Conditions are right for a fast finish as canoeists face endurance test
10:00am Thursday 21st March 2013 in Latest News
The decades-old record for completing the 125-mile Devizes to Westminster canoe race could be smashed this Easter weekend as river conditions are forecast to be the fastest-flowing in years.
Richard Hendron and James King are being tipped to break the record, which was set in 1979 by Greenham and Cornish at 15 hours and 34 minutes. That year the flow on the River Thames was very fast and was only exceeded in 2000, when it was thought too hazardous for the race to continue.
Veteran race commentator Paul Ralph said this year’s race was wide open. He said: “Race favourites look like Matt Enoch and Adam Norfolk from Nottingham.”
But after Sunday’s Waterside D race from Devizes to Newbury, other crews have thrown down the gauntlet. James Keeble and Dan Seaford of the Reading Canoe Club, both previous winners, finished Sunday’s race first in 4:45:54 with Giel Spierings and Alex Van Truyl of Fowey and Richmond clubs, only five hundredths of a second behind.
Among the finishers in the junior race on Sunday were Conor Henley and Alex Little of Devizes Canoe Club, who came in sixth.
Kat Burbeck, the daughter of former Wiltshire Chief Constable Elizabeth Neville, was first in the ladies doubles with Shuna Braithwaite.
The Devizes to Westmin-ster canoe race is one of the most challenging endurance events in the world. The senior doubles crews will paddle the 125 miles non-stop.
Keith Bennett, who organises the Devizes start, said: “Non-stop means non-stop. No sleep and no rest. Eating and drinking entirely on the move. The fastest complete the course in about 17 hours.”