ORGANISERS of the Devizes to Westminster canoe race, due to set off from Devizes Wharf on Good Friday, are closely watching water levels along the 125-mile race route.

Other canoe races along the Kennet and Avon Canal have been cancelled due to high water levels, including the first of the Waterside series, due to take place last Sunday, and Thameside 1, scheduled for this coming Sunday.

The latter is a race in which entrants for the DW prepare for what is being called the canoeists’ Everest.

Peter Hutchison of the DW canoe race committee said: “While these cancellations are separate to organising DW, the conditions on the K&A and the Thames are being closely monitored.

“With regards to any impact on the race, it’s the conditions in the week leading up to it that affect it, so no decision will be made until much closer and probably only in the week leading up to it.

“So we have about 45 days or so of weather to pass before that becomes an issue.

“The great thing about canoeing is the sense of community. With the cancellation of Waterside A, alternative events were organised in parts of the country where rainfall and flooding had less impact.

“Norwich Canoe Club set up an 18km time trial. I’m not sure how many made the journey up there, but the gesture speaks volumes.”

A spokesman for the Canal and River Trust, which took over from British Waterways in managing the country’s canals last year, said the Kennet and Avon Canal is susceptible to high water levels because it is connected to the two rivers, the Kennet and the Avon.

He said: “The rivers are draining the rain water to the sea but because of the high rainfall we have had there is more of a danger on this canal than on others in the country of high water levels.”

The international DW canoe race has become increasingly popular with Olympians like Sir Steve Redgrave and James Cracknell taking part.

Last year’s race was the coldest on record and a third of senior competitors failed to complete the course.

As Easter is later this year, it is hoped the weather will be warmer, although the chances of rain are thought to remain high.