Henley Dragons excitedly welcomed teams from across the country to the Eyot Centre to take part in the second Henley Winter Series event this year on Remembrance Sunday. Teams from as far as Milton Keynes, Exeter, London and Wraysbury attended the event, competing in both dragonboats and outriggers, and new in this year, Stand up Paddleboards (SUP). The river was awash with colour. One SUP paddler even flew over from Poland to take part in this opportunity to race down the infamous Henley Royal Regatta course. This race was open to all crews, ages and abilities.
All boats and crews observed a very sombre two minutes silence at 11am on the water silently observing and remembering all those who had fallen.
The race kicked off with the outriggers and dragonboats charging down to temple in 30second intervals. A 12km (outrigger) or 7km (Dragonboat & SUP) pursuit race. Crews battled it out downstream lining themselves up for the forthcoming battle back upstream. Crews gave nothing as they clashed paddles and used the river’s course for their advantage.
The slight change in course this year meant all crews turned outside Eyot Island, which was a great spectator point on the course. Positions were held or lost on the tight buoy turn. Rafters came out in force charging down the field and coming in with a time of 32mins 52secs narrowly followed by Wraysbury Dragons in a time of 33mins 34secs & Secklow 100 in 34mins 13secs from Milton Keynes. Henley Dragons came in in a respectable fourth place behind them in a time of 36sec 03secs. Paddlesports racing canoe club fielded 9 crews in the outrigger canoes, with the 50s men and 50s women both taking the gold in their respective categories.
GoWithTheFlow Nick Jupp managed the SUP entries, and was delighted to reveal that the paddler who flew in from Poland, David Kuleta, led the field on an inflatable SUP, not a hard board, and very impressively came in in a time of 44mins 55secs. The first female across the line was Alex Tyrer with an incredible time of 45mins 46secs.
Henley Dragons host this race primarily to raise much needed funds for the Eyot Centre, a registered charity. As you can appreciate during Covid, it has been a challenging time. Henley Dragons look forward to hosting the next Winter Series race, which is due to take place on the 28 November 2021 at 10am.
Pictures courtesy of Drew Delany.