After a Covid-enforced two year break the world’s longest non-stop canoe race, the Devizes to Westminster race, returns on April 15 for its 72nd event, with more than 188 boats and 332 competitors taking part.

Although normally 125 miles including 77 portages over canal locks, this year’s race will be over 107 miles and 77 portages ending at Thames Young Mariners club.

Starting at Devizes Wharf, paddlers compete in kayaks or open canoes, as individuals or pairs, navigating 54 miles of the Kennet & Avon Canal to Reading, during which they must ‘portage’ 77 locks. At Reading they move onto the River Thames for a further 53 miles to Teddington Lock.

Crews this year come from canoe clubs throughout the UK and the world, including Ireland, the Netherlands, Jersey and France.

Although many of the Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, St Thomas’s hospital, the traditional finish point for the race, remains in use as a Covid-19 vaccination facility.

Despite extensive research, no alternative finish point is available between Teddington and Westminster, but the race organisers are adamant that the race will return its traditional finish point in the future.