Written by Julie Raworth
Photos courtesy of Richard Carter, Julie Raworth and Louise Donovan
If you have been taking a lazy Sunday morning stroll along the Kennett and Avon canal passing through Newbury in recent times you may have just come upon an influx of kayakers racing profusely past you. This is because the Newbury Canoe Club is running its annual Waterside Series event. It has been drawing lots of attention and curiosity from passers by enquiring with the volunteer marshalls as to what it is all about.
What is THE WATERSIDE SERIES?
Run by the Newbury Canoe Club, the Waterside Series consists of four Sunday races each spaced at fortnightly intervals starting 8 weeks before Easter.
Each series is progressively increasing in length from 13.5 miles to 35 miles.
Waterside A - February 12th Great Bedwyn to Newbury
Waterside B - February 26th Newbury to Aldermarston and back
Waterside C - March 12th Pewsey to Newbury
Waterside D - March 26th Devizes to Newbury
The Series attracts a diverse range of 200-500 paddlers from all over the UK, ranging from those liking a bit of a personal challenge to hardcore participants who are in training for the gruelling DW Devizes Westminster Canoe Race. This means you may well spot racers from the Great Britain Olympic team fly past and from the Forces as they deem this race a reflection of the values, discipline and commitment required of them.
With The Series being held on the Kennet and Avon Canal and finishing at the Newbury Waterside Centre it gives racers a great opportunity to familiarise themselves with the route, especially portaging (getting out and running around locks and low bridges).
You will see either individual or paired racers in K1's or K2's along with the occasional Canadian canoe.
What are K1's and K'2s?
Unlike the plastic leisure kayaks used to enjoy more leisurely adventures (because you are very unlikely to actually tip over) K1 & 2's are built for speed and are therefore a lot less stable to handle. A bit like a bicycle, it is neccesary to start paddling as a way to help the boat stay upright. Steering is done via a footplate and rudder (rather than the paddle) so that the body can be fully utilised for speed.
Those new to K1's will start with boats graded as more stable but less fast. Once technique is mastered in these, progression can be made into the faster, less stable boats. it is likely you will see a lot of these during the Waterside races. However a slightly more stable boat may be required for the DW as they head into London Thames.
It‘s success is virtue to the volunteering efforts of it’s members in marshalling the races.
Our last race of the series is on the morning of March 26th from Devizes to Newbury and you can watch those competing in the DW come through Newbury over the Easter weekend. Go to http://www.dwrace.co.uk/ for more info.
Anyone interested in getting into racing with the club can contact them via facebook or email.
If you are a complete beginner you will need to join one of the courses and start in the plastics to get you water safe first. You can soon progress to trying a K1's but it is advisable this is done in warmer weathers as there is a strong likelhood of tipping over!