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Race information

The success of The Waterside Series relies heavily on all paddlers, support crews, marshalls and organisors to abide by the rules and guidance set out below. Please ensure you familiarise yourself with this information.

Race rules

Race rules

1. Every crew must have entered ( online or in person ) and have paid the appropriate entry fee, before they will be allowed to start.

2. All competitors must be able to swim 50 meters in canoeing clothing.

3. All competitors must be members of the BC or approved National Associations either as Junior, Young Persons or Adult. Each paddler must provide proof of such membership before he or she will be allowed to start. Membership of BC affiliated Club with a Registered Youth Section is acceptable for those representing that School, College or Club.


Suggestion: Screen Print/Capture the BC online membership registration page whilst showing the expiry date. Note that internet
connection may not be possible at some start locations so best performed before arriving at the start.

4. Buoyancy aids are compulsory for all junior paddlers (regardless of the class entered), and are strongly recommended for all other paddlers. Paddlers over 18 who do not wish to wear a buoyancy aid can race in the senior classes. Buoyancy aids must be worn in the K2J, K1J and JV (junior paddler) classes. Spot checks may be made by race officials to enforce this rule. See also rule 23.

Buoyancy Aids. Junior competitors must wear an Integral Foam Buoyancy aid or lifejacket offering the wearer a minimum 50 Newton of inherent buoyancy and conforming to one of the following European standards: EN 393 or EN 395 or ISO12402-5 or ISO12402-6. The EN standard must be clearly displayed via a label attached by the manufacturer.

Buoyancy aids or lifejackets are not acceptable under any circumstance if:-

  • They only display certification to BA83.

  • Require partial or total inflation by mouth, or by the use of a compressed air/gas cylinder.

  • Appear to be more than five years old.

  • Have been subjected to heavy use thus degrading their flotation value

  • Have been tampered with or modified in any way

  • Failure to comply with this rule will result in disqualification.

5. All competitors must obtain their race number and sign the Attendance Register at Race Control at the start of each race. The race number must be mounted vertically on the boat throughout the race. Any boat which is not displaying a number when it crosses the finishing line may not be timed. Race numbers must be returned to Race Control at the finish of each race.
The Attendance Register is now very important as it is a direct means of contacting your Support Crew in cases of emergancey
or missed contact / retirement queiries highlighted by/to Race control - See also rule 21 i)

6. Age categories are as follows :-

  • Juniors must be aged under 19 on 1st January preceding the race.

  • Veterans must be aged over 35 on 1st January preceding the race.

  • K1 Veteran Masters must be aged over 50 on 1st January preceding the race.

  • A crew qualifies for the Junior/Veteran class if one crew member is a Veteran, and the other is a Junior.

Please notify the organiser of ANY entrant below the age of 16. ( This is so we can verify the Support Crew arrangements
and establish the competency of the young paddler to undertake the challenges entering into The Waterside Series. )
Within the above restrictions, crews may choose which class to enter.

7. A Junior Team comprises of between 3 and 8 paddlers, with at least 3 boats, from any class, provided that all paddlers are under 19. Schools team members must be a full time enrolled person at the school or college being represented.

8. A Senior Team comprises of between 3 and 8 paddlers, with at least 3 boats, from any class. A Senior Team may include one or more junior crews.

9. The members of the Team must be nominated on the specific form before the start of the Series, after which no changes to the membership of the Team will be allowed. Crew pairings, within the nominated team members, may change and K1s can race instead of K2s. In each race, 3 boats, paddled by nominated team members must finish to qualify for the team event.
Team Nomination Forms must be handed to the organisers before the closure of race control at the START of Waterside A.


10. The Team time is calculated by adding up the times of the Team's fastest three boats at each race.

11. Competitors in the Canadian classes (12 & 13) must use a single bladed paddle and their boats must not have a rudder.

12. Boats will be started at half minute intervals. Competitors may start (or join the queue waiting to start) at any time within the time limits published for each race, but it is the competitor's responsibility to ensure that they complete the course before the Finish Control is closed. Any competitor who starts or finishes before/after the stated times will not qualify for any Race award.

13. Competitors and their support crews must comply with instructions given by Race Officials, the pre-race safety briefing, or during the course of the race.

Failure to obey the instructions of a Race Official will result in a TIME PENALTY for each offence. For more serious offences, competitors may be DISQUALIFIED. The Race Committee has absolute discretion in such matters.
Note: Road Crossing Marshals have NO right to stop vehicles on the highway. Therefore crews are likely to be held for short periods until it is safe to continue.

14. No outside assistance is to be given to any competitor, except for minor feeding of crews, or for safety reasons.


a) West Mills Swing Bridge on the western approach to Newbury is a COMPULSORY PORTAGE. Crews must portage the bridge on the right hand bank, then paddle on to Newbury Lock and portage the lock. COMPETITORS WHO PORTAGE ACROSS THE BRIDGE WILL BE DISQUALIFIED. ( If your carrying a damaged boat – progress along the raod with care until the main ‘High Street’ next to Lloyds Bank, with care cross over the canal and follow the towpath to the finish line – get in before the finishline if possible).

b) Bulls Lock (Race B) has a LOW swing bridge just before the lock (on the way out). Canal and River Trust have installed a landing stage on river right. This bridge is now a COMPULSORY PORTAGE (out & back). The Lock is then situated 50m from the bridge.
Competitors who paddle under these bridges (or through the bridge when open), will have a TWO MINUTE PENALTY added to their race time.


16. THE SAVERNAKE TUNNEL ( Also know as Bruces tunnel)

  • Overtaking to gain a race advantage is strickly not allowed and will be penaised.

  • Overtaking SLOWER Crews (however slow) is strickly not allowed and will be penaised.

  • Assistance to Capsized crew or crews in the water is a propriety.

  • Passing a crew with the sole purpose of raising the alarm to the Marshals is permitted, communicate and agree this with others in attendance.

  • Passing a crew which is being assisted/recovered by other crew(s) or by Marshalls/safety boat is at the discretion of those assisting the rescue.

  • Communicate and assist those around you – especially if you are held back and are unstable or disorientated.

  • There is NO support crew parking ( except to recover retiring crews )

  • Crews held by marshals because of Canal traffic navigating the tunnel will have have their held time deducted – Let the marshals know your number on arrival.

17. Canal and River Trust strongly recommend that all competitors wear a buoyancy aid and have a whistle and waterproof torch attached to the buoyancy aid while paddling through the Savernake Tunnel.

18. At the turning point for Race B, it is essential that the marshal's instructions are followed, in order to avoid impeding other competitors. (See Rule 13).


19. All crews who have finished all four races are eligible for Series awards, K2 and C2 paddlers must have had the same partner
for the whole series.

20. Every effort is made to present Prize giving as close to the end of the Finish Window as Possible. A short delay will exist for any Protests to be filed with Race Control. Protests after this time will be investigated but no guarantee is given to any results change. Protests must be presented on the official form available from Race Control.

21. The following rules apply equally to competitors and their support crews.

a) Competitors and their support crews must show courtesy and consideration to other towpath users. Any trespassing, nuisance or damage caused by competitors or their support crews can lead to a crew’s DISQUALIFICATION.
b) All competitors and support crews must use public toilet facilities or those provided by the organisers. This is particularly important in the villages along the course. Specific complaints have been received about using the towpath as a toilet at Pewsey Wharf. Any competitor or support crew doing this and recognised can be DISQUALIFIED.
c) Support vehicles must show courtesy and consideration to local residents and other road users, both while driving and when parking.
d) The start area at Great Bedwyn (Race A) is very sensitive. Competitors and support crews must restrict themselves to the towpath and the car park. This applies to paddlers and support crews. Toilets are available in the Village Hall and in the Wharf Carpark.
e) Little Bedwyn: No parkng for support crews. Little Bedwyn is completely out of bounds for All races
f) There is NO support parking at Burbage Wharf due to the dangerous road bend an close proximity of the bridges.
g) Vehicles must not stop on the road by the bridge at Pewsey Wharf, even for unloading. Please park at St Francis School or where indicated by race signs or marshals. Parking at the school is reserved for Competitors only and any cars without Canoe or Kayak will be advised of alternative parking. A drop off area will be reserved close to the School entrance on the Main Road ( Please take care while unloading ) ALSO for Race D, DO NOT park on the road but DO park at the Wharf or School carparks.
h) The land between the canal and the river at Bulls Lock (Race B) is private property, portaging into the river at this point involves trespassing, and is a cause of friction with anglers. Competitors must not use the river at this point.
i) Support crews must supply/confirm a telephone contact number for the day and car registration at Check-in for EACH race.
j) Rail crossings – either by Vehicle or Pedestrian must be taken with care – abide by all notices.
k) To reduce support crews at Hampstead Marshal – Only Junior crew Support Crews to attend here.

22. Newbury CC Refund policy:

a) If Newbury Canoe Club Cancel the Series or an individual race, a refund will be given at NCC’s discretion.
b) If for any reason a paddler(s) withdraws from 1 or more races after an entry has been accepted, no refund will be given - a change of Class, Crew or Race will be permitted.

23. Boat Buoyancy: Random checks will be made at the start of each race as per MRC rule 5) a) i).

24. All disposable drinking systems must be collected/retrieved by a crew’s support crew.

25. The decision of the Race Committee on all matters is final.

26. We have introduced online Entry System, as used by the Marathon Racing Committee for many other events including the Hasler events. We qualify to use this as Waterside Series pay race levies and is a group A event and is run under the BC Marathon Racing committee rules. The online System also collects and appropriate race entry fee.

27. Use of the MRC Entry System for Junior Entries assumes parental consent, as Payment has to made via a Payment Card of
some description which requires Adult authorisation to set up. Any Postal/Late entries use the Paper Entry form and require
a wet signature of a Parent/Guadian.

Paddling etiquette

•  Canoeing is a non contact sport.
•  Paddlers must race in a fair manner at all times.
•  It is the duty of overtaking craft to keep clear of others at all times.
•  If you see any crew in safety related difficulties it is your absolute duty to help them.


Core principle

No paddler is more or less important than any other.

On the waters rules

  • Faster paddlers should think and look ahead.

  • Slower crews should expect to be overtaken and thus paddle “off centre” to allow a bigger space on one side or crews to pass.

  • If passing a crew then it is perfectly Ok to ask “Move left K2” or advise them “Coming past on your  left” or the like. You find the form of words. If you are able to find the breath, it should include a “Please” and certainly a “Thank You” afterwards. This should be done in a friendly, non aggressive manner.

  • There will be times when there are 2 or 3 or more boats across the canal. On these occasions, the fast boats will need a little patience and must not barge through. In general, the slower crews want to be helpful and will make room. But remember, their skill level is not as great as yours so don’t 
    expect rapid instant responses. Indeed, your wash might cause them problems.

  • All crews should avoid paddling alongside other crews, perhaps even chatting and not noticing what is going on around them. This severely limits the space available for overtaking crews. If you are doing this then make sure there is a bigger space on one side to allow crews past, with minimum inconvenience to both you and the overtaking crew.

  • If you are going to approach a portage at the same time as slower paddlers, the faster paddlers should slightly inconvenience themselves and get out early or slow down a little. They should make allowances and not expect the slower crews to “get out of their way”. You are faster and “better” so adapt. This also applies to other features such as low bridges and narrow bridges.

  • Slower paddlers need to be aware of what is going on around them. Where possible, steer a straight  line and don’t zig‐zag across the canal. If asked, please move across to allow crews to pass. If you are having ifficulties then politely advise the others of this.

  • All crews should have checked their boat and ensured it has a working rudder. Unless you have broken it in that race lamely saying “our rudder doesn’t work” and crashing into other boats is not acceptable.



Moving water

Although the Watersides are on a canal which is essentially stationary water there are times (Waterside B) hen river sections with significant flow are encountered. On these occasions thinking ahead is essential for all paddlers. This is because things happen faster on the moving water.

  • Downstream paddlers should aim to keep in the middle.

  • Upstream paddlers should aim to keep close to the bank.

Paddlers going in opposite directions

Waterside B is unique in that crews pass each other going in opposite directions due to the out and back nature of the course. This means that there will be a lot of wash and sometimes confusion. The river rules of downstream in the middle, upstream at the sides apply.

In addition, all paddlers need to think ahead to ensure they are in the right place at all times, especially going round corners and bends.

Know your boat and be realistic about your boat handling skills. Act and steer accordingly.

Portages and Portaging

The On the Water rules described above can equally be applied to portages. In this case it is more important to be aware of what is happening around you. It’s quite easy to see what’s in front but harder to know what is coming from behind. I

f you are able, a slower crew should have a quick glance behind when coming in to a portage. Then you’ll know if a fast racing snake is going to rush 

Talk to those around you. If two boats approach at the same time, the one behind might say “you go short, we’ll go long”. Don’t leave it too late to utter this though. Should a crew mess up a little on this, there is no need to clamber over a crew to get out.

Some other pointers for portaging:

  • Once at the bank, as quickly as you can, get out, get the boat out and move away. Do not linger with the boat in the water ‐ you are blocking others from getting out.

  • Keep your paddles close to the boat. Do not leave them across the towpath. They could get trodden on and broken or trip someone up.

  • If you need a rest before walking/running to the other end, then do so in an out of the way position.

  • When running or walking the portage, NEVER stop on a road. Get across the road to allow the traffic to flow.

  • Faster crews should shout polite warnings if passing others when running. For example “fast boat coming through on the right” is useful if the slow crew has the boat on their right shoulders and can’t see you. Always say “thank you” or “cheers guys” or some such afterwards.

  • When you get to the other end, reverse the getting out process. Put the boat in and get in it as quickly as you can and then move away.

  • If you are stopping for a rest, food or drink before getting in then make sure your boat, paddles and support crew are not obstructing anyone. Do this away from the canal edge.

  • All paddlers should make every effort to avoid contact with other boats, paddles, paddlers and support crew..

  • Never put the boat in and then step away or stand having food and drink. You are blocking others from using the portage. (And your boat might drift off.).

  • Please avoid putting your boat in, getting in and then sitting there having food and drink. If there is lots of space this may be permissible but if the get in is limited then don’t do it.

  • Faster crews should not expect others to instantly “get out of the way”. The faster crews should adapt. Actually, the very good crews are able to do this naturally and do not have problems or later complaints about their behaviour.



Some pointers for Support Crews

  • Keep the support crew numbers down. You only need 1 person to feed 1 paddler. Perhaps 1 person to be at the get out and run/walk with the crew and then the 2 feeders. The rest should remain away from the action.

  • Unless the towpath is very wide do not run alongside your crew. This could block the space available for an overtaking crew.

  • Never get between your crew’s or any other crew’s boat and the water at the get in of a portage. The result is normally a wet supporter.

  • Be very aware of what is going on around you. You need to avoid blocking the towpath at all times. 

  • In particular, faster crews are not expecting you to be standing in the way. That said don’t make sudden unpredictable movements to get out of the way. If you do accidently find yourself in someone’s way it is safest for everyone if you stand still and allow the fast people to go round you.

  • Know your crew’s speed and plan your support accordingly.

  • Do not arrive at a portage and set up an elaborate picnic 30 minutes before your crew is due to arrive. You’ll be in someone’s way. If you have a basket, tray, carrier or just bottles and are not going to stand holding them put them down out of the way so they do not get trodden on.

  • Don’t assume where your crew will be able to get in – you may need to adapt.You can feed your crew as they run/jog or as they get in. You need to find the system that works best for them.

  • What you must never do is get them to put the boat in and then stand for ages chatting and nibbling. Indeed, when thinking about DW, this is where significant time is lost.

  • Feeders should wait near the get in away from the canal. You should be looking in the direction your crew will come from. This way you can see other crews coming and make sure you are not in their way. Only step forward when your crew actually arrive. Feed, then move back out of the way.

  • If your crew must rest or feed out of the water then stand out of the way. Keep the noise down.

  • Park legally and considerately. If this means walking further so be it. Provided you have planned ahead you’ll have enough time to get to the places to support.

  • Know the course – get the right maps and study them.

  • Minimise the number of cars in your support team. You can support DW non‐stop with 1 car. 2 vehicles are probably better but not 4 big 4x4s. Even the very fastest crews can be supported on Watersides successfully with 1 car.

  • If supporting on a mountain bike, then be extra careful. You could be blocking the portage for others. Trying to feed someone sat in a boat whilst standing over a bike isn’t easy and might result in an injury to you, your paddler or others.

  • Never support with a dog.


Paddling etiquette

Support crew etiquette

The future of the Waterside Series depends upon support crews behaving in a responsible manner and respecting road users, pedestrians and those that live in the small villages along the route. It cannot be emphasised enough how critical it is that support crews respect those that live and work along the Kennet and Avon canal route of the Waterside Series.


Congestion and the poor behaviour of support crews in the Wiltshire & Berkshire villages along the route is the single biggest source of complaints about the Waterside Series and is the reason we limit the number of entries and have to write documents such as this one!

• Do everything possible to limit the number of vehicles that support each crew. 1 vehicle per crew is all that is normally needed.
• Do not block driveways and access at any time
• Do not restrict other road users in any way
• Do as you are instructed by the Waterside Marshals
• Do not park in restricted (coned or otherwise signed) areas
• Park on the road, not on the grass verges – which in time destroys them.

On the Towpath

Remember these are serious races for many competitors

• Be aware of crews that are racing do not stand on the main towpath at portages
• Feeding/fuelling of crews can be done as they portage but if your crew stops move off the main portage route
• Try to limit the numbers of support crew that are present on or alongside the portages where competitors are running with boats. Do not idle on the racing line.
• Do not bring pets with you to the water’s side whilst supporting your crew.


Support and assist those that need it

• Support and encourage all crews – it means a lot on the longer races
• If crews appear to be in difficulty ask if they need help
• Know your crews speed and time your arrival at feeding stations etc.
• If your crew retire you must let the race organisers know
• At the check in give a support crew mobile no. to the Race Organisers

Local Community

Respect those that live on or near the canal and along the minor roads you use
during the race
• Behave towards the local community as you would expect to be treated at or near your home
– Be polite and considerate
• Do not block access to, or park on private property
• Do not litter – take all wrappers, bottles etc away with you
• Allow those going about their daily business to travel along the roads

Support crew etiquette
Marshalling briefing
Anchor 1
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