First Race for Devizes to Westminster hopefuls

Ben, Nell, Cameron, Daniel Last year was the first year that a number of Seaford students took on the gruelling Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race, an intense 125 mile paddle over 4 days, ending at Westminster Bridge in London. It’s a huge challenge that requires months of endurance training, and huge mental focus.

Inspired by last year’s paddlers, this year Seaford has a larger number of pupils who are looking to take on the challenge. Once again, Charles Lunt and Bill Marks, who trained last year’s pupils, have kindly offered to take on their training.

Up until now, the training has been about getting use to paddling, generating strength, but last weekend they took part in a Hare and Hounds race, the first that the paddlers had taken part in, and Charles Lunt reported on their progress for us.

“What a fantastic effort by all the paddlers, with some notable performances from everyone, but particularly from Dylan for the unexpected performance of the day, and from Daniel, Cameron and Tor for their perseverance. Bill and I were delighted with the top three K2s times so well done to Ben and Nell, James D and Ollie, and James H and Toby. We were so pleased with such a strong and secure performance.

As a coaching team, we were very impressed by the mental strength shown by all the paddlers, as this distance, 6 miles, was substantially further than any of the team had paddled before!

Today, however, is a small stepping stone towards this huge challenge… It’s important for the pupils to keep up the same strong commitment, focus and perseverance, as every step now gets bigger. Rather than thinking about the 125 miles at the end, we will just focus on the next target in training.”

Many thanks to Debbie Chadwick, who took these excellent photos of the paddler’s!

Charles also had an extra special thanks to a number of last year’s paddlers, who have been supporting the pupils this year by offering their thoughts, advice, and helping with training. Seaford pupils are often keen to give back to the school, community, and help their fellow pupils, and the fact that so many of last year’s paddlers are getting up early at the weekends to do this is one that should be lauded.

“They really are our extra eyes and ears, and never cease to provide us with invaluable information and feedback. Today, they took to their bicycles to support, encourage and coach the paddlers during the race, and allowed us to discuss elements that we had been unable to watch. A huge thanks to Henry, Evie, Ethan and Cally for continuing to get up early and lend their support, despite their impending A-levels.”

Looking ahead, the paddlers have more intense training sessions ahead of them, especially as the Devices to Westminster race is 2 weeks earlier this year than last year, and the team need to work out the best paddling combinations as soon as possible. They need to build up their distance, but also work on portaging, a key part of the race, ahead of another Hare and Hounds race at the end of the month, before a series of races in February and March, leading up to the big weekend.

You can watch our videos about last year’s paddlers below!


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