Devizes to Westminster 2017

Flying finishes, firsts and farewells at DW 2017

Our paddlers took to the water over the Easter weekend to test their physical and mental stamina in the 125 mile Devizes to Westminster Canoe Marathon on the River Thames.

This endurance race starts in Devizes in Wiltshire and finishes just downstream of Westminster Bridge, opposite the Houses of Parliament and it has been held annually over the Easter Weekend since 1948. The 125 mile-long route is peppered with 77 portages when paddlers need to lift their boats (and themselves) out of the water, run around the obstruction such as weir, dam or lock, and promptly get back into their craft and the river to continue on their way. The first 52 miles are along the Kennet and Avon Canal to Reading, the next 56 miles are on the River Thames to Teddington and the final 17 mile section is on the tidal portion of the Thames.

The Royal Hospital School finished a credible 3rd in the School’s Teams category, 6th out of the Junior Teams and managed to snap up 2nd in the CCF category.

Our top junior crew was Freddie Braybrooke and Richard Vallance who, despite a second day injury, kept within the top 20 all weekend and placed 19th out of 90 crews. They also managed to complete the race in under 20 hours, a feat that fewer than 20 pairs of RHS paddlers have achieved over 22 years.

The two C2 crews, paddling Canadian canoes, dominated the podium by finishing 1st and 2nd with Tom Joice and Cedric Hoskyns-Abrahall claiming the second fastest C2 time ever from RHS, crossing the line in 22 hours and 5 minutes.

Race veterans Natasha Scott and Howard Head became the first ever RHS pupils to complete the race 3 times whilst still at school.

It wasn’t just our pupils who took part with parents Adam Kerr and Richard Braybrooke stepping up to the challenge and completing in 26 hours and 3 minutes.

Our alumni however claimed the greatest victory of the day with former pupil Billy Butler winning the Senior Kayak non-stop race in an incredible 17 hours and 30 minutes, another first for RHS.

Mr Thompson, DW race coach said, "It was a great achievement from all the paddlers and for those who were in the race that was abbreviated at Teddington last year, an important conclusion to a two year commitment." 

It was an end of an era as the RHS community thanked Les Thompson, who is retiring at the end this year, for the legacy he has left after 22 years of coaching the RHS DW teams.