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Sharpe shoots to cup win

PUBLISHED: 11:51 11 April 2008 | UPDATED: 07:19 01 August 2010

Easter was the 60th anniversary of the famous Devizes to Westminster race and the four-day event was supported by over 150 crews consisting mainly of K2s along with 35 K1s and 10 or so Canadians.

Easter was the 60th anniversary of the famous Devizes to Westminster race and the four-day event was supported by over 150 crews consisting mainly of K2s along with 35 K1s and 10 or so Canadians.

For local paddler Chris Sharpe (Southwold/Waveney) this was his fourth Devizes to Westminster and he hoped to improve on last year's time of less than 21 hours.

River levels were high and the Thames was just within its banks after being in flood the previous weekend. The race consists of four stages of 34, 36 and 38 miles and with the final 17 miles on the tideway to Westminster Bridge.

On the first day good progress was made up until the last five miles when the boat started to fill with water after being damaged at a portage. At the next seven portages it had to be emptied out, causing some delay and his schedule slipped to a time of about six-and-a-half hours and 17th place.

The second day conditions slowed progress to just walking pace with the only option to paddle close to the bank for fear of capsizing.

Many juniors took to the pathway to escape the waves and carried their boats until more sheltered water was found and at this point Sharpe managed to overtake at least 20 walking juniors.

His time was 6-50 for 13th position and leading in the 50 plus K1.

Day three was the coldest yet. An additional long portage was in place at Eton to ensure competitors remained clear of a particularly strong current close to a weir.

After the 30-mile mark, Sharpe's performance dropped with more wind and waves to contend with and he began to feel mentally drained and was thankful when the finishing hooter sounded, his time 6hr 52min.

Day four saw a mass start for the singles followed 30 minutes later by the doubles.

The singles assembled in the dark, Sharpe was unsure of his position but was able to wash-hang for about two miles before falling away and was passed by just four boats.

Finally, came the relief of taking the last bend to see ahead the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye and, more importantly, the finish.

The cheers from the crowd, brought a welcome relief to the competitors as they crossed the line.

Although slower than last year in a time of 22-13, it was a good result for 13th place, up from 14th, and for the second successive year retaining the title of fastest over-50s K1 paddler, winning the Half Century Cup.

Chris is looking for support for the 2009 race.

If you would like to assist call 01502 714812.

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