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Newbury paddlers win team trophy at Devizes to Westminster race

From Saturday afternoon 30 March 2024 through to the early hours of the following morning, three K2 crews of Newbury paddlers took on the gruelling non-stop challenge of the infamous Devizes to Westminster race. With all three crews coming in the top ten and placing in various sub categories, they stole the ultimate trophy of top team!


The DW starts in Devizes, Wiltshire, and finishes at Westminster Bridge in central London, opposite the Houses of Parliament. Taking place over the Easter Weekend, it's a gruelling course, 125 miles long and includes 77 portages. The Senior Doubles Class races non-stop, other classes race over 4 days.


Team trophy for the 3 fastest senior doubles crews

1st Newbury Canoe Club

Senior doubles

4th Treadgold/Hayes

7th Burt/Bird

9th Whitehead/Richman

Senior doubles vet (over 35)

1st Treadgold/Hayes

3rd Burt/Bird

5th Whitehead/Richman

Senior doubles mixed (male/female)

2nd Burt/Bird

Senior double century (both paddlers over 50)

1st Whitehead/Richman

Teams and starting support crews

Paul Hayes and James Treadgold Mike Richman and Rob Whitehead Rebecca Bird and Alex Burt

With the course passing through Newbury and the club running the Waterside series as a training preperation for the DW it is natural for Newbury paddlers to give the DW a go. Even through this winter's excessive rainfall and fast flow it makes regular training easily accessible which was an advantage to the team who came from a vast array of paddling experience, from a former Team GB slalom paddler to an almost novice who learned to paddle less than two years ago. the team. With 14 DW senior doubles finishes, and four finishes in the stages or four day races the team brought experience to the race.


There had been some recent trepidation as to whether the race itself would even go ahead due to a low uptake of paddlers following months of uncertainty caused by heavy rainfall and fast flow. However, the paddling community pulled together and raised an amazing £32,500 to ensure it continued. Unfortunately though, at 2am on Sunday morning the DW announced that the Thames was on red flags, meaning the Port of London Authority wouldn't allow the race to continue to Westminster and paddlers would have to finish at Teddington. This did not stop our crews from paddling on, and two of them arrived at Teddington together.

All three teams started hours apart at Devizes in order to hit the tideway at Teddington shortly after 6am. All seemed in good spirits with well prepared cars full of supplies and support crews poised to chase them along the banks with food, drinks and various energy concoctions (all legal!).

This was not just a test for the paddlers but also for the support crews who drove throughout the night, synchronising with each other to ensure swift and efficient pit stops. The team also included Kieran who found it near on impossible to cycle behind as he collected layers of mud in his tyres and me with my camera, trying to time it so I was ahead of at least two of the crews to catch them.

As the dust settles, paddlers have had time to reflect on their experience. You can find a personal account from Rob Whitehead of his DW experience here.


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