Despite almost ideal conditions a quarter of the entries in the senior doubles section of the Devizes to Westminster canoe race were forced to retire before reaching the finish line at Westminster Bridge yesterday.

With Easter being later this year, the weather was warmer than last year’s race and the rain held off for most of the competitors. But the 125-mile race, described as the canoeists’ Everest, proved too much for 51 of the 208 competitors who paddle non-stop throughout the day and night.

Among them were Devizes crews Roger Heath and Gavin Wrobel, who retired after 14 and a half hours, Alexander Little and Roger Edwards, who pulled up after 16 hours 52 minutes and Steve and Sam New who gave up after 17 hours 22 minutes.

Kevin Crabb and Derek Tate managed 20 hours 12 minutes before retirement.

But other Devizes crews fared better.

Sam Weller and Steve Bush were the highest placed local crew, completing the course in 22 hours 12 minutes.

Neil King and Mark Bouch finished in 23.36 and Ray Clements and Jonpaul McCourt in 23.45, while Andrew Sanigar and Steve Kelly made it in 25.56.

Kevin Dobson and Paul Papworth-Smith also completed the course in 25.45. Paul Sykes and Simon Woddy crossed the line in 27.20.

The race was won by Ryan Pearce and Michael Southey of the Fowey River Canoe Club in 17.23, with Daniel Beazley and James Smythe of Leaside CC second in 17.55 and Steve and Rob King of Hereford CC third in 18.15.

Olympic gold medal rower Ben Hunt-Davis finished in 13th place with his crewmate Matthew Parish, of the Richmond Canoe Club. The last time the duo attempted the DW, in 2012, they didn’t make it past Reading.

Sadly, in the senior singles, the oldest man in the race, 71-year-old Bob Norbury of Burbage, was forced to retire after 15 hours 51 minutes.