GB team claims second place in Spanish International K4 Series

Each year the towns of Sanabria and Valladolid organise a pair of international K4 races, over a distance of roughly 5km each. Over 60 K4s take part in a range of classes, with the international K4 class being the highlight.

This year, the Spanish organisers attracted eight international crews of the highest standard, to take on their top crew of Merchan, Alonso, Fernandez and Ruiz (who hold a selection of world marathon and sprint titles between them).

Racing against them were our GB crew of Tim Pendle (NOR), Andy Daniels (LON), Keith Moule (CLM) and Jon Simmons (WEY). The German crew included multiple Olympic medallist Andreas Ihle, and crews from Portugal, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Italy all contained proven medal winners.

The first race took place on 19th July in Valladolid, where the GB crew took third behind Spain and Germany. They went one better the next day in Sanabria, but were unable to stay with the Spanish crew and had to settle for the silver medal ahead of Portugal. These results gave them second overall for the series.

These athletes will all be contesting the National Championships at Worcester next month, and will be hoping to make the World Championship team for Oklahoma in September.

Four medals for GB at European Marathon Champs

Only a week after the opening of the season of ICF marathons with the World Cup, the European Championships took place between 13th and 15th June in Piestany, Slovakia.

Sprinters will be familiar with the course on the dammed river Vah at Piestany, which can be generous to racers with its slight following current. The annual junior international took place here only two weeks before the marathon in chilly conditions, but the sun was very much shining on the GB team this weekend.

Our team comprised the following:-

Magnus Gregory (Longridge) and Ross McMullen (Elmbridge), racing in the junior men’s K1 and K2 races
Elise Piercy (Elmbridge), racing junior ladies’ K1
Sam Plummer (Leighton Buzzard) in the U23 men’s K1
Jenny Illidge (Worcester) in the U23 women’s K1
Fay Lamph (Wey) and Lizzie Broughton (Richmond) racing in the senior women’s K1 and K2 races
Jon Simmons (Wey) and Keith Moule (Chelmsford) racing in the senior men’s K1 and K2 races
Andy Daniels (Longridge) and Tim Pendle (Norwich) racing in the senior men’s K2 race.

The European Championships entry was of a very high standard this year, meaning it would be hard to match our three european gold medals of 2013 (Amy Ward in junior K1, and with Sam Rees-Clark in junior K2, and Fay & Lizzie in women’s K2). The entry lists featured most of the names who had won senior and U23 world medals at Copenhagen.

Three long days of competition start with the junior singles races. At only 15 years old but with an impressive set of results behind him already, Magnus faced a tough task in the boys race, and was joined by Ross McMullen who had won the Bedford assessment race. A big start saw Magnus at the start of a large group heading into the first turn only 1800m from the start line. This upstream turn proved important in most races as it thinned groups out considerably, but Magnus’s positioning near the front saw him through clear. Very quickly Magnus and the Hungarian Gyorgyjakab broke away at the front of the race and established a lead of several minutes. Ross found himself in a challenging group of nine boats stretching from third to eleventh on the water. While the front runners were untroubled, the big group regularly fractured at portages and turns, while Ross made impressive efforts to come back each time he was held up.

The Hungarian finally too strong for Magnus in the final portage and broke away to win, but Magnus took an excellent silver medal, nearly five minutes ahead of third. Ross took tenth place only 30 seconds from the bronze winner. Tough break of the day went to the Portuguese Azevedo who was lined up to collect a bronze medal, only for judges to pull him out of the queue in favour of the German Pflugfelder at the last minute. Perhaps an omen of the football result to come!

While the boys were racing, Elise was contesting the junior ladies’ K1. A difficult start saw her separated from the front group of six, and despite chasing one of them down she had to settle for seventh place. Elise will still be a junior next year, unlike four of those who finished in front of her.

The U23 races also took place on Friday. Jenny Illidge made an impressive start to get into the front group, but was unable to keep with the pace of some of the 2013 world medallists who dominated the race, and finished tenth behind the winning Hungarian Vaczai. Sam Plummer, in his first year as a senior, faced a similarly tough task in a world class field, finishing eleventh only three minutes from the Norwegian winner Minde.

Following Ross and Magnus’ performances in K1, they had high hopes for the K2 the next morning, and their first few laps promised to deliver. Unfortunately fatigue caught up with them and they were dropped from the leading group of three, by the Hungarian and German crews. They were eventually caught by the chasing pack and had to settle for a sixth place which didn’t quite do justice to the quality of their race.

Lizzie and Fay, last year’s European K2 marathon champions, had made the decision to double up this year and test their ability to race both K1 and K2. At the same time, the big guns had come out to play and the women’s K1 start included a string of world champions in Csay, Cicali, Faldum and Bara. This group set a blistering pace to the first turn, where the current sent Lizzie into one of the turn buoys, into reverse gear and out of the front group. She and Fay set about chasing, and over 2km kept the gap at around 20 seconds. The portage thinned out the lead and chasing groups, leaving Lizzie just behind the front group with the Bulgarian (and ex-Hungarian world champion) Faldum. Lizzie waited until they were within striking distance before attacking the Bulgarian and rejoining Csay, Cicali and the Serbian Bedocs.

With Csay’s long experience dictating the race, Lizzie raced with great strength and intelligence to drop first the Serbian, and then the Italian, finishing 25 seconds behind Csay to claim the silver medal. Fay claimed seventh place just behind Bara.

If the women’s K1 was not enough excitement for the day, the men’s K1 was equal to it.The field here was exceptionally well matched, and saw a group of a dozen mix it up for almost the full duration. At the front, marathon champions Alonso of Spain, Ramalho of Portugal and Hamar of Norway were fighting a tactical war against the German three-time Olympic medallist Andreas Ihle. Rather than fall into a trap of paddling steadily, the marathon racers broke the sprinter down with sharp accelerations and better tactical use of the current. In the mix throughout was Keith Moule, who found himself in and out of the front group several times.

Things looked to be settled when Ramalho led Alonso and the Hungarian Boros away with a lap to go, but only 1800m later Keith was back leading a front group of ten only 3km from the finish, while Ihle was dropped. The final portage was taken at full pelt, and a slip-up getting in saw Keith’s boat fill with water, dropping him to a ninth place finish, extremely impressive nevertheless. At the front, Alonso led through the finish ahead of Ramalho and Hamar. Some aggressive steering in the finishing strait saw the Spaniard relegated to second, making Ramalho the champion.

Sunday’s K2 races are the fastest of the event and did not disappoint in terms of excitement. Fay and Lizzie were under constant pressure in the front group of the ladies’ race as reigning champions, and the Italian and Hungarian crews contained better rested athletes. These crews managed to get away, while Fay and Lizzie beat the Swedish pair to claim the bronze medal, and GB’s third of the competition overall.

GB have not claimed a medal in a senior men’s K2 championship since 1997, but this year we fielded two strong crews in Pendle/Daniels and Moule/Simmons. Tim and Jon hair paired up for a fourth place last year, while Andy had managed a fourth place at the 2010 Worlds, so there was plenty to hope for.

Tim and Andy managed to establish themselves in the front group from the start, while Keith and Jon got into the chasing group. The front group soon became five: the Spanish world champions
Alonso & Merchan, their compatriots Bouzan & Fernandez, the Hungarians Boros and Petrovics, and the Portuguese Brandao & Nanita. All of these crews had winning pedigrees but our boys were untroubled throughout. First to fall back were the Portuguese who valiantly chased the front four for several laps, led mostly by the GB crew as the Spaniards were content to wait.

Merchan and Alonso waited until the final portage to attack, putting in first in an attempt to go clear. Bouzan and Fernandez had seen it all before and caught them quickly, with our boys and the Hungarians close behind. The world champions led the complete group of four out of the turn, and with 200m to go Tim and Andy made a serious attempt to come past. But the race plan of the spanish crews paid off and they were able to take first and second by a quarter of a boat length from the British crew, the Hungarians having fallen back.

Many of the athletes racing for Great Britain at the championships had made a choice between attending the June regatta selections or going for a medal in Piestany. The potential sacrifice of a sprint selection demonstrates their commitment to being medal winners, and they delivered.

James Smythe, Team Manager.

Marathon World Cup 2014, Bohinj, Slovenia

Team; Seniors; Tom Sharpe (RIC) Albert Hicks (NOR) Mark Wilkes (CLM) Paul Yates (WEY), Juniors: Zyggy Chmiel (NOT) James Russel (CLM) Trevor Thompson (EAL) Luke Bowyer (ELM). Staff Melvin Swallow, Sarah Akerman.

Fantastic venue in the heart of Slovenia’s Alp national parkland, a lake 4k long 500mts wide surrounded by mountains. The lake was flat whilst we were there but I’m told can get windy. The local canoe club operates from there and has a 2k line of buoys every 10mts for training. There are no powered craft allowed other then electric, we saw one pleasure tourist boat around 7mts in length that operated from one end of the lake to the other. The trips were a 2 hour turnaround and the boat travelled around 5km/h, with little wash.

The race control area, portage, start/finish and athlete area were all in one location with enough room for a world cup, but needs some more development for a major championship. Our accommodation was 6mins walking away, so no transport problem. The course was out and back for both events, for the short course Ok but some thought needs to be put in for the long course to make some improvements especially the portage.

The organizer was very enthusiastic and in general done a good job and the results were available soon after each event.

New format short course racing which is based on a 1000mt circuit involving a portage, a course which has the furthest point at 500mts; 3 laps and a mini lap making 3.7k with 2 portages. Each class does a heat in the morning to qualify for a final in the afternoon with 50% of the entry being eliminated from the heats.

The Bohinj entry was around 20 senior men so 2 heats of 10 were drawn, with the first 3 over the line from each heat straight to the final and then the 4 fastest losers, making 10 for the final. Junior men had 2 heats of 10, women, girls and C1 were all straight finals. The competitors were a mix between sprint race guys and marathon. The junior men and senior men events were won by sprint guys that did not take part in the races on Sunday (marathon events).However the marathon guys were a close second, Matais Hamar (Nor) who won the race on Sunday was 4th in the short course race on Saturday. With the juniors Zyggy Chmiel (GBR) who won the marathon was 2nd on the short course. The event was well received by athletes and spectators, and after discussing with the athletes competing in the 2 events did not affect their performance on the sunday.

Sunday marathon: a marathon of laps in our normal format with 8 3.7 K laps for sen. Men and 6 for junior boys. Our development team of 4 boys and 4 men all performed well which gave us a chance to see what they could do against some good competition. Outstanding performances for the juniors Zyggy 1st and Trevor 3rd. Sen men Tom 6th.

(Full results at http://www.bohinj.si/worldcup2014/rezultati.php)

Dyson Pendle, Team Manager.

Gent Marathon 2014

The MRC invites a small team of young athletes each year to take part in the Gent marathon in the Flanders region of Belgium. This 20km race is a considerable challenge for mostly aged under 16, and who for the most part are not yet ranked in division 3 or above which would give them regular experience of racing over this distance. In recent years, the race has also seen entries from the best Belgian juniors, including world and European junior medalists.

This year our team was comprised of the following athletes:-

JUNIOR MEN C1 Adrian Meikle-Briggs, Ben Phillips (both Richmond)

JUNIOR MEN K1 Matt Hayward (Norwich), Timo Morris (Falcon), Joe Petersen (Banbury), Ben Powell (Richmond), Harry Shearer (Norwich), James Smithson (Leamington), Declan Strong (Chelmsford), Josh Westwood (Wey), Owen White (Chelmsford) , Guy Willoughby (Addlestone)

JUNIOR LADIES K1 Charlotte Avery (Chelmsford), Rose Blackman (Gailey), Ava Dale (Falcon), Flo Duffield (Norwich), Bronte Holden (Fowey), Laura Ruff (Royal), Lily Wong (Richmond) and Rebekah Solway (Elmbridge)

Invitations are based on the commitment and performances observed at winter training days and local/regional time trials, which should have made this winter’s list tough to choose due to the high winds and flooding that disrupted our events throughout the winter. But when it came down to looking for performances, there was plenty to choose from with successful training days in several regions, races like the Essex Winter Series and Wey’s Hare & Hounds, early Hasler races and even the Watersides. In the event it was very difficult to reduce the list to 20 athletes who had not been invited to the race before.

This year’s race had been postponed from the usual late March to late May, which held the promise of better conditions than the driving snow and headwind of last year. Rain had been forecast but in the event it was suntan weather. The 12 mile race involved a lap of the Gent regatta lake, followed by two laps of the Leie canal which forms a loop around parts of the city.

With most of the team arriving that the course on Friday afternoon, we were able to paddle a lap of the river section to get a feel for the water and learn key parts of the course. The benefits of this might sound flimsy, but on this course the water gets very choppy behind a group, so sections of the course are easy to lose time or energy on, and others offer tactical advantage if you are familiar with them. It was telling that the four athletes who had exams on the Friday morning in the UK, and who had arrived too late to paddle the course on Saturday, suffered from both the stresses of the Friday and lack of preparation on the course.

The junior boys race start was second off, immediately after the senior men, and included the current Belgian national champion Daan Cox, and Niels Verduyckt, whose father Erik has his own well-stocked trophy cabinet. Josh Westwood (Wey) made a strong start with the Belgian Cox, and after a lap of the regatta course they had broken clear, with Verduyckt and Joe Petersen (Banbury) in pursuit, closely followed by Declan Strong (Chelsmford), Ben Powell (Richmond) and Timo Morris (Falcon)

The Belgian Cox was able to break away and win by a minute from Josh, with Verduyckt some 4 minutes back. Declan finished well in 4th, Joe 5th with Timo and Ben close behind in 6th and 7th.

The girls’ K1 race started with the boys’ C1 and senior women’s K1. On a bumpy course, Elmbridge’s Rebekah Solway quickly found her way to the front with a couple of Belgians and Chelmsford’s Charlotte Avery and Royal’s Laura Ruff. Rebekah used a quick first portage to break away from the group and establish a lead of over a minute by the finish.

The front runners at the first portage were closely followed by Ava Dale (Falcon), Rose Blackman (Gailey), Lily Wong (Richmond) and Bronte Holden (Fowey)

After a hard first lap of the bumpy water of the Leie canal the order had changed, with Rebekah ahead of Charlotte, followed by Lily, Rose and Laura.

At the front end of the race, Rebekah Solway managed to break away and win from a couple of senior Belgians, with Charlotte Avery the second junior and Lily Wong close behind in third, a highly impressive performance for a 14 year old. Rose Blackman followed in fourth and Laura Ruff fifth.

Adrian Meikle-Briggs and Ben Phillips (both Richmond) had a difficult job in their C1s on such a bumpy course which seemed at times to demand more steering than power on the stroke. They raced together to over half way, before Adrian managed to break away on the final lap.

The team travelled back to the UK on Saturday evening, and it was impressive to see so many of the athletes take part in Reading’s Hasler and assessment races the following day. The qualities of future international athletes are there for all to see.

Thanks very much indeed to the coaching and support team of Katie Williams, Claire and Phil Gunney, Sarah Akerman and Tom Daniels.

And extra thanks to Bruce Blackman and Ian Hayward, who volunteered to pick up the athletes taking exams and bring them all the way to Gent (or is it Ghent?) for the weekend. Your long drive, and short night’s sleep in a tent in a wet field was appreciated by the young athletes.

RESULTS CAN BE DOWNLOADED HERE

James Smythe, team manager

Waterlands Marathon 2014 – Report

PDF VERSION WITH PHOTOS CAN BE VIEWED HERE

A development team of 8 K1 men, 4 K1 junior men and 1WK1 were selected to take  part in the 42nd running of the Waterlands canoe marathon. The team was chosen following the Elmbridge Assessment race on 16 March.

Course

The race consists of one loop of the canal system essentially starting and finishing in the vicinity of Viking Canoe Club. The race has two starts one for senior men and veterans, for a 23km course with two portages and the other start for juniors and women for a 14km course. The second start is just after the first portage on a wide section of waterway.

The  race for the senior and veteran men contains two portages , one after 7 kilometers in the town of Monnickendam and a second portage close to the town of Ilpendam. The race starts on a wide section of canal about 2km from the canoe club. The course then follows several canals which vary in width and depth. The first portage is relatively simple round a canal lock. The second portage at Ilpendam is unique because the Dutch wetlands requires participants to land their boats on to the shore before continuing through the marshy meadow. The route then passes through the shallow waters of a nature area before heading back to the main deeper canal and back through the start line and on to the finish near the canoe club.

Race

The quality of the senior K1 field was impressive with Ramalho (Portugal) Alonso, Merchan, Rodriguez (Spain) all having been world marathon champions or medallists. There were also paddlers from Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Hungary and of course the Netherlands. Quite an opportunity for domestic competitors to line up in such a quality field. With approval from the BCU Marathon Committee the race is within reach, distance and ability, of many of our marathon competitors.

The senior/veterans start was a 60 boat+ affair. A fast start being a must. A large front group formed with all the main protagonists present. Romalho and the Spanish led through the first portage with many of our team hot on their heels. The race continued on to the second portage with much the same situation at the head of the race. A large front group, 10 or so boats, stayed together with others not far behind. Romalho had the lead on the wide canal on the way to the finish. The Spanish launched several attacks but failed to get past and the front group splintered as they approached the finish line. Romalho 1st, Merchan 2nd, Rodriguez 3rd, and Alonso 4th. The stand out result for our team was Magnus Gregory, an U16 junior , coming in 12th place 39 seconds behind the winner. Also Nick Romain, first year senior, was 14th just a few seconds behind Magnus. Magnus performed well at the Elmbridge assessment race and the selection committee offered him the opportunity to race with the seniors at Waterlands which he grabbed in no uncertain terms and really did himself proud along with his support team at Longridge Canoe Club.

In the junior race we had 4 competitors. They all made a strong start and Kayne settled into the front group with our other juniors not far behind. A mishap at the portage detached Kayne from the leaders and joined him with the second group with Luke and James with Trevor not far behind. The trio of Kayne, Luke and James chased hard and finished just 27 seconds behind the leading three. A good effort by all four boys.

The ladies race had mixed fortunes for the UK paddlers. Lizzie Broughton and Leanne Brown, both private entries, got away well. Emma got caught up in a congested start crash and ended up in the water. She got back into her boat and paddled strongly and went through the field to finish in 8th place. Lizzie took the win with Leanne in 3rd.

Organisation

Viking Canoe Club ran a good race. Excellent hospitality no stress with late comers wanting to race and the facilities of the club open to all. They did a great job enticing top paddlers to make a very competitive club international race. One to put on everybody’s calendar.

Edwin de Nijs deserves special mention. He laid on a guide to take us round the course so we could recce the portages and main features prior to the race, thanks to Paul Hoekstra for the trip round. Edwin also arranged our evening meals in a local restaurant with athlete food, a must before the race!!

Summary

An excellent event, good competition, with 28 or so competitors from the UK taking part. Viking Canoe Club run the race annually and are very welcoming to overseas competitors…..put it on your list of races for 2015.

Thanks go to the MRC for the opportunity to take part in a top class development race, the MRC volunteer staff for the event, Viking Canoe Club and particularly Edwin. Last but not least the paddlers who all raced well and did the team proud.

Team:

SMK1
Magnus Gregory
Albert Hicks
John o’Grady
Sam Plummer
Nick Romain
Shaune Walsh
Mark Wilkes
Paul Yates

JMK1
Luke Bowyer
James Russell
Trevor Thompson
Kayne Wilkinson

SWK1
Emma Horner

Staff:
Melvin Swallow (Team Leader)
Sarah Akerman
Phil Gunney (Phil’s photos can be found on the Viking Canoe Club website and Facebook Page….a selection of action shots!!)
Dave Sackman

The results can be found following this link:

http://amsterdamcanoemarathon.com/english/race-info/results-42nd-edition-amsterdam-waterland-marathon/

M Swallow 24 April 2014.

 

 

 

Racing and Buoyancy Aids

Those racing Waterside B at the weekend will be required to wear buoyancy aids by the race organisers.

The Marathon Racing Rules for Competition clearly state that Race Organisers have the final say as to whether buoyancy aids shall be worn, and who must wear them. The penalty for breaking this or any safety rule is disqualification.

Race Organisers may ask any competitor not complying with these requirements to withdraw, before or during the race, and to refuse to record that competitor’s time. If a paddler refuses to leave the course, he or she may be referred to the MRC for consideration of further disciplinary action, as their decision will have implications for the organisers’ ability to support the other competitors.

Our events are dependent on the consent of governing bodies like the Canal & Rivers Trust, and BCU insurance stipulations. The paddling community must ensure that these events are not put at risk by individuals ignoring the rules and race organisers.

MRC Committee meeting 1st Feb 2014

Full minutes will be posted after they have been agreed at the next meeting. Here is a précis of the meeting held on 1st Feb:

1. Syllabus of Racing Coaching for both marathon and sprint disciplines being looked at by Ollie Harding in conjunction with SRC and Russell Smith of Canoe England.

2. Some changes have been made to the HRM program.
a. Scotland now shown as 2 regions.
b. Expiry date of BCU membership can now be entered, meaning that an up-to-date membership does not need to be re-checked.

3. Agreed that paddlers promoted by more than 2 divisions will not score Hasler points (i.e. being promoted from 9 to 6) – this to ensure new paddlers are entered into a suitable division in the first place.

4. 2014 Racing Handbook sent out to all Race Organisers. Accompanying letter can be read here.

5. BCU grant has been confirmed at £25,000. Spanish training camp has been removed from budget, so numbers going to Waterlands will be doubled.

6. Development training – several training events taking place in the regions. Water conditions mean problems for assessment/selection. Agreed that paddlers need to compete wherever possible in regional events. Coach endorsement needed for Gent.

7. 2014 MRC meetings:
a. April 11
b. Annual Consultative Meeting Worcester 23 August
c. November 15