by Charlie Martell, 24th April 2014

The Easter weekend once again saw the annual Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race (“DW”) take place. The race sees the senior doubles depart Devizes on Easter Saturday, heading down the avon & Kennett canal towards Reading. At Reading the crews have an enforced portage, prior to heading down the Thames towards Teddington. Crews must reach Teddington within the tide gate (30mins before high tide to 3hrs 30mins after high tide), or risk being stopped at Teddington until the next high tide.

Passing through Hungerford

Once again, I opted to undertake this gruelling endurance race in a folding kayak, commonly referred to as a Klepper. The ‘Klepper’ is a heavy, wide and slow beast of a kayak, not designed for racing, but designed for carrying equipment. It certainly adds an extra slant to the race, knowing that racing a klepper is probably the hardest thing to do in DW Race terms.
This year, five folding kayaks entered the race, with three actually taking part. One more than last year.
The conditions this year were a lot more favourable than last year (2013 sub zero temperatures were experienced), that said a persistent head wind and lack of flow made for another tough DW race.
For us, the race didn’t go according to plan. We were hoping to beat last year’s time of 26hrs 8 mins, but due to various issues including a time consuming but repairable technical issue, we managed to miss the tide gate, delaying our arrival at Westminster.

We did notice a number of slower crews in K2s deciding to retire from the race in the vicinity of Teddington. I realise they have their reasons, but Westminster is approximately a three hour paddle from Teddington… most, if not all kayaks could have reached Westminster with relatively little effort.
We continued to Westminster, rather than give up… arriving at 2210hrs on Easter Sunday, some 37hrs and 46 minutes after leaving Devizes. We finished!

Just been fed, ready for the off.

I extend my sincere thanks to our support crew, our supporters, the DW Race staff and those who very kindly donated to my chosen charities, Give Them a Sporting Chance and Talking 2 Minds.