Last weekend saw the annual British Open take place at Lee Valley Olympic White Water Course in London, and Stafford and Stone Canoe Club were out in force to represent this outstanding Canoe Slalom club.
Senior and Junior paddlers were competing in all of the five slalom categories on the toughest course in the country for the title of British Open Champions.
Alongside this were other water sport events, a division two slalom on the Legacy Loop and British Olympians were in attendance to sign autographs, meet and greet the paddlers, friends, family and public who had travelled to London for the weekend to attend the event. British Canoeing had gone all out to ensure there was something for everyone. We were even treated to some excellent commentary during the slalom event by Ettiene Stott, London 2012 Gold Medallist (C2). The buzz around the BC stand was constant throughout the two days, particularly when S&SCC’s Joe Clarke arrived with his Gold Medal.
Day one started with heat one and first down were the C1W. Representing S&SCC were Jasmine Royle, recently back from the final of the World Cup Series and Jessica Magson. Jasmine who has finished the World Cup Series with a World Ranking of 7th in C1W went straight through heat one into Sunday’s semi final. Newly promoted Premier division C1W Jessica Magson didn’t quite make the semi finals in C1 missing out by just one place but had another chance as she was also competing in the women’s Kayak event.
Onto C1M and representing S&SCC were Adam Burgess, Sam Maingay, Mike Dickinson, Jonathon Li, Andrew Roden and Daniel Bate. Adam who was also just back from the World Cup Series and now ranked 3rd in the World Cup Rankings, also went straight through to the semi finals in heat one along with Sam Maingay who qualified in 20th place. Mike Dickinson following from heat two.
K1W were up next and competing along with Lizzie Neave were Hannah Bailey, Megan Bate, Shannon Judge and Jessica Magson. After achieving a World Cup Ranking of 7th from this summer Lizzie sailed straight through to the semi’s in 1st place. Hannah Bailey qualified also in heat one in 1oth place, with the other three having to compete in heat two after lunch. All three performed well but there were only 15 places left in the K1W semi final and around 40 paddlers in the 2nd heat. Jessica Magson, who trains as part of the British Canoeing Super Regional Squad, came in 15th place taking the last slot in the semi’s, in her first ranked race on the Olympic course.
Next were the K1M, always a very exciting and fast category, and represented well by S&SCC junior and senior athletes. Joe Clarke was not competing at this event as he was still waiting for his boat to return from Rio, but was still kept very busy signing autographs.
Mick Berwick, Kurts Adams Rozentals, Sam Maingay, John Dickinson, Isaac Barker, Mike Dickinson, Robert Holdway, Austin Barker, Rob Neave, Paul Sunderland, David Bain and Christopher Bowers were all battling it out for a place in the semi finals.
Times, as always were very close and going through over both heats were Christopher Bowers, David Bain, Austin Barker, Paul Sunderland, Sam Maingay, Rob Neave, Mike Dickinson and Robert Holdway.
Last of the heats was C2’s with brothers and C2 partners James & Andrew Roden competing for Stafford and Stone. James and Andrew flew down the course qualifying for the semi final in 1st place.
Day two and it was time for semi finals. Nervous but confident paddlers waited in the start pool for their chance to qualify for a place in the finals. Sunday’s course had been designed by British Canoeing coach Mark Ratcliffe and was more tricky and technical than Saturdays. The race was running in championship format so therefore paddlers only had one semi final run to try to gain their spot in the first ten. Competing against some of the best paddlers in the world!
First down was C1W and Jasmine Royle put down a good run in the second fastest time to secure her place in the final. Next was C1M Adam Burgess secured his place in the final with a smooth and conservative semi final run finishing 7th. Sam Maingay, who trains as part of British Canoeing England National Talent Squad, had a fast and tidy run but unfortunately picking up one 2 second penalty which put him just outside the top ten in 13th place.
The K1W semi final followed and Lizzie secured her place in the final with 1st place and Hannah Bailey just made the final taking the 10th and final place. In K1M David Bain, Christopher Bowers and Paul Sunderland finished in the top ten to secure their places in the British Open Final. In the C2 semi final the Roden brothers finish again in 1st place qualifying for the final.
It was all to play for on Sunday afternoon. The sun had made an appearance and the atmosphere was electric as we all waited for the finals to begin. First down C1W Jasmine Royle representing S&SCC. Jasmine picked up three penalties on her final run but still she came away with a third place in this years British Open. Jasmine has had a fantastic year on the international circuit and will be advancing from an U23 to a Senior paddler for the 2017 season.
Next to battle it out was the C1M where Adam Burgess had a fantastic fast and clean run to put him in first place, but Adam had a tense wait for another six competitors to come down the course before he could celebrate. The times were close and Ryan Westley was looking like he was going to take the title, but he picked up a two second penalty which put him 0.75 seconds behind Adam. Adam had won and was crowned British Open Champion 2016.
K1W was to follow, Hannah was first down and had an exceptional run, quick and penalty free. Lizzie was to be the last K1W down the course after qualifying first in the semi’s. It wasn’t to be for Lizzie picking up 4 seconds in penalities to finish in 3rd place, with Hannah Bailey finishing in 4th.
The penultimate catergory, K1M, and S&SCC had three athletes in the final. All three put in good performances in the closely fought final. David Bain finished joint 4th, Christopher Bowers 6th, and Paul Sunderland 8th. We shall be seeing much more of these athletes in the 2017 season, as the youngest of the trio Chris Bowers has been competing as part of the junior GB team this season and was covering for Joe Clarke in the World Cup Final. Paul who achieved reserve spot on the U23 GB Team has competed as part of the U23 team this season.
Final runs were the C2, James and Andrew picked up 4 seconds in penalties in their final run to finish in third place overall. Known as Oz and Bert the brothers have been competing in C2 for many years and are a formidable team. Only last weekend the pair had competed for S&SCC at the National Interclub Championships where their first place in C2 helped secure the club the National Championship title.