The beautiful wild flower meadow of Bala campsite welcomed the paddlers of Stafford & Stone with most arriving on Thursday, very pretty to look at, but not ideal for those pitching tents or for trudging across in the rain! The paddlers were made of sterner stuff and after setting up camp and refuelling from the 2hr journey, quickly progressed to practising Friday’s course taking full advantage of the water release before the rain came over.
Anyone hoping to practice early on Friday was met with a trickle of a river, and our paddlers could be spotted pacing up and down waiting for the day to begin. First up were the Officials, and the Div 1 Harry McKenna fired off an unbeatable time which secured 1st place. Next the Vets K1M saw Paul Evans, Darren Ship and Paul Wallace going for gold. Paul Evans going clear on his second run and shaving off those important tenths of a second to comfortably claim 1st place. Darren couldn’t improve on his first run and took 5th with Paul Wallace completing his first Div 2 race, in 8th place. The Div 2 K1W were up next, Olwen Yates fired off a blisteringly fast run but 2 touches pushed her into 2nd place after the completion of round one. On a mission to build on the successes at Llandysul, she set off and managed an even quicker time and importantly clean. First place and over 4 seconds clear of her closest rival gave Olwen her third set of 500 points and a very well deserved promotion to Div 1….. Congratulations Olwen !!
Daisy Macklin took 5th, Lucy Williamson 9th, Rebecca Harratt 11th, Alice Williamson 13th and Willow Rodi 24th. Div 2 K1M followed with Reuben Yates securing 4th place, Gabe Rawlings-Crofts in 15th and Adam Clarke competing in his first Div 2 race, 29th. In Div 2 C1W, S&SCC saw the much welcomed return of Brooke Benson who finished 6th, competing along with Daisy Macklin who took 3rd. The C2s had the ever impressive Steve & George Harratt, they charged down the course at lightning speed securing the win with only 1 run. Ever the professionals however, they piled back in for run 2. Again a masterclass in paddling, right up until gate 14 where I believe the quote of the day goes to Steve Harratt with, “What happened there?” Either way the 1stplace and clean run sticker were well deserved.
Moving to Division 3 (run on a shorter course), and C1M, Gabe Rawlings-Crofts took 1st and promotion to Div 2….Well done Gabe !! Aiden Perkin competing in his first Div 3 race, taking 10th spot. K1W up next, Holly Scott managing 2 clear runs to finish 2nd, Emma Wallace in 6th, Rowan Yates in 7th and Chloe Wallace in 8th. Div 3 K1M had a double podium finish for S&SCC with Dan Clarke securing his first win and Angus van Winsum claiming 2nd, brilliant work both ! Aiden Perkin finished in 15th, Harry Godwin 18th and Michael McKenna at his first Div 3, 22nd. The Div 3 C1W finished with Holly Scott in 7th and Emma & Chloe Wallace in 8th & 9th. Finally the poor Div 4s, who’d been forced to wait around all day watching the event run further and further behind. They had the pleasure of doing the practice run and 2 race runs back to back ! Harry Godwin was the only competitor in the C1M, putting in 2 very consistent times but sadly missing out on promotion again.
In K1M, Kunihito Watanabe managed 2 identical run times of 95 seconds, both clear to take 1st place and the all important promotion to Div 3….. Congratulations Kunihito !!
Saturday rolled in with rain clouds, and no free practice, official runs only ! Harry Godwin in Div 4 C1M was the first to go, and since the water had just been released an hour earlier,he faced a faster flow compared to yesterday. He managed to shave almost 20 seconds off his first run time, which was good enough for 2nd in the Div 4 K1M !! All Harry was concerned about however, was that all important promotion to Div 3 C1M, and he’d achieved that with ease….. Fantastic result Harry !!
The day then returned to the same schedule as Friday, so next to go were the Vet K1M. Paul Evans put in a speedy clean first run but sadly got knocked down to 2ndplace. Darren Ship finished in 6th and Paul Wallace 10th. Next up were the Div 2 K1W and Daisy Macklin put in a flyer of a second run to see her sit top of the results table, until a transmission check on a competitior’s timeconfirmed she’d been squeezed back to 2nd place. Alice Williamson finished 9th just ahead of her sister Lucy, Jessica Punchard managed two clear runs on her first Div 2 course to finish in 15th, Rebecca Harratt in 19th and Willow Rodi in 23rd. The Div 2 K1M saw Reuben Yates laying out his cards from the start, taking 1st place after run 1 and holding onto it despite fierce competition, his first ‘500’ points secured. Adam Clarke produced two near identical clean runs to finish 24th. Div 2 C1W followed and Daisy Macklin decided to copy Reuben’s plan and secured 1st place with her first run. Brooke Benson finishing in 9th. Team Harratt in the C2, again showed the young pretenders from Wales, that they had an awful lot to learn if they were expecting a victory on home waters!! Another 1st in the bag and 44 seconds clear.
Next up was the Div 3, first were the K1W, which saw Holly Scott secure 2nd place and an amazing promotion to Div 2…. Well done Holly!!!
Emma Wallace finished in 6th, ahead of Chloe Wallace in 7th and Rowan Yates in 8th. The K1M saw Dan Clarke finish in 4th, which although disappointed with, had to be pleased to have gained enough points for promotion to Div 2 … Amazing achievement Dan !!! Kunihito in his first Div 3, after his promotion yesterday took 10th, Harry Godwin in 17th and Aiden Perkin finished 20th. Finally the C1W and in almost the same order as Friday’s results saw Holly Scott in 8th, Chloe Wallace in 9th and Emma Wallace in 10th.
All present would agree it was an incredibly long couple of days but the Club successes, and the amazing cakes from the North Wales Slalom Club kitchen helped nudge the competition along. Thanks as always, to our dedicated Stafford & Stone coaches, who spend these weekends supporting all club paddlers as well as competing themselves.
Darren, George, Paul Evans, Steve and Bex. Also to our dedicated race photographers Paul Evans, Darren Ship, Becky Rodi & Clare Wallace…. you’re all fantastic !!!
Words – Gemma Macklin