After regrettably having to cancel the 3rd slalom due to the terrible weather a few weeks earlier it was a bit worrying for the crew who set the course on Saturday with a very high river. Praying the forecast was correct and the river would drop to an acceptable level on Sunday, we took the decision to run the race. Thankfully we were lucky and we arrived to a perfect level for a final challenging course. Harry Ship had set a tricky course for the final race of this years series. Something a little different and it gave everyone a chance to try different lines and work out what was the best route for them. The course and faster river conditions didn’t put off our younger Div3/4 paddlers who took it in their stride and all did so well, getting to grips with the challenge that had been set. It’s good to see the next generation is coming along well and will be working their way up the rankings over the next few months.
Despite the cold we couldn’t have asked for a better day. The sun was out and the predicted strong winds didn’t arrive. We were pleased to have 65 boats enter the final race, a little lower than we had hoped but under the circumstances still a good turn out. Div 4 to prem paddlers took to the river and slogged it out, with some very impressive performances. The younger paddlers enjoyed watching how the more experienced try the trickier options on the gates, showing them what is possible.
The last race of the series always finishes with the final top 10 shoot out. After a few minutes of number crunching the top 10 paddlers across all three races are lined up for one last single run to determine the overall Mini Slalom champion of 2020. We were obviously pleased that 8 out of the 10 finalists came from S&SCC, but is was good to have HPP taking the last two spots. The pressure was mounting as they sat at the start line. Going in reverse order with Pete Appleton commentating, they were off. The added pressure appeared to have no effect, in fact quite the opposite, with most of the final 10 improving on their best time from earlier in the day.
After all the excitement it was into the clubhouse where it was a pleasure to be joined by the Mayor of Stone for the prize giving. First the prizes for individual classes, then the Final 10 and then a mug for each of the paddlers who attended all three races. Congratulations to everyone who raced and especially to Finley Croome who managed to win all three races and the final.
Full results can be viewed here.
I hope everyone who attended any of this years races had a good time and would join me in thanking Pete Appleton and John Homer for their tireless effort arranging the races. The catering team who did an amazing job keeping us fed and warm. Everyone who helped with one of the many jobs from judging to course construction. We would like to remind you that it isn’t long before our Div3/4 race on the 14th, 15th March and if we don’t see you there, we look forward to seeing you next year for Mini Slalom 2021!
Words – Adrian Croome
Photos – Steve Pearce