Tuesday, 02 June 2020
UNDETERRED by the choppy, windy conditions, five dragon boats and five outrigger canoes joined Henley Dragons for their last winter series event of the year on Sunday over the 7km course.
The helms had their work cut out for them just lining up near the start line as the wind churned up the river, rocking the boats.
Pink Champagne, a crew comprised of breast cancer survivors, was set off first. Hot on their heels were Hurricanes Allsorts, Secklow Hundred and Henley Dragons. Hunting Henley were Wraysbury and Rafters.
Henley Dragons started well, initiating their race start and transitioning into their full, long, strong stroke. They gained on Secklow with every stroke, whilst they both navigated around Pink Champagne as they all charged towards Temple Island.
Behind Henley, Wraysbury and Rafters were having their own battle and they were upon each other as they navigated around Temple Island. As Henley turned they could hear them both behind them.
The battling Wraysbury and Rafters navigated into the middle of the river as they both overtook Henley on their return stretch. Strategically, Henley used them both by tucking in behind. As clear water started to appear between them, Henley sought shelter on the bank side. Wraysbury and Rafters continued their battle for the entire race, as they both surged past Hurricanes just before Henley Bridge. Three dragon boats were aiming for the same arch until Wraysbury dramatically changed direction and channelled themselves both towards the middle arch. Good helming allowed Wraysbury the opportunity to ride Rafters’ wash to carry them along and Rafters were unable to shake them off. They both finished neck and neck after navigating around the top turn together. Henley Dragons continued their hunting of Secklow Hundred, always having them in their sights, but were unable to catch them.
Rafters finished first in a time of 32 minutes, 48 seconds , Wraysbury in a time of 33 minutes, 21 seconds and Henley third in 35 minutes, 13 seconds.
These positions in the race, being the last in the series, were also the finishing order in the series. Taking into account the British Dragonboat Association (BDA) teams, under which Rafters do not fall part, Wraysbury were the first BDA crew and Henley Dragons finished second. Third place overall went to Secklow Hundred.
Starting off the outrigger race was a new addition to the race, a three man V3 canoe called Jurassic. Royal Outrigger Canoe Club (ROCC) men, Royal Outrigger Canoe Club women, Paddlesports mixed and C6 Heave also joined in the race.
The V3 did a good job navigating the river in these windy conditions completing the course in 39 minutes, 10 seconds. Late entry C6 Heave finished first in a time of 34 minutes, 36 seconds while ROCC men were second in 36 minutes, one second and ROCC women third in 39 minutes, five seconds.
Henley Dragons now look forward to competing across the country in their BDA league events, with their first race in Worcester on April 14.
04 February 2019
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