A small team of seven paddlers from Bishop’s Stortford Canoe Club were among 188 participants from across the country who flocked to Cambridge for the first Hasler Canoe Marathon race of 2022.
After two years of interrupted racing, no less than 20 clubs took advantage of this unusually early start to the Hasler season on Sunday February 13, with many of the top flatwater racing clubs represented.
Although few in number – with even fewer (four) managing to complete their races – the Stortford team gave their all on the River Cam, with one gold and one silver with spectacular individual results.
In Section 9, Thomas Barton had a self-described awful start, but after making the tight turn at the first buoy, he recovered to catch up with the leaders.
From then on, he and three other paddlers – two from Chelmsford and one from Leighton Buzzard’s canoe clubs – remained in close competition until round two at Grantchester and back. All four sprinted across the line with just a second between them, with Thomas in the golden position, completing the 7km in 39 minutes 58 seconds.
Also in Division 9, Jaroslav Klumpler (42:13) showed how much he has improved over the winter finishing just 2:15 behind Tom to take 8th place out of 21 entrants.
In the Division 7 race on the same 7km course, Edward Kirtland took second from the start line and held it all the way, but with a Norwich paddler on his tail all the way. He too had to sprint for the line to clinch silver in a close final (39:47).
Also in this race were jack gaulton and Thomas Holloway, both racing in Division 7 for the first time, following promotions from Division 9 at Chelmsford last October. Jack finished a very comfortable 7th in 43:22. Thomas got off to a great start and was fine at turn one but had to retire with an injury.
Stortford’s only paddlers on the 14km course, Kerstin Queeney and Mark Adamsalso suffered an injury after a promising start and had to retire.
Whenever paddlers from different regions compete together, there is usually a lot of movement between divisions as the gaps between regions are leveled out. Perhaps for this reason it proved impossible to calculate the promotions of the day, and as this affects the points awarded, the Hasler scores of the six Eastern Region clubs present did not could be announced.
As only four BSCC paddlers finished the race out of an already small squad of seven, it seems highly likely that Stortford will find themselves in last place.
BSCC were far better represented in the Geoff Sanders Under-14 competition, where their five-paddled squad were matched only by local Cambridge side.
The youngsters found the start of the race very difficult as they headed into a strong breeze, but it paid off on the way back with the wind at their backs.
Libby Gaulton put in another great performance to take first place in Division B (40:41) and was the fastest girl on the 3km course. Kirtland Jasper was 5th (49:35).
Olivier Klumpler won the club’s other Geoff Sanders medal with second place in Division A (57:18). In section C, Rupert Kirtland was fifth (58:40) and Emilie Klumpler sixth (59:17).
The next race, the third in the Eastern Region Hasler Marathon series, will be in Bedford on May 1.
* Bishop’s Stortford Canoe Club is based on the River Stort just south of the town and is affiliated with British Canoeing, the sport’s governing body. It was created in 1972 and has about 90 members. The club specializes in flat water marathon and sprint races.
The Hasler Marathon series is organized by British Canoeing. Regional events take place throughout the year; Bishop’s Stortford competes in the Eastern Region Series.
At each event, the races are held in divisions of 9 (novice) to 1 (elite). Paddler divisions are determined by their ability – promotions/demotions may occur during the series. Typical distances are 12 miles (divs 1, 2, and 3), 8 miles (divs 4-6), and 4 miles (divs 7-9), and usually involve multiple portages where paddlers must haul their boats between courses. water or around obstacles such as locks.
Kayaks (K1) and canoes (C1) compete in singles races. There are separate races for double boats (K2 and C2). Points are awarded to each paddler in each race and the scores of the top 12 team members are added together to give each club’s overall score.
Running alongside the Hasler Marathons is the separate series of Geoff Sanders Short Races (approximately 2 miles) for under-14s, ranked primarily by performance in Divisions A (fastest), B and C.