Volunteers from Taunton Canoe Club and Bideford Canoe Club successfully delivered a fantastic weekend of slalom on the Dulverton site. Thanks must also go to Wilton Scouts for an amazing effort catering for everyone. Also expert help and advice from Frome Canoe Club members was gratefully received.
This is the report written by Bideford Canoe Club’s chairman, Peter Thorn.
Slalom Competition at Dulverton
The second ever Canoe Slalom competition was held on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 March on the River Barle at Dulverton. In the heart of Exmoor, this is a canoeing honeypot for lovers of moderate white water, with groups coming from all over the south of England in the winter in pursuit of excitement and to enjoy the beauty of the valley.
Sixty four entries to the competition came from as far away as the Isle of Wight, with ages ranging from 10 years to 78 years. On the Saturday, thirteen teams of three paddlers each competed in a light-hearted team event. Bideford Canoe Club organised the event in partnership with Taunton CC, with expert help from other clubs at Frome and Stroud. The aim was to awaken more local interest in Slalom, a sport in which Great Britain won gold and silver medals at the 2012 Olympics.
Slalom is a time trial competition, where competitors negotiate ‘gates’, which are coloured poles suspended above the water. This competition had twenty three gates and was aimed at people relatively new to slalom. The stretch of water, locally known as the ‘Camel’s Hump’, is fast and channelled with rocks and eddies, making it a challenging experience for relative beginners. Course designer Doug Smith had set the course to make use of its natural features, with six of the gates taken upstream, using eddies to help people turn into them. There were many thrills and some spills during the practice day on Saturday, but immediate help was available from safety boaters and throw lines provided by Taunton and Bideford members.
Event Organisers, Clive and Leonie Merrifield, got the two days running smoothly, using two way radios and computer programmes to collate results. He said, ‘This was our second ever slalom competition and we are indebted to the enthusiasm and efforts of our club members and friends in making it all happen. The pay back has been seeing the fantastic excitement among young people in achieving more than they thought possible’. Wilton Scouts brought along a full camp kitchen to provide hot food and drink on both days.
Dulverton’s Mayor, Nick Thwaite, presented the prizes together with owner of the field Frances Takel. Among the winners, Harvey Merrifield from Taunton CC, aged 14 years, beat all the adult competitors, including his father, and his brother Thomas, aged 12 years, came seventh in a field of sixteen. The brothers must have a bright future and are an example to us all!
In the novice Division 4, Nathan Mower came first and Dom Russell, second, both from Bideford CC, gaining promotion to Division 3. In the Open K1 Women’s event, Avis Noott from Bristol competed at the age of 78 years.
Other winners were Katherine Smith in Ladies Open K1. Marijke Ransom won in Ladies Div 4 K1, gaining promotion to Division 3. In the C1 event, where competitors kneel in their boats and use a single paddle, Pete Bell from Olney, coming out of retirement, narrowly beat young Harvey Merrifield and his younger brother Tom. Not next time we suspect though!
For lots of pictures and videos of the event see https://www.facebook.com/groups/116968430325/