We actually got a new boat earlier than expected. I was building a boat for a customer to a new build spec of just two layers of carbon fibre. We’ve already made one of these but we’re looking to go lighter by using less resin.
Just before I went to collect the boat from the boat builder, I received a call saying he thought it was “a bit flimsy”. This is not unusual when the resin is still “green” but he proposed a plan to add some uni-directional carbon fibre cross bracing. As the boat was already joined, it would have to be as an addition.
Anyway, he added strips throughout the length and I don’t think is looks too bad.
It’s certainly increased the stiffness.
It took John and I all of Saturday to fit the boat out with footrests and seats. We transferred the seats from our previous boat as we’d got used to them. So on Sunday we set off for the Frank Luzmore race with a “virgin” boat.
The race started at Elmbridge Canoe Club and finished at Richmond Canoe Club, a distance of 20 kms (about 12.5 miles) and included three portages over rollers. The last time John and I paddled this route was on the DW last year.
Elmbridge Canoe Club is not a great venue for a start list of 168 crews, and they could do with some lessons from the Waterside Series who have developed a schedule of staggered starts to reduce the peak surge of vehicles and paddlers. There was some quite aggressive driving by the local “Chelsea tractor” brigade.
Access to the water was limited, and it took ages for all the crews to become water-borne and it rained……….a lot!
The canoes were the last to start and there was an impressive line-up of eighteen boats. John and I had never done a mass C2 start before, but we slotted in on a crowded line. It all kicked-off at the gun and paddlers looked for some clean water to dig in. We bumped into a number of boats and were almost turned at one point.
However, when it sorted itself out, we were in fifth place. We held the gap up to the first portage but we had caught a group of K2s who appeared to have no sense of urgency at the get out. Anyway we managed to squeeze past only to encounter a K2 crew who had put in, but were attaching spay decks. A quick word managed to “persuade” them to shift.
We lost a fair bit of time on the front four boats and were caught by Richard and Sharon who we’d managed to drop earlier. As we paddled on towards Moseley, we could hear the shouts of “hut” diminish as we opened the gap again.
We were overtaking lots of K2s but were once again handicapped at the Moseley portage. However we only have ourselves to blame for getting the put-in wrong. By the time we got going, Richard and Sharon had once again caught us.
The next section was the six mile stretch to Teddington. We dug in and worked to maintain our position but failed to notice Lisa and Andy Trunks starting to overhaul us. They were not calling the switch so we didn’t hear them. Not that it would have made much difference because they gradually inched past us and we could only admire their paddling efficiency.
We portaged Teddington ok and even got in at the same time as Lisa and Andy. Unfortunately the tide was out and there was very little flow. But they sensed we were cooked and opened up a 40 second gap before the finish.
We finished in sixth place in 1:51:48 and were satisfied with our performance but disappointed we lost so much time on the first two portages.
The organisation at Richmond was even worse than Elmbridge. A single place to get out and no parking. So we paddled back upstream to our transport. It was a shame we could not compare notes with the others in our race.
The results were:
An emphatic win for Tom and James (no surprises there), and looking at the times, some close finishes.
It was great to see so many C2s on the start and certainly raised our profile.