Over the weekend of 15/16 September a team of 12 juniors and 4 staff travelled down to Libourne to compete in the French National Championships. Continue reading “Report: French National Championships, Libourne 2018”
By Siobhan Urquhart, Banbury CC
Last Sunday, 24th October, saw the culmination of the inter-club marathon race season, with Chelmsford winning the Hasler Final for the third consecutive year, ahead of second-placed Royal Canoe Club – in their first final in 40 years – with event hosts, Richmond, third.
GB sent a development squad of 12 out to the German National Championships in Rheine. The race course was set around a 5km lap with a nice pontoon portage, the seniors had to completed 6 laps (5 portages) and juniors 4 laps (3 portages).
First race off was the juniors men k1 in which we had 8 entries. Philip Miles (RLS) won the start convincingly, and six of the boys made the front group. After a couple of regroupings and swims from 4 of the boys the field spread out a lot. Will Scammell (LON) made a charge from the back and picked up a few of the other Brits on the way. By this point James Smithson (RLS) was in the lead group and he managed to sprint in for the win. All the British Boys came in within the top 12.
Next off was the junior girls K2 of Bronte Holden (FOY) and Steph Hutchinson (LON); due to a small field the senior ladies crew had to race down to the junior girls race. Bronte and Steph had a good start and managed to drop all other boats other than a C2 within 2 laps. The girls unfortunately managed to damage their rudder on the last portage so struggled with the last turn with just 500m to go to the finish so came in 2nd but top women’s K2 crew.
The senior men of Robert Poole (LBZ) and Luke Bowyer (ELM) had a very fast start Robert managed to paddle straight into the lead V wash, with Luke onto the lead 5th. Robert managed to stay with the top group of 5 for just over a lap but then dropped off. Luke and Robert then worked together and dropped the Germans in their group and finished in 5th and 6th.
Day 2 racing saw all the athletes on the water at the same time, boys and men in k2 and the girls in their K1s. The men’s k2 start line included the German pair who came 5th in last years’ World Championships, Poole managed to get their K2 straight into the lead V. The boys were dropped from the lead group but fortunately for them the lead K2 got a 30 second penalty and after a lap or so all four top boats were back together. The top four then split into two but the British boys managed a smooth last portage and sprinted in for 3rd place.
Junior boys K2 race also had a very fast start from the Germans with Tim Dowden (NOR) & Kieran Haywood (NOR) aswell as Philip Miles (RLS) & James Smithson (RLS) making the front group. With a bit of grafting from Will Scammell (LON) & Dougal Glaisher (EXE) and Tim Gannicott-Porter (CLM) & Alex McIntyre (CLM) they chased down the front group and we had all four K2’s finish in the top 7.
In the Junior Women’s K1 both Steph (LON) and Bronte (FOY) made the front group but unfortunately after two laps Bronte had to pull out due to injury, Steph had an excellent race and managed to spend a fair amount of time in the V wash and then lead the group into the last portage and left the Belgians and Germans for dead and convincingly took the win.
Thanks to all the parents and coaches of the athletes as well as the support staff on the trip Phil Gunney, Sam Simpson and Dave Sackman who gave up their free time for the trip.
Senior men’s K1: Robert 5th Luke 6th
Junior ladies K1: Stephanie Hutchinson 1st
Junior ladies k2: Steph and Bronte Holden 1st
Junior boys k2: Phil and James 3rd, Tim D and Kieran 4th, Will and Dougal 5th, Tim GP and Alex 7th
Katie Williams, Team Manager
The 2016 World Canoe Marathon Championships took place last weekend in Brandenburg, Germany. GB sent a team of 14 athletes and 4 staff, contesting 11 events.
2016’s only Marathon World Cup took place last weekend on the river Cavado in Vila Verde, Portugal. With the promise of prize money for the senior races, and both Spain and Portugal using this as their final selection event for the Worlds, the level of competition in many of the races was as good as it gets.
The GB team combined youth and experience. Juniors were in the majority, with four girls (Bronte Holden of Fowey CC, Hafsa Kabeer of Longridge, Flo Duffield of Norwich and Harriet Quigley of Bradford on Avon) and four boys (Luke Shaw of Norwich, David Hatton of Chester, Chris Carson of Wey and Oscar McKittrick of Elmbridge). Mike Goodall of Elmbridge and Nick Romain of Richmond raced senior men’s classes. Finally, the Portuguese federation had invited last year’s top finishers from the worlds to race, so we were joined by Lizzie Broughton of Richmond and Keith Moule of Chelmsford.
The marathon World Cup format now combines two distances, but for singles only. First there is a knock-out 3.6km short course competition, followed by a full-distance marathon on the last day. The short course format is fast and exciting, with two portages and three short laps in around 15 minutes of racing – top placings and fastest losers from each heat qualifying for a final.
The River Cavado is very natural with shallows, relatively fast flow and underwater obstacles to contend with, so this made racing interesting and technical. This kind of race perhaps less common in the UK, so it tested the river skills of our athletes. Downstream from the start into a headwind was hard on the arms, especially when shallow sections were hard to spot. Then the upstream involved avoiding rocks and trees both in and out of the water while keeping your boat out of the current.
The junior men’s short race saw two heats, each with two of our boys racing. David and Luke went in heat one. Luke managed a great first lap, racing coolly through the portage while many of the young athletes attempted the Adrian Boros style they had researched on YouTube, with amusing and calamitous consequences. Luke’s portage saw him out in 2nd place on lap 2, comfortably ahead of the next group, when he paddled under a tree and left his paddles behind. Overtaken by the next group including David, Luke lost at least a minute. Meanwhile, David paddled an excellent race to qualify in 2nd behind the Portuguese Ferreira, with Luke 7th and out of the final.
The second heat included Chris and Oscar. In this one the top juniors seemed a little better prepared, with Portugal, Germany and Denmark setting a fast pace. Our boys raced intelligently but had to settle for 4th and 5th respectively, and a short but painful wait to see if they had qualified. They both did, joining David in the final.
Lizzie held on to a dominant paddle from the Slovakian Bedec in her heat to qualify for the women’s final. In the first men’s race, Mike had a capsize, ending his chances, and Keith was 9th, out of the qualifying spots. Nick finished 6th in the second race, missing out on “fastest loser” qualification by only 5 seconds.
The junior women had a straight final and enjoyed considerably more success. Our reputation of having one of the best Women’s teams in world canoe racing was reinforced by claiming the top four places. Flo broke away with Harriet after the first lap, and stayed in front to claim the gold medal in front of her team-mate. Hafsa and Bronte came in close behind in that order. The organisers may have had to look at the very back of the closet for not one, but three union jacks, the national anthem was played, and we briefly held top spot in the medal table.
In the junior boys final, the strong Portuguese and German teams (who had clearly practiced their portages) dominated. David raced superbly to stay in the hunt for 3rd place but was beaten in the sprint and finished 5th, with Oscar 7th and an uncomfortable-looking Chris in 10th. It soon transpired that Chris had suffered an injury which brought a premature end to his racing weekend.
The women’s races included every one of the top contenders for the world title later this year. Lizzie raced intelligently with the Slovak Kristina Bedocs to claim silver, ahead of Hungary’s U23 world champ Vanda Kiszli. To give an idea of the quality of the race, behind them were the multiple world champion Renata Csay, 5k World Cup winner Jenny Egan and current world marathon champion Anna Koziskova. The equally strong men’s race was won by South Africa’s Andy Birkett, followed by local hero Jose Ramalho and the Hungarian YouTube portage star (as well as K2 world champion) Boros.
Four medals to the good, we headed into Sunday’s gruelling long course racing. Luckily the temperatures stayed reasonable, with only 30 degree heat compared to the 40 degrees of Friday. All of a sudden, the start lists were swelled by dozens of Spanish and Portuguese paddlers chasing international selection, and the strength in depth of canoe marathon in these two countries was impressive. They race hard, and are excellent both technically and tactically.
The boys’ race was off first, and the starter struggled to manage the 42 boats on a pontoon not quite long enough to hold them. It was quickly clear that our young team, most of whom have another junior year ahead of them, were outgunned this time. Nevertheless they raced their hearts out to finish well within the top half of the field, David coming in 13th, one place ahead of Oscar, with Luke in 17th.
It was a similar story in the 22-strong girls’ race, although Harriet raced superbly to hold on to a large front group of Spanish and Portuguese girls who gave her no quarter. Constantly forced to the 5th wash by a group which switched positions every time the British athlete found a better place, she nevertheless held on throughout, losing out narrowly in 4th place. Hafsa raced excellently to 11th. An early and scary swim for Bronte saw Flo rescue her from a tree as the organisers’ safety boat seemed more intent on following the front group, but the two girls got going again, and picked off other athletes throughout the race to finish in 16th and 17th.
The women’s long race started intensely as the top guns sought to make Renata Csay suffer as she had done in the short course race. A front group of all the main contenders formed, except for the world champ Anna Koziskova a short way behind. Renata struck at half way as she likes to do, and broke the group, with Bedec launching a solo chase. Lizzie followed with Jenny Egan and were caught by Anna K. Seeing the top two go well clear, Lizzie conserved energy while Anna pushed on unnecessarily, with the result that Lizzie beat her in the sprint for bronze.
The men’s race had so many entries that the organisers were forced to split the U23s from the Seniors. Keith and Mike raced the senior race to 12th and 20th respectively from 33 starters, with the race won in the same order as the short course by Birkett, Ramalho and Boros. In the U23s, Nick had a very good race to finish 7th from 25 starters.
Well done to the team for their results and commitment, and thank you to the staff: Dyson and Ali Pendle who drove the minibus and trailer over, Jim Rossiter who is driving it back after three days of providing entertaining race commentary worthy of Murray Walker, and last but not least Katie Williams whose tireless commitment and occasional medical help kept the team on track.
James Smythe, team manager.
Report by Dyson Pendle, Team Manager
Andy Daniels (Longridge)
Zyggy Chmiel (Nottingham)
Joe Petersen (Banbury)
Tim Pendle (Norwich)
Lewis Duffield (Chelmsford)
Charlie Smith (Leighton Buzzard)
Peter Wilkes (Chelmsford)
Alex Lane (Longridge)
Freya Peters (Richmond)
James Russell (Chelmsford)
Emma Russell (Chelmsford)
Keith Moule (Chelmsford)
Lizzie Broughton (Richmond)
Fay Lamph (Wey)
Team Manager Dyson Pendle
Jo Bates, Melvin Swallow and Ali Pendle (Dyson and Ali driving)
Venue: Pontevedra has a tidal estuary, which is why there was a 4 day programme to allow suffient water for all the races. A starting net was used for the first time which had consequences if you tried to push the start or were next to someone who did!! There seemed to be some advantage to starting on the left as it was the shortest route to the first bend and also less in the flow. It was more or less an open access course with the only instuction to keep right through specified arches on one of the old bridges. Apart from that you could go where you liked on the course as long as you did the required portages and turns.This made for interesting racing as with the tide constantly changing the groups could and did take different lines against the flow.
Junior boys K1
First off for our team were the junior boys Charlie Smith and Joe Petersen on Thursday morning. Charlie had a good start, leading for the first 750m, Joe back in the main group about 10th. At the first turn, Charlie was with the leading group but was spun and ended up in the bank. He quickly recovered but by then was in the third group. The leading 3 boats, Hungary, Portugal and Germany took advantage of the situation and opened a gap. Charlie jumped from group to group, eventually joining the chasers in the 2nd group. By the first portage there was a gap of 45s between the leaders and the 2nd group. Charlie led the chasers out of the portage and then away on his own tried hard to close down on the leaders for a lap. He eventually resigned himself to rejoining the 2nd group and led this group into the finish to secure 4th place, 2min behind the winners. Joe paddled exceptionally well in the chasing groups and finished 9th, 45s behind Charlie. This was the first time these boys have raced at this level.
Alex made an excellent start straight into the front group of 8 paddlers which stayed together for the first lap. At the 2nd turn a split formed and 2 groups of 4 established with Alex in the 2nd group and 2 Hungarians, Spain and Denmark in the leading group. The 2 Hungarian boats eventually got away on their own leaving Denmark and Spain to fight it out for Bronze. The Spanish girl led the Danish into the last portage but fell in whilst getting in her boat allowing the Dane to take the Bronze without a contested finish. Alex portaged strongly throughout the race and finished in 6th place in her 9th ever K1 race!!!
Junior Girls K2
Our girls had an excellent start, making the front group of 4 with Hungary, Belgium and Denmark. Finding the pace just a bit too fast, they slipped off on the 2nd lap leaving the others to fight it out for the medals, and dropped back to join the chasers.They continued to race well, keeping out of trouble and finished strongly to secure 6th place, 3min down on the winner. Bearing in mind that Freya is U15 and Emma U16, this boat shows great potential and it has plenty of time to develop into a medal winning team.
Lewis Duffield and Ziggy Chmiel. A very fast start saw both lads towards the front, Ziggy was in the v-wash of the front 4 when he was turned and fell in. He lost about 3min to get to the bank, empty his boat and get back in. He carried on and gradually clawed his way back through the field, eventually joining the chasing group that Lewis was in. Lewis had been with the leading group of 7 to the first turn, then he and 1 other dropped off here. He found it very hard at the front of the race and eventually settled in a group of chasers half way down the field. Ziggy caught back to 9th place and finished 5min behind the winners, Lewis in 10th, 10 sec behind Ziggy.
Senior Women’s K1
With Renata back and looking to be number 1 again after being beaten last year in the world championships at Gyor, this was always going to be a hard race. It turned out to be just that!!
Anna Koziskova (Czech) got away with the 2 Hungarians (Renata and Vanda who had won the U23 women the day before), but she was given a hard time by the Hungarians and was dropped after the second portage. Lizzy, in the 2nd group was also in good company, Cicali (Italy) and Broekx (Belgium) but got the better of them and held Cicali off in a sprint for 4th place. I can’t imagine that at the World Championships there will be any better women there than the top 6 that finished here.
Senior Men’s K1
Keith was lined up next to one of the Portugese who tried to jump the start but got caught in the net and fell in. Unluckily for Keith the capsized boat stopped the net from going down completely so his boat was held back by the top wire so he was unable to move, had to back paddle a couple of strokes and then could go. Although delayed by only a few seconds, the damage was done and Keith found himself at the back of the field. The race was quickly down to 4 boats, Spain (Merchan), Portugal (Ramalho), Hungary (Boros) and France (Boulanger). Merchan worked hard with the group to keep the 2nd Spanish boat (Alonso) from catching them. Eventually Boulanger dropped and the front group was down to 3. Alonso kept trying to catch the leaders trying different routes upstream to try to gain some time but never made it. Ramalho won in Hank McGregor style, Merchan 2nd and Boros 3rd. Keith finished 12th, 3.40 down.
Senior Women’s K2
This race was close to a world championship field with all the main contenders from the 2015 Gyor World championships. Off the start a large group formed to the top turn. Inevitably the group squeezed and Renata and Vanda (Hungary) came off best and broke away clear, leaving the rest to chase. Fay and Lizzie formed a group with Italy and Czech but they could make no impression on the Hungarians who had a lead of a minute or so. The race stayed more or less the same throughout. Most encouraging for Fay and Lizzie is that whenever there was a problem, such as being late out of a portage or blocked on the turn, either by experience or by being able to turn on some extra speed, they could get back to the other 2 boats. At the last portage the Italians errored and dropped the boat on the run, giving the other 2 the advantage. Fay and Lizzie led it to the line but were unable to hold off the Czechs. They were very pleased with their result and performance. Hungary, gold, Czech, silver and GB, bronze.
Senior Men’s K2
A unfortunate start for the Hungarian boat (Boros/ Meszaros) left them swimming for the bank after just 250m. It took them 2min to get back in their boat and start to chase. The race strung out quickly with a front group of 3 boats establishing early on ( Spain, Spain and France). The Spanish worked on the French until they were broken (3 laps). The French then went into free fall through all the chasing groups, eventually the guy in the back collapsed at the 6th portage and needed medical attention! Total Committment!!!
Our boys, Tim and Andy had a reasonable start but not as blistering as we have seen in their previous races. For James and Peter, it was their first international racing together and Peter’s first race at this level. For James it was a step up from Junior racing last year. They coped well with the group work and portages but lacked speed on the main field.
Tim and Andy found themselves in the middle of the field where groups were changing constantly and then eventually led in their group of 2 Italians and a Beligium boat with a impressive sprint to the line to gain 10th place.
James and Peter had a stroke of luck when the capsized Hungarian boat caught them and they were able to stick with them until the last lap and finished in 16th place.
The 2 leading Spanish boats worked together and took gold and silver, the rest were left to fight it out for bronze, eventually taken by the Danes.
With the athletes coming from a number of different clubs, it was good to see that the team worked and supported each other well. The event was held over 4 days, so for this reason we decided to fly out the juniors and U23’s first with the seniors joining later. The juniors/U23’s then flew back on Saturday once they had finished their races.This made the trip much more cost effective and allowed the MRC to send the 14 athletes they wanted. We had 6 athletes that had never raced at a major marathon event before and now realise the level that is required to gain medals at these competitions. They return inspired and keen to train to the make these next steps up. Everyone enjoyed the town of Pontevedra, the technical course and the novelty of having some sunshine!! We liked the fact that that it was a short walk, both to the course or the city centre from the hotel. One thing the organisation got spot on was a free refreshments tent for the athletes and team staff, supplying a variety of drinks and snacks, including water, fruits, nuts, little sandwiches etc. This was available all day and even on training days and was in addition to the lunches that were included in the registration fee.
Finally a thanks to all the staff who have given up their time to help. Dyson.
The event this year was held at Bouchemaine, near to Angers in the Loire valley, on the River Main. The event was held over the weekend of 26/27 September. The French organisers kindly invited us back after having attended their 2012 and 2013 championships.
The team was made up of u16 and u14 athletes, 6 boys and 8 girls, and four staff. We decided this year to race the athletes in the higher age categories so the u16’s raced in the u18 events and the u14’s in the u16 races. This was to ensure as far as possible that our athletes had good quality racing. It seems that the French marathon system is not as challenging as the UK system. As can be seen from the results the UK divisional system provides a challenging environment which particularly benefits our junior athletes.
The team travelled in two minibuses with one trailer meeting up a Wey Kayak Club on Thursday afternoon. Once the boats were loaded on the trailer and the athletes assigned to the minibuses, to match the ferry booking, we set off for Portsmouth and the overnight boat to St Malo. Off the boat early next morning for the three hour or so drive to the event meant we arrived late morning. Dropped the trailer at the course and had a quick look at the river/portage and general layout albeit the infrastructure was being set up.
The team checked into the hotel 15 or so minutes away from the course. Hotel Kyriad at Ponts de Ce. We were on a two night stay and the hotel provided breakfast and dinner. The hotel proved to be more than adequate. Motel type rooms, quiet with sufficient facilities and the meals exceeded expectation. The making of a happy team!! Well-fed and watered!! On the two race days lunch was provided at the course which again was more than adequate.
The return trip would be overnight boat from Caen to Portsmouth and onward to Wey Kayak Club.
After having had lunch the group returned to the course and were able get on the water to check the course out. The course was essentially a 5km lap with a portage at the end of each lap except for the last lap which was straight to finish. The race set up was good emulating what would be found at major championships. The portage was 100m or so grassed portage with a feeding lane and pontoons at each end. The pontoons could be accessed from both sides for racing. It was clear that the right hand side of the out pontoon was favourable but the left side whilst a little slower gave an advantage at the get in end. The left side being clear most of the time. The river was wide and deep with some flow. The section through the portage and finish area on the upstream leg had to be paddled straight up the middle of the river as the bend would have meant a significant increase in distance if taking shelter from the bank. Further up the course the river swept the opposite way such that taking shelter from the bank was the way to go.
The racing started in the early afternoon on Saturday. The first races for our group were the U16 boys and girlsK2’s followed in the afternoon, 16:00, starts the U18 boys and girls K2’s. All our crews fared well with podium positions in both girls k2 races and the U16 boys and a 4th position in the U18 boys K2.
Sunday brought the K1 races for our team and greatly increased fields. There had been mixed K2 classes for the juniors and cadets on the Saturday which were well populated. The U16 races were in the first starts, 09:30, and the U18 races in the second starts, 13:00.
The U16 boys had 50+ and the girls 30+ starters. The U18 boys had 40+ and the girls 20+….good sized fields for our development athletes to compete in.
The Competition Experience
The French ran their championships very much on the lines of what would be encountered at a major championships…..
- 100 m portage with feeding lane
- Boat and athlete control to get on to the water for the racing
- Course umpires at turns and portage
- Boat weighing for the first four boats in each class
- Doping control (none of our athletes were called)
- Formal podium prize giving
This coupled with working with team staff and the group as a whole gave our young athletes a good insight of what it would be like at a major championships.
The medal highlights for our group were:
U16 Ladies K2 – 1st Freya Peters (RIC)/Samantha Martyn (WEY); 2nd Hafsa Kabeer (LON)/Harriet Quigley (WYC)
U16 Mens K2 – 2nd Fred Kemp (RDG)/Tim Dowden (RLS)
U18 Ladies K2 – 1st Florence Duffield (NOR)/Bronte Holden (FOY); 2nd Eloise Hall (LBZ)/Emma Russell (CLM)
U16 Ladies K1 – 1st Freya Peters (RIC); 3rd Harriet Quigley (WYC)
U18 Mens K1 – 1st Joe Hansell (B3C)
U18 Ladies K1 – 1st Emma Russell (CLM); 3rd Samantha Martyn (WEY)
The full results can be viewed at:
There is a French club video which has glimpses of some of our paddlers and excellent coverage of the starts and the portage can be viewed at:
The full team was:
Flo Duffield (NOR)
Freya Peters (RIC)
Eloise Hall (LBZ)
Harriet Quigley (WYC)
Samantha Martyn (WEY)
Hafsa Kabeer (LON)
Bronte Holden (FOY)
Emma Russell (CLM)
Joe Hansell (B3C)
Arthur Urquhart (BAN)
Matthew Callow (LBZ)
Finn Cadell (LGW)
Tim Dowden (RLS)
Fred Kemp (RDG)