London Kayakathon was sponsored by Venture Canoes and Kayaks.
This Marathon length paddle on London Marathon Day, took the entrants up through the amazing cites of London’s Royal River. A lovely sunny day, tremendously well organised by Simon Osbourne and Matt Loots from Paddlesports C.I.C
Based from the hospitable Shadwell Basin Outdoor Activity Centre, who also used their safety boats, and staff. Many thanks to them and all the on water marshalls.
Paddlers needed to be 3 star and above, and came from not just the UK, but one chap had come from Frankfurt and a couple had come from Galway, that I bumped in to.
Pete Scutt from Whitewater The Canoe Centre and I (Graham Mackereth) were testing pre-production Jura MV’s. Tim Lambert paddled a P&H Cetus LV and there was a great showing of P&H, and Venture designs throughout the fleet it was particularly good to see some of the older kayaks such as an Orca.
We launched on to the flooding tide about 11.15, and paddled up river under Tower Bridge and through the city with crowds cheering for the London Marathon, and those that saw us, for us; shades of HM’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant. I could have done with a Klaxon!
Due to safety we had to keep paddling, and were not allowed to take photos in the city. With Clippers and Trippers, crossing, turning and generally putting up large washes, it is a very busy stretch of water. This is then compounded by a fast running tide at about 3-4 knots, sweeping you to obstructions and dangers of bridge arches, moored barges and boats. Easy to keep clear of, but you need to stay watchful that you are staying away from a potential danger.
The sights of the city are awesome, unique. Paddling along it is hard not to let your concentration wander to the Tower of London, London Eye, St Pauls Cathedral, the Shard, the Globe, Lambeth Palace, and historic boats a plenty. Thames Barges, the vast HMS Belfast, the Golden Hind, and numerous historic paddle steamers and exploration ships, now used as bars and restaurants.
This large group of slow moving sea kayaks had to be tightly marshalled.
Once through to Westminster we had a short break, and got cameras out, after that it was a steady cruise up to Chiswick Bridge, and always sights to see, Battersea Power Station, classic bridges and new housing developments a plenty. Then a lunch stop at the Ship at Mortlake, mooring over the flooded road. A very civilized way to do a Marathon.
Simon timed it perfectly, so as soon as lunch was finished the tide had turned and was running well, talking us back towards the city.
Under London Bridge we encountered large standing waves, probably about 1 metre high, then we had some large washes to contend with to liven the paddle up. The return leg seemed even faster, and a finish about 5.00pm
A Fantastic day, and a brilliant job of organisation. A kayakathon event is very recommendable, and I have no doubt will be a tremendous way for paddlers to help charities in the future.
Thanks to everyone we shared it with, we’re looking forward to the next one.