Major Herbert ‘Blondie’ Hasler OBE is a name that few people know, unless of course you are an avid canoeist, writes Max Carter-Keall.
Hasler was part of the secret Royal Marines Boom Patrol which undertook Operation Frankton during World War II, a mission in which he and his comrades paddled 85 miles upriver from occupied France to successfully blast enemy shipping.
‘Blondie’, named after his fierce blond mustache, has been awarded a Distinguished Service Order, an OBE and British Canoeing has named a series and trophy in his honour.
This competition, The Hasler Series, was recently held on September 25th at Runneymede Pleasure Ground, with Newbury Canoe Club competing for the very first time.
The Hasler Series itself is the UK national club championship in the sport of marathon canoeing, a form of long-distance canoe racing, governed by the Marathon Racing Committee and supported by British Canoeing.
Competitors race on flat water in nine divisions ranging from four, eight or 12 miles long in canoes or kayaks, all for their club’s opportunity to lift the Hasler Trophy.
Qualifying for this event is a tough journey, having to battle 24 other regional clubs across eight races.
Each paddler receives points for their finishing position in the races, 50 for the winner, 49 for the second, 48 for the third and so on.
The points of the top 12 paddlers from each club are added together and positions are then awarded, with 10 points awarded to the winning club up to one point for 10th place and beyond.
The resulting top five clubs qualify for the final, hosted this year by Wey Kayak Club and Addlestone Canoe Club.
Newbury performed admirably in the final, knocking out nine of 10 clubs in their region and finishing tenth out of 32.
Race team leader Paul Jackson attributes the clubs recent success to an influx of new members following the beginner courses held each year.
He said: “What a great achievement it was to reach the Hasler final this year.
“At the start of the year we set ourselves the long-term goal of reaching the final for the very first time, getting there on the first try was incredible.
“Thank you to everyone who raced this year.”
The club now has 83 members and anyone interested in getting involved can check out their website, Facebook page or email [email protected]