Oxfam Exeter to Exmouth Kayak Rally a huge success – despite inclement conditions

A rgaonboat crew during the sixth Annual Oxfam Exeter to Exmouth Kayak Rally

A rgaonboat crew during the sixth Annual Oxfam Exeter to Exmouth Kayak Rally - Credit: Archant

The sixth Annual Oxfam Exeter to Exmouth Kayak Rally, organised by Exe Sailing Club, proved quite challenging with brisk South Westerly cross winds.

There were concerns with the forecast earlier in the week that last year’s experience would be repeated when the event was stopped short at The Turf and the paddlers returned back to Exeter in the sheltered waters of the canal.

In spite of similar forecasted conditions, it was decided this year no decision whether to shorten or not the rally would be made until paddlers had reached the end of the canal at the Turf. Therefore, with some apprehension and anticipation, 109 paddlers arrived early for registration at Exeter Canoe Club, Exeter Basin, embarking between 8am and 9am onto the canal. There were 61 kayaks and canoes, singles and doubles, one paddle-boarder and two Execalibre Dragon Boats, each with a crew of 15.

At 10.40am the last paddlers reached the canal end of the rally at the Turf in time for the decisive briefing by the Safety Boat River Coordinator, who had earlier travelled with other officials up the river from Exmouth having had a foretaste of the exposed conditions. After careful consideration, the decision was made to proceed onto the Exe at 11am on the turn of the tide, with clear instructions that paddlers should stay close to the sheltered west bank of the river past Starcross Yacht Club and onto Starcross town before proceeding east across the river via The Floating River Exe Café to Exe Sailing Club at Exmouth.

Due to the marginal conditions, the crew in two Dragon Boats and in six kayaks decided not to proceed and returned to Exeter on the canal, leaving 55 kayaks to complete the journey on the river under the protection of 14 safety boats. The one paddle-boarder wisely decided after a few metres to take a lift from one of the safety boats.

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Battling wind against tide for most of the way, and therefore fairly choppy conditions, all paddlers reached Exe Sailing Club by 1pm, tired, but exhilarated, to be greeted by family and friends and a barbecue.

Raffle prizes were given out to the winning paddlers after they were checked in. Each entrant qualified for a free draw in the raffle, with prizes generously donated by Edge Watersports, Exmouth Watersports, Peter Dixon, allGadgets Marines, and The Waterfront Restaurant in Exmouth, and at Exeter Basin AS Watersports, Saddles & Paddles, and the Venezia Italian.

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Entrance fees raised £700 for Oxfam, with further donations expected.

Nick Webber, the principle rally officer, commented: “Numbers were down on previous years due to the conditions, but as in previous years it was encouraging to note that we had a number of new first time entrants who had not previously participated. In addition, our stalwart of regular entrants included again Bernard Cooper who is 84 and which just proves kayaking suits people of all ages.”

Exe Sailing Club and Exmouth Oxfam Fundraising Group, partners in this event, would like thank all volunteers and sponsors whose contributions helped to make this another successful annual event. In addition, both organisations welcome enquiries from new members on club@exe-sailing-club.org and nickwebber368@gmail.com

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