An early start on a cold morning at Devizes, with a persistent head wind all the way to Newbury. The general consensus amongst the paddlers, was they just wanted to get on with it.
I signed on, collected my number and glanced out of the window to see Pete Jones paddling to the start. Pete had just beaten my times on B and C and was only 20 seconds adrift of my current series third place. I thought that would be the last I saw of him before the finish.
I had paddled the Basingstoke Canal Canoe Club six mile Hare & Hounds the day before, to try out my new paddle design. The paddle was great, but I had really struggled in the washes with my high seat, so had lowered it for today.
Zipped into a full length spray deck to combat the cold, and armed with The Compromise paddle, I set off about eight minutes behind Pete. I had fixed my weed deflector on the bow and was glad I did.
The paddle design was another step forward. A smaller surface area than the last one, and a bit easier to pull against.
I completed the first 15 mile pound to Wootten Rivers in 2 hours 46 minutes. My bank support had fed me along the way and Sid (the Honey Street swan) had left me alone. I even managed the whole pound without needing to stretch my legs.
I ditched the spray deck before running the first and third sections, and switched on my light ready for the tunnel. After the last time, the tunnel was a doddle. No boats near me, so I didn’t lose any time.
I ran the entire length of Croftons passing many K2s who elected to paddle each pound. (I also ran the first Froxfield lock.)
I met my bank support at Great Bedwyn to be told that I was catching Pete which surprised me, but spurred me on. I spotted him as I approached Hungerford, but the gap hardly seemed to close. At the same time, Keith and Lizzie came screaming by, wish I could get on their wash!
As we approached Kintbury, I knew I could catch him. His boat was meandering erratically across the canal, and his head was down. Again this spurred me on and I caught him at last. We had a brief chat and I was ready to dig in to the finish.
I glanced round at each portage to check his progress and it was some time before I stretched the gap.
Tom Fryer decided not to start, as did Sue, but it was still a record seven C1s to finish the race and the series. I beat my best time by 35 minutes and Pete by 10 minutes, ending up in second place.
The results were:
1 Marcin Ponomarenkow 5:56:50
2 Nick Adnitt 6:43:41
3 Peter Jones 6:53:40
4 Chris Hotchkiss 7:37:53
5 Tom Barnard 7:48:57
6 Lyndon White 7:57:00
7 David Whitby 7:57:25
And in the Series:
1 Marcin Ponomarenkow 14:43:21
2 Nick Adnitt 16:57:33
3 Peter Jones 17:07:53
4 Chris Hotchkiss 18:51:42
5 Tom Barnard 19:17:03
6 David Whitby 19:48:50
7 Lyndon White 20:13:08
I’m not doing DW this year as I sort of set my expectations on the new C2. Sadly this is still some months off.