It was a large group of S&SCC paddlers who made the short trip to Ironbridge last weekend. Nigel Evans and his team had done a sterling job setting up the course and getting everything ready for the racing, no mean feat at Jackfields. Racing was for Division 2 & 3 and the course was set appropriately, but heavy rain in Wales in the week has made its way down the River Seven and the level had risen over Friday night. This made some of the moves particularly tricky. As mentioned we had a large group from the club with paddlers at all levels, representing the Vets in K1 were: Steve Harratt, Andy Neave, Pete Appleton, Darren Ship, Andrew Roden & Gareth Cooper with Gareth and Steve both doing C2 with Robert Harratt. In Div 2 K1W we had Alana Middleton, Kiera Pearce, Millie Austin, Brooke Benson & Jessica Croome. Div2 K1M were Harry Kirby, Jack & Harry Evans, Ashley Holmes, Harvey Pit and Finley Croome. In Div3 K1 we had Sebastian and Amelia White, C1 Div2 was Keira Pearce and Div3 Brooke Benson and finally Isobel Mockett was competing as a judge.
For some the course was fine, for some it was a real challenge and a massive step up from anything they had done before. But everyone overcame any fear they had and got on with the racing.
As we had so many paddlers I’ve opted to just write about the highlights from the weekend, but recognising that everyone paddled really well and did themselves and the club proud. The star of Saturday has to Harry Kirby, his first run was good, clean and left him in 4th place, he was back on the water at lunch time practicing and honing the moves and when he did his second run he managed to improve by an impressive seven seconds, again clean and securing him 1st place and promotion to Div1. He was rightly very happy with himself and a massive congratulations from all of us.
Alana Middleton was looking good on her first run taking 1st place, unfortunately for her she couldn’t improve her time on run two. But Keira Pearce who after run one was sat in 9th place, fourteen seconds behind Alana, managed an amazing second run, clean and an unbelievable 21 seconds faster! This super effort paid off as she came 1st. Maybe it was Issy’s amazing biscuits, but whatever it was it worked. Fantastic result Kiera.
In Div3 Amelia White first run went well, but unfortunately on her second run she had a swim. It didn’t matter as her first run was good enough to put her in 2nd place and gained her promotion to Div2. Which she handled very well on the Sunday despite the scare of a swim the day before.
Team Harratt dominate C2 all weekend, with Steve and Rob winning Saturday and Rob and Gareth repeating the success on Sunday.
Brooke Benson managed 2nd place on Saturday in her C1 with a few 50’s, the winner had also missed some gates so it showed how tricky the course was. On Sunday a determined Brooke set off and with just a few touches she set an impressive time that couldn’t be beaten and took the win with a 30sec advatage. Amazing work!
Sunday saw a few more clouds in the sky and the fret of showers, but it didn’t dampen the spirits. All those a little nervous, were more confident having got a days racing under their belts as they got to grips with another challenging course. Helped a little by the small drop in river level. Alana made it clear what she was out to do with a stunning first run, coming 1st and six seconds ahead of second place. Her second run wasn’t so good, but it didn’t matter as she had set the goal so high on her first go and Kiera hadn’t had her Wheatabix. This meant Alana had got that all important third win and promotion to Div1.
For the boys it was Finley Croome’s turn to shine, run 1 was OK, but a couple of touches left him in 9th place. Some practice at lunch time and more time focusing payed off as he manage a clean second run and 8 second improvement moving him up to 3rd place, his first Div2 podium.
As always it is so rewarding to see all the children (and adults) in all divisions trying their hardest, giving it their best and supporting and cheering their competitors.
For Jessica Croome and Amelia (on Sunday) it was their first time racing in Div2. Despite both finishing at the bottom of the score sheet they had both given it everything and on their second runs both had tried so hard, with Jess determined to paddle back up the rivers to not get a 50 on one gate. This effort left her exhausted and she then struggled with the last few gates.
Amelia had also had a bad run and both girls crossed the finish line in tears. Frustrated and beating themselves up over a poor run they were both stars at the get out with another competitor sobbing their hearts. When in fact they had all had a brilliant weekend and should be so proud of what they had achieved. Something that Kiera was there to say immediately as she crossed the line and went straight to the girls to hug, encourage and cheer them up. It’s so nice to see the older ones looking after the young paddlers.
Words – Adrian Croome
Photos – Steve Pearce