Crews prepare for Devizes to Westminster as sun returns

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: The canoe club – on the back row are Ray Clements, Steve Bush, Simon Woody, Henny Lowth, Jemima Pitceathly, Kevin Crabb, Paul Papworth-Smith and Kevin Dobson. Middle row – Jonpaul McCourt, Liza Dibble. Front row – Mark Bouch, Ian Stokes, Paul Sykes, The canoe club – on the back row are Ray Clements, Steve Bush, Simon Woody, Henny Lowth, Jemima Pitceathly, Kevin Crabb, Paul Papworth-Smith and Kevin Dobson. Middle row – Jonpaul McCourt, Liza Dibble. Front row – Mark Bouch, Ian Stokes, Paul Sykes,

Devizes to Westminster canoe race entrants have taken advantage of the good weather to make up for training time lost to the winter storms.

Devizes Canoe Club said its training programme for the 125-mile race over the Easter weekend was severely disrupted by the rain and high water levels.

Club secretary Ann Slator said: “We have been unable to follow our usual training programme because we have not been able to get on the Thames since the middle of December due to high flow rates.

“For the past seven weeks we have been unable to go beyond Kintbury on the canal, again because of high water levels.

“Luckily, this present dry spell is giving water levels the chance to drop and we are hopeful that we might be able to do some training on other parts of the canal and the Thames in the coming weeks, so crews can see some of the other sections of the course before Easter weekend.”

The club has 13 crews in this year’s race, which sets off from Devizes Wharf on Good Friday.

Sam Weller, who completed the race last year, is teamed up with debutant Steve Bush in the senior doubles section along with Mark Bouch and Neil King, and first-timers Jonpaul McCourt and Ray Clements, Derek Tate and Kevin Crabb and Paul Sykes and Simon Woody.

Stepdaughter and stepfather Samantha and Steve New will take part for the first time together, although Mr New took part in the Endeavour class two years ago. Sue Colby and Ian Thackray are also taking part.

Paul Papworth-Smith and Kevin Dobson will be taking part in a Canadian-style canoe.

The club has three entries in the singles section: Jill Priday, Ian Stokes and Mark Ball, while their only junior doubles crew is Henny Lowth and Jemima Pitceathly.

Endeavour crews include Liza Dribble and Richard Carp, while Dauntsey’s School has a big entry in the junior doubles section.

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