
4. Nick Adnitt – 3:18:25 (The Darkness)
5. Chris Hotchkiss – 3:40:43 (J203)
6. Tom Barnard – 3:41:15 (Advantage)
7. David Whitby – 3:48:42 (prototype)
8. Lyndon White – 3:56:43 (Advantage)
9. Susan Digges la Touch – 4:30:46 (The Darkness)
10. Anthony Wilson – Retired (J203)
In the series, Tom closed the gap slightly on Marcin, and Pete cut my third place advantage to two minutes.
Hopefully I’ll be fully fit for C, and re-establish a better cushion.