Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race

The finish line at Westminster
The finish line at Westminster

What’s it all about?

Devizes to Westminster logoThe Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race is the longest non-stop canoe race in the world. It starts in the quiet market town of Devizes in Wiltshire and runs along the Kennet and Avon Canal, punctuated by locks, until it reaches the River Thames at Reading. 125 miles in distance, the race finishes at Westminster Bridge, directly opposite the Houses of Parliament in the heart of London. But DW is much more than just a canoe race - it’s an adventure! It forces competitors to dig long and deep into their reserves of physical and mental stamina which is why the race is often called “the Canoeist's Everest”. The 2011 Endeavour crew reaches the finish lineHaving the technical skill to paddle a kayak or canoe is essential but the most important quality needed to complete DW is raw determination. And the reward for making the mighty effort needed to cross the finish line is a sense of satisfaction so profound that many paddlers can’t resist coming back year after year.

The race can either be completed in one continuous effort or paddled over four days. The Senior Doubles event (often called the straight-through race) is non-stop and is exclusively for adult paddlers in a two person boat. The Senior Doubles crews set off from Devizes and simply don’t stop until they get to Westminster, 125 miles and 77 portages later. For elite crews, this journey may take 17 or 18 hours – the race record has stood since 1979 at an incredible 15 hours and 34 minutes - but it is a real achievement to break 20 hours and the bulk of paddlers take around 24. But however quick a crew is, everyone has to paddle through the night. Coping with deep fatigue in the hours of darkness is just one of the challenges facing DW paddlers in the straight-through race.

The 2011 Endeavour crewAlternatively, the race can be done in daylight over 4 days. On the first day paddlers cover 34 miles, then 36, 38 and on the final day, a mercifully short 17.The competitive 4 day classes include Junior Doubles, Senior Singles, and Veteran / Junior Doubles.  Do not mistake the 4 day events for a soft option. Each day sees intense racing and the cumulative toll this takes on body and soul is considerable. Some of the most exciting racing, from a spectator point of view, takes place in these classes because the boats do not get so strung out as in the straight-through event.

There is also a non-competitive 4 day Doubles category – the Endeavour Class – for adults who prefer to take their time and enjoy the beautiful scenery the Thames Valley has to offer. More information can be found at www.dwrace.org.uk.

Blundell’s and the Race

Blundell’s students, staff and Old Blundellian members of the Blundell’s Canoe club have been taking part in the race for many years.

The event is divided into classes. Blundell’s compete in the four day event, which starts on Good Friday and finishes on Easter Monday every year. Most paddlers enter the Junior K2 class, some go in as Junior/Veteran and the occasional single paddler enters one of the toughest categories, the K1 event.

Blundellians who have completed the event

Category Crew Members Overall time Position
2011
Junior K2 Dylan Davis and Gerald Auger 23.41.32 45th
Endeavour Leah Doak and Luke Wynell-Mayow 25.53.27 13th
2010
Junior K2 Chris Boddington and Fred Evans 19.46.18 25th
Junior K2 Tamsin Cardale and James Evans 20.21.40 35th
Junior K2 Harry Bruce and Edward Thomson 20.51.52 41st
2009
Junior K2 Tamsin Cardale and Elliot Prior 22.07.46 39th
Junior K2 James Evans and Harry Bruce 22.55.24 49th
Junior/Vet Bess Menheneott and Yan Yates 22.55.00 8th
2008
Junior K2 Austin Squibbs and Rory Findlay 19.14.11 6th
Junior K2 Edward Jones and Edward Lock 21.23.44 28th
Junior K2 Bess Menheneott and Thomas Treffry 25.08.08 63rd
2007
Junior K2 Rory Findlay and Tim Archibald 21.49:33 33rd
Junior K2 Austin Squibbs and Richard Carroll 22:23:07 41st
2006
Junior K2 Ben Garth and Joe Lambert-Barnett 21.12.16 14th
Junior K2 Josh Albon and Jack Bruce 21.19.41 17th
Junior K2 Will Harper and Jack Warne 23.53.56 32nd
2005
Junior K2 Jack Bruce and Edward Spencer 23.57.58 43rd
Junior K2 Emma Hayes Pankhurst and Josh Albon 24.43.27 47th
Junior/Vet K2 Alan Ker and John Ker 22.02.33 3rd
2004
Junior K2 Tom Garth and William Spencer 23.19.49 33rd
Junior K2 Will Kerr and George Daniell 25.13.10 48th
Junior/Vet John Ker and Yan Yates 24.15.51 6th
Senior K1 Michael Wright 19.29.05 12th
2003
Junior K2 Hugo Davies and Michael Wright
(Highest J. K2)
20.01.18 4th
Junior K2 Peter Daniell and Alex de Tessier 25.56.54 47th
Junior/Vet Steve Keane and Sandy Nightingale 20.18.41 3rd
2002
Junior K2 Michael Wright and Chris Sagar 18.52.25 6th
Junior K2 Hugo Davies and Will Bosworth 19.35.51 12th
Junior K2 Sandy Nightingale and Charlie Leigh - -
1999
Junior K2 C. Smedley and C. Dalrymple-Smith 18.46.06 4th
Junior K2 S. Bisiker and H Vlasto 24:51:20 42nd
Junr /Vet Steve Keane and Will Nightingale 18:18:11 2nd
1998
Junior K2 C. Smedley and I R Blessley
(Fastest Junior K2)
18.20.32 9th
Junior/Vet R. Smedley and Steve Keane
(Fastest Junior/Vet)
17:49:50 2nd
1997
Junior K2 D. H. Copplestone and A.A. Pilgrim 20.31.33 12th
Junior K2 Charmody Briggs and J Banbury
(Fastest Mixed K2 or girls crew)
22:16:24
24th
Junior K2 GHH Morris and C Hulse 22:36:39 28th
Junior/Vet R. Smedley and Steve Keane 19:27:41 3rd
1996
Junior K2 D.H. Copplestone and S. Pilgrim 19.38.36 6th
Junior K2 G.E. Meadows and Darrel Keane 20:06:42 7th
1985
Junior K2 S.J. Barnes and M.C. Howgill 29:02:07 50th
1984
Junior K2 C.R. Browning and M.B. Jones 27:03:02 48th

Links

[ Road-crew information - PDF doc; 403KB ]

[ Training & pre-event training races, Waterside Series ]