Peak UK supports The Sharks slalom races at Shepperton

Posted By: Rick Moore Published: 08/06/2021

Saturday evening tranquillity on the course (photo by Rick Moore).

Slalom competition returned to the UK in May after a 14 month break due to Covid19 restrictions. The Sharks, London’s premier satellite club, supported by Shepperton slalom canoe club hosted one of the first races, held at Shepperton weir on the River Thames. Around 50 racers in divisions 3, 4, Vets and Open events enjoyed challenging racing over 2 days in glorious summer sunshine.

High river levels made for an exciting slalom course of 18 gates in the fast jets and turbulent eddies of the weir pool.

“It was so good to see paddlers racing and having such a brilliant time” expressed many attendees.

Experience levels ranged from first time racers, of all ages, to the canoe stars of ‘70s slalom racing: Robin Williams (Wey Kayak Club) winning Saturday’s Div 3 C1M race, and Pat Thorn (Windsor and District CC) taking 3rd place in Open C1M. Measures to minimise risk of covid transmission included running canoe races each morning and kayak races each afternoon to help reduce the number of people on site.

“I think the idea of separating K1 and C1 actually worked well” said Roman Kontchakov, coach at Lee Valley Paddlers, a view echoed by Spencer Mullins: “I would like to see this format at other races”.

Parent, Michaela Shadwell, was less convinced, saying: “I felt the paddlers (racing both classes) were at a disadvantage in the kayak race as they were worn out putting all their effort in the canoe race”, though not to detract from “a fantastic day”

.Lessons were learned by the organisers as first day delays arising due to technical issues were rectified the following day. Sunday results were successfully posted to Whatsapp and internet using a new display of results gate-by-gate, introduced into the SimplySlalom software by David Spencer, Chair of the Slalom Committee.

“It was great to see everyone pulling together to make the event a success. The gifts from Peak UK contributed to attracting entries and rewarding volunteers” said Neal Underwood, race organiser with The Sharks. Commemorative T shirts were awarded to class winners and 2 prize draws were held, for racers in the Ranking divisions and racers in the Open classes: winners were J10 Charlie Joyce of Shepperton Slalom Canoe Club and Eleftherios Chatzilamprou of Reading Canoe Club, each winning a £50 voucher to spend with Peak UK.

Paddlers gaining promotion from div 4 to div 3 were: Aaron Gibbs (Shepperton slalom canoe club) in K1M and Charlotte Fulford Perez (Reading Canoe club) in K1W.And promotions from div 3 to div 2 were: Hayden Ridley (J14 Lee Valley PC) and Oliver Shadwell (J14 Ind) in K1M, and Brogan Swart (J16 Wyedean CC) and Darcey McMullins (J14 Lee Valley PC) in C1W.

The event was well attended by canoe clubs from across the region, attracting racers from as far as Llandysul and the Wye Valley. Many attendees expressed their elation to be racing once again:

“Thanks from Adur Canoe Club, we had a great time, looking forward to the next one!” – Esther
“Nice event. Thanks from the Frome contingent” – Matthew
“LVPC had a great weekend as well, thanks all for your work” – Spencer
“Great day, thanks from Poole Harbour” – Pete
“The event was great and it was an amazing start to the season!” – Emily, Reading Canoe Club

Shepperton slalom canoe club is hosting the next slalom race at Shepperton weir on 19-20 June, for divisions 3 and 4.The Sharks are scheduled to run a division 3 and 4 slalom race on their home water at Harefield on 9-10 October

Winner of the Peak UK £50 voucher in the Open category, Eleftherios Chatzilamprou (Reading CC), who paddled both kayak and canoe classes.  Winners were drawn by Jasper and Vera.  Neal Underwood, organiser, to the right (photo by Rick Moore).

Eleftherios Chatzilamprou (Reading CC), about to break a paddle in the Open C1M class (photo by Liz Raciborska).

Lisa Fowler (J16 Reading Canoe Club), Saturday winner of div 3 K1 W, presented with commemorative tee shirt by Neal Underwood, organiser (photo by Rick Moore).

Rish Bajpai (Reading Canoe Club) collects the first J12 prize in Saturday’s Div 4 K1 M race, socially distanced from organiser Neal Underwood (photo by Rick Moore)

Aaron Nolan (The Sharks) on his way to taking 2nd place in Div 3 K1 M (photo by Rick Moore).

Aron Moussaioff (J14 The Sharks) competing in his first ever slalom race (photo by Rick Moore).

Gavriel Moussaioff (J16 The Sharks) in his first race since gaining promotion in 2018 (photo by Rick Moore).

Aaron Gibbs (J14 Shepperton slalom canoe club) had gained promotion on the Saturday, before racing in his first div 3 event the following day (photo by Rick Moore).

George Murphy (J18 Reading Canoe Club) on the challenging course (photo by Liz Raciborska).

Marc Gutteridge (Reading Canoe Club) on the limit (photo by Liz Raciborska).

Peak UK generously supported the event (photo by Liz Raciborska).

Report by Rick Moore, slalom coach at The Sharks