Viking CC were impressive in their military organisation from the off, with free practice starting as soon as the water levels were high enough, so the Div 3s & 4s especially, could plan a route of attack in their own time. Meanwhile, the kitchen opened bang on 8am to feed the always ravenous support crews. Official practice started as promised at 9am before racing kicked off at 10.30am.
Leading the charge were our Vet K1Ms, the two Pauls. Paul Evans producing two quick and clean runs to walk away with 2nd place and Paul Wallace finishing in 5th.
Straight onto the Div 2 paddlers and C1M, Gabe Rawlings-Crofts couldn’t improve on his morning run so finished in 4th. K1W up next, and the concrete ditch gave Daisy Macklin the 1st place and 500 points she needed to secure promotion to Div 1 ….. Amazing effort Daisy !!
Alice Williamson took 9th, Lucy Williamson 12th and Keira Pearce 13th in her first race of the season…. Welcome back Keira! Holly Scott in her first Div 2 race after her promotion at Bala Mill, finished in 15th. K1M and the fight for the top spots impressed as usual, with less than 8 seconds separating the top 10. Gabe claiming 7th place just ahead of Reuben Yates in 8th, Adam Clarke with another trademark 2 clean runs in 21st and Daniel Clarke in his first Div 2 race in 30th. Finally the C1W, and Daisy Macklin, focussing heavily on her K1 runs finished in 3rd.
No competition of note for our C2 powerhouse of Steve & Rob Harratt, sweeping into 1st place with probably enough spare time to eat a tube of soured cream pringles !
The Div 3s were next, and the C1M first up with Daniel Weston taking 4th and Thomas Kent close behind in 6th. Amber Saunders competing in K1W, smashed her first run time by an incredible 19 seconds to leap from 9th to 1st, and thus securing her first win and 250 points …. Brilliant work Amber!! The ever impressive Rowan Yates took home 3rd and Chloe Wallace placed 6th ahead of her sister Emma in 9th. 30 paddlers battled it out in the K1M and a podium finish was secured for Angus van Winsum in 3rd, just ahead of Rufus Whittingham in 4th. Daniel Weston finished in 9th, two places higher than older brother Oliver in 11th , who in turn finished two places higher than Dad, Andrew in 13th. Thomas Kent placed 15th, Kunihito Watanabe 18th, Harry Godwin 23rd and Josh Harley Benton in 24th. The C1W saw 5 S&SCC paddlers competing, Lucy and Alice Williamson led from the start to take 1st and 2nd respectively….. Well done both !! Then, with a little hint of Bala Mills Deja-vu, Holly Scott finished in 4th, ahead of Emma Wallace in 5th and Chloe in 6th!
Last but not least Phillip Saunders paddled in the Div 4 K1M, a solid performance for his first outing on a man-made course secured 2nd place but sadly no promotion.
Saturday had run like clockwork and several times the tannoy rang out with apologetic messages urging paddlers to the start pool as the event was running ahead of time. By the end of a very wet and cold day’s racing Team Stafford & Stone were happy to head back to tents/vans/hotels to dry off and warm up.
Everyone was in for a treat on Sunday as local lad Etienne Stott completed several runs in K1 & C2 as an official, perhaps most will remember him as half of the winning duo at the 2012 London Olympics, taking gold in the C2 alongside Tim Baillie.
That wasn’t the only surprise that Cardington had in store for Team S&S that day, without knowing it the morning run would be the one that counted, the afternoon runs almost becoming null and void. By the completion of first runs, Paul Evans in Vets K1M was out in front, Gabe was holding onto 3rd in the Div 2 C1M, Daisy was sitting in 2nd in the C1W, Team Harratt were in the top C2 boat, Amber & Chloe were sitting in 1st & 2nd respectively in the Div 3 K1W, Scott Tuckley was in 2nd place in the Div 3 K1M and finally Lucy & Alice were sitting at the top in 1st & 2nd for the Div 3 C1W. At lunchtime, as happened on Saturday the water was turned off, and everyone went off to refuel and rest. With racing resuming at 2pm, all paddlers in the Vets, Div 2 C1M & K1W were confronted with a very different course for their second runs ! After the water had been turned back on the levels at the end of the course rose to create a strong current that pulled paddlers off to the left and into a concrete block, making gate 19 almost impossible! The impressive Viking CC quickly took action, and moved gate 18 further right to compensate. The affected groups of paddlers, who had already exhausted themselves fighting against this new challenge were offered the opportunity of a rerun which Gabe, Alice & Lucy gladly took. Unfortunately with the home club wanting to keep to the original schedule as much as possible, it meant all three paddlers had a very limited chance to rest. Gabe found himself doing his second K1M run and then jumping straight back on for the C1M re-run, whilst Lucy & Alice had to complete their third runs in K1W before summoning the strength for the Div 3 C1W second runs… Well done all three for keeping a sense of humour and energy levels high !!
So by end of play on a lovely and sunny Sunday, Stafford and Stone Canoe Club had fought hard and earned the following successes…. Paul Evans in 1st place in the Vets K1M. In Div 2 Gabe took 3rd in the C1M, in K1W Alice finished in 5th and Lucy in 7th, K1M saw Gabe in 9th, Adam in 19th and Dan in 24th and finally Daisy took 2nd in C1W. In the C2 event Steve & Rob matching their first run time despite the course twist to take 1st, just confirming what a talent we have here at the club…. Well done Team Harratt !! Moving on to the Div 3s and Thomas & Daniel taking 5th and 6th in the C1M. Amber claiming another 1st and 250 points in K1W, with Chloe stepping up for her first ever podium in 2nd place, and Emma demonstrating an amazing fighting spirit to finish in 15th. In K1M Scott and his first podium taking 2nd and a very useful 242 points, Oliver’s turn today to beat his younger brother, finishing in 5th, Ayden Coe in 7th, Daniel in 9th, Andrew in 11th, Thomas Kent & Calum Tonry in 13th & 14th and Josh in 23rd. A special mention to Kunihito, who was on an absolute flyer of a second run before catching the previous paddler, bringing his efforts to a swift halt. He was awarded a re-run and was one of the very few paddlers that afternoon to better their first run times to finish in 19th…. Amazing efforts Kunihito !! In C1W Lucy was another paddler who improved on the second run to claim 1st, just ahead of Alice in 2nd, Emma in 4th and Chloe in 5th. Last to go Phillip Saunders in Div 4 K1M, massively improving on his first run to take 8th.
For a ‘concrete ditch’ this was a very enjoyable weekend with fabulous spaces for camping, Stafford & Stone CC were certainly out in force and our paddlers and supporters running along cheering on their friends & team mates was lovely to see. Our usual massive thanks to our committed travelling race coaches Paul Evans & Steve Harratt and for the Div 3/4 paddlers, coaching assistant Gabe Rawlings-Crofts.
Word – Gemma Macklin
Pictures – Paul Evans