Symonds Yat- A Race Of Conditions, Not Positions!

This film gives a real sense of just how hard it was.

Arriving at Symonds Yat at 0845hrs, having driven through mist, fog and rain, the skies cleared and the days weather just got better every minute. A different story from the river.  As we got close to Symonds Yat we could see that rivers were high.  The Wye was no different, it was high, but the gates were up and people were already paddling.  

Keira on the challenging water

Keira got on for her C1 practice and the river more or less took her straight down.  She did work at the gates but the power of the water was very demanding and she wanted to reserve some energy for her runs.

The official first runs started and paddlers were missing many gates due to the force of the water.  Logs, trees, debris and two dead sheep were seen being washed down.  Several kayaks took hits from branches that I saw. One vet paddler I spoke to said that he went into a ‘trough’ and it was like the wave was six-feet- high and it just went dark on him, not seeing where he was or where he was going!

Keira’s canoe run was challenging, forced away from gate seven (as many others were), causing her to miss several other gates.

Isaac giving it absolutely everything.

Isaac paddled really well in his kayak but still the forces of the water proved extremely challenging. Gate nine, tucked in close to the bank was another force to be reckoned with.  A lot of paddlers had to spend a lot of time here trying to paddle hard enough to push their way through the up gate, not just the power of the water but bigger waves also.  But if 9 was tough, 17 took Isaac to his limits.  He battled tremendously hard to break this ‘demon’, eventually managing to get through the gates whilst they were swinging wildly and achieving an impressive run with only 3 touches. 

Theo keeping focused

Theo on the other had managed a quicker time than his brother but did incur a 50, the time saved battling the fast flow to get the gate, paid off this time. Run was good enough to secure him Top J12. 

Theo in his C1

He then was back on the river again, this time in his C1. He had the fastest time of all the C1 boys, but one more 50 than his closest rival left him in 2nd place. Under the circumstances a very impressive result. 

Theo with his hard earned C1 2nd and top J12

Andy Neave went down, but even with his experience and skill you could see the course was immensely challenging.  Gate 10, an up gate, was down-river of 11, and Andy had to expend a lot of energy getting through it, which he did, just about!

Harvey paddled down and worked really hard to get his gates.  Once again, gate 9 proved a massive challenge but with lots of encouragement from the bank, and immense effort he finally ‘broke through the force’ and got the gate.

Harvey making a splash

The river was still rising and there were calls for Judges to the control.

By the time of Keira’s K1 run, the island in the middle of the river was completely flooded.  Fighting to get through gates, she decided leave gate 7 as it was just too tough. The river took her away from 8 and she struggled to manage 9.  Using the flooded island, and paddling on the island, she took the scenic route to manage 10 relatively easily – in fact she and the rescue paddlers had quite a smile on their faces.

But conditions became so difficult and dangerous that the judges called off the second runs and cancelled Sunday’s event.  Surprisingly though, I only saw one person capsize, a C1M.

Full results are available HERE

Words and Pictures – Steve Pearce