The Eyot Centre in Henley, who is home to the Henley Dragons Racing Team, Henley Canoe Club and Duke of Edinburgh, hosted a V6 Paddlesports Racing Canoe Club Race on the 6 June 2021. The first time in the UK, 11 six man outrigger canoes were to race together at the same venue, in the same race. Paddlesports Racing Canoe Club is run by Richard Parrott from Milton Keynes.
Teams from Milton Keynes, Hereford, London, Wraysbury, Kingston and Nottingham gathered together in socially distanced teams ready for the 12km race. The course was the infamous Henley Winter Series Race route Henley Dragonboat Club host over the Winter months, a course they were to paddle twice in this race! The route began outside the Eyot Centre, who were proudly showing off the newly developed water frontage following the completion of the frontage project (managed by Keith Walker and Richard Parham), with the assistance of Cooks Piling. From there, crews navigated down the Regatta course, around Temple Island and back upstream towards the bridge. From the bridge crews paddled up towards the yellow buoy up from Eyot Island, which is where they turned ahead of the second lap. This route was repeated, and crews finished back at the Eyot Centre.
The first men’s crew “MK Men” crossed the line in a time of 56mins 38secs, with the last men’s crew “Royal Men” coming in in a time of 1hr and 17secs. The first mixed crew out of the four mixed crews entered was our very own “Henley Dragons” in a time of 1hr 02mins 52secs, the last boat in this category was “Thames Dragons” in a time of 1hr 15min 09secs. There was one ladies crew “MK Ladies” who crossed the line in a time of 1hr 07mins 55secs. A huge congratulations to all crews who competed. Very quick times achieved by all.
Cat Cassell said, “What a triumphant effort for the mixed Henley crew. The first race in well over a year. This was testament to all the single boat training the club paddlers were able to achieve over lockdown in a safe and controlled way. A big thanks to the crews for maintaining their social distancing and abiding by all Covid club rules. We now look forward to meeting again for the next race or training day.”