Canoe Club Triumphs, Despite The Smell

Everyone MUCCs in to reach 7th place at BUCS Slalom.


Thankfully the article wasn’t a scratch-and-sniff.

Determination is a word that best describes MUCC’s efforts in last weekend’s BUCS Slalom competition at HPP, Nottingham. At the very start of the weekend, the majority of the group were delayed by a minibus that was so full of affection for 1st gear, it decided half way along the A50 that it never wanted to leave it again. Two hour’s wait and some gentle clutch persuasion by the AA man soon fixed that however, and the weekend was back on track.

The team had suffered a number of injuries prior to this competition, preventing three of their best paddlers, Andrew Williams, Clare Hawkins and Ben Brisbourne (two injured knees and a broken back respectively) from competing. Everyone was determined to try their hardest to plug the gap however, and the three injured members had even come along for moral support (helped substantially by the aid of Andy’s bull horn and several comedy tunes). The exuberant Lewis Renshall even came along as an additional cheer leader!

Give 'em Helliwell

Sam Helliwell gives the evils to an upstream gate.

On the Saturday morning, pumped full of Coca-Cola to ward off the River AIDS (HPP’s water is notorious for making almost everyone who paddles it ill in one way or another, or sometimes both ways at the same time), the team travelled from the scout hut they were staying in to the site of the course for the beginning of the event. Canoe Slalom is where competitors paddle down a river, weaving across it and going through as many gates as possible, some upstream and some downstream, in the fastest time. The Men’s individual kayak heats were first and the course saw some sterling performances from Ben Saxby, Frazer Pimblett, Tom Fyall, Chris Williams, Alfie O’Neill, Sam Helliwell, Mathew Wilkinson, Mike Fenton & Nick Kasch, some of whom had never even done slalom before. There were some swims, but everybody was in good spirits, and the members who weren’t paddling did just as much exercise running up and down the bank yelling at the competitors in encouragement, so much so that there were a few sore throats at our celebrations in the local pub after.

Two is Company

Tom Fyall and Frazer Pimblett make C2 look easy.

Sunday morning came with bad news, the course had been shut down due to the increasing volumes of what was referred to as water, but at this point was probably more accurately described as sewage. The team was disappointed by this, and began lethargically packing up and readying to head home, when another call was received announcing the course was open again! Everyone bundled into the vehicles, and made it to the course for a quick safety brief (essentially saying; don’t swim, and if you do, close every orifice as tight as physically possible). The smell on the river was noticeable to say the least, but nevertheless everyone gave it their best and got some fantastic results in all the events held that day. Both the girls (Susan Warden and Louise Maddison) rocked the Women’s individual kayak heats and Frazer, Ben, Chris, Susan and Tom powered through the C1 event (kneeling up with only one paddle, difficult stuff!). Mathew and Jonathon Winter provided comic relief in their drawn out build up to, and then short but sweet C2 run, and then Frazer and Tom showed everyone how it’s done. Later in the day there were 4 valiant Team kayak runs, which rounded off the day nicely for some incredibly thorough showering and then the prize giving.


Alfie O’Neill and Chris Williams show off their teamwork.

Taking the injuries and small team size into account, everybody was incredibly proud of their 7th place out of the 24 universities present, and there were some noteworthy performances from Frazer, Tom and Chris, finishing 7th in the team event, Tom and Frazer finishing 5th in C2, Susan finishing 18th in the Women’s kayak heats, and Ben finishing 23rd in the Men’s kayak heats. Overall though, fun was had by all, and nobody got seriously ill or mutated by HPP’s questionable water content!

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