It was just Jessica Croome, Olwen Yates and Finley Croome from the club at Bradford & Bingley Canoe Clubs race at the lovely Wagon Lane. Set on the banks of the River Aire, surrounded by rugby and cricket pitches, you had no idea you were so near a large town. The ground was dry enough that we were able to pitch our caravan on the filed next to the finish line giving us a perfect view of the action.
The course is of a similar standard to Stone, possibly a tiny bit trickier at the start with a small drop and then flatter and slower for the second half, it made for some good racing.
Jess and Olwen were up against each other in Div3. For Olwen it was only her third day racing and first time away from Stone. You couldn’t tell as she set a very good first run of 139sec putting her in 4th. Jess’s first run went well but the tricky set of up gates 3, 4 & 5 left room for improvement. She managed 132sec and 3rd place.
Despite her effort Olwen couldn’t improve on here first run, but did get one less touch and retained her 4th place overall. For Jess she picked up some touches on the up gates, but on the penultimate gate she caught the paddler in front up and collided. Loosing her a good few seconds. Despite this her time was faster than her first run, so she had a decision to make. She was faster but had been held up, could she go again and get another fast time or would she be too tired. The decision was simple as Jess walked off to the start line.
This time, more focused, more determined she set off. Absolutely text book through the up gates, the best she had done, then gave it everything for the rest of the course. A clean run and it looked fast, but was it enough? It felt like forever waiting for the official timing, then the card was put up, 123sec clean! A full 4 seconds faster than 2nd place and a 9 second improvement on the mornings run. She was over the moon and rewarded with a fantastic trophy and promotion to Div2.
Fin did well in his officials run coming in 4th both days behind a Prem, a Div1 paddler and his mate in Div2. On the Sunday he kindly borrowed a C1 from Green Start CC and despite the fact he hadn’t done much C1 managed to stay upright and was second after run one, but dropped to 3rd on his second run. Jess also did an officials run on the Sunday, but the excitement of the day before had taken it toll and for some totally unknown reason she decided to take one of the down gates as an up gate?
After the slalom racing finished on the Saturday, Bradford & Bingley and Nottingham CC got a fleet of Wild Water Racers out for some sprint racing. A totally new experience for many with some worried faces in these rather rocky craft. We were lucky enough to have a member of the GB sprint team there, who showed everyone how its done and set an impossible time to beat. Despite the high bench mark everyone really enjoyed it and had a really good time, with cheers and oohs from the crowd as paddlers made their way down the river or not.
One of the nicest things about these weekends is the social side. We got to relax on Saturday evening and enjoy a BBQ and maybe a glass or two of wine with the other parents and paddlers, the children all played and got to know each other better off the water. Jess particularly has formed a good friendship with her closest competition Chloe and whilst she came first on Saturday, there were big hugs and congratulations from each of them and it was Jess shouting the loudest for Chloe on Sunday where she took the win and also promotion. For any newer members of the club and anyone in Div3/4 I would make sure this race is on your calendar for next year.
Words – Adrian Croome
Pictures – Adrian & Louise Croome. Racing Pics – JRDN Photos @jrdnphotos