Baldock Canoe Club Win Slalom Sport Trophy

Baldock Canoe Club Win Slalom Sport Trophy
Brian McCusker
by Brian McCusker from Biggleswade GBR on 10 Sep 2012

Letchworth based Baldock and District Canoe Club have competed at the National Interclub Slalom championship at Cardington near Bedford.

Baldock and District Canoe Club, competing as one of the top 23 Clubs in the country had to compete against serious competition all inspired by Gold Medal success in the Olympics for Team GB.

First up were Fiona McCusker, Carmel Buttimer and Emma Clarke in the Ladies Kayak Team event on Saturday. Their first run saw a costly mistake on finish line, where all team members must finish within 15 seconds of each other, this saw the team pick up a 50 second penalty, and languish in 20th place. The sun shone on a packed Priory Park course and also shone on the Baldock Ladies as their second run saw a much improved performance and they managed to improve up to 14th despite improved performances by the other teams.
The Mens first Team of Division 3 paddlers Colin Tomkins, brother Patrick Tomkins representing Division 2 and Terry Griffiths as the Clubs Veteran ranked paddler, showed a great understanding of each other as they stormed to second place in their event. Their second run was consistent and literally exactly the same as their first run and this was enough to give them the runners up spot.
BrianMcCusker paired up with Paul Miller in the C2 Canadian Doubles. They joined up with Paul Stephens and Emma Clarke in the Canadian team . The first run saw the Team a little rusty and picking up a few penalties with a not particularly fast. This was only good enough for 17th place. A much faster second run with fewer penalties saw the team move up to 13th. A very good performance against some very strong Canadian Teams.
The Mens Premier and Division 1 Team saw Paul Miller swap the C2 for a K1 kayak and team up with Alistair Riches and Andrew Robertson. All of these senior chaps are ranked in Division 3, With newly promoted Andrew in his first year of competition, but were not phased by going up against some of the countries best Senior and Junior kayakers. Their first run saw an unfortunate missed gate that gave them 50 seconds of penalties and saw them in 21st place. An improved second run saw all of the gates safely negotiated this time, but a few two second touch penalties meant the run wasn’t entirely clean. It was good enough to see them move up into the top 20 and get 18th place.
The individual runs on Sunday saw unranked Fiona compete in the Division 3 Ladies Kayak. Her first run was very impressive with very few mistakes and despite being up against much more experienced competitors, she was lying in 5th place. As the weather continued to heat up the spectators and competitors alike, the competition also heated up and Fiona’s performance certainly didn’t and cheered on by her husband and two young children, managed to put in a second consistent run that was almost exactly the same time as her first run. The competition was so close that Fiona moved down to 6th place by only 6/100th of a second and she was literally a hand full of seconds away from the medal places.
Carmel Buttimer returned to compete in the Division 2 Ladies, despite not having competed since the very start of the season. Against some of the most promising lady paddlers in the country, Carmel had a very Solid first run in some very hot conditions of the weekend and some touch penalties saw her in 19th. Her second run saw a great improvement and she finished in 15th over all.
Under 18 Emma Clarke had a very busy weekend, not only competing in the Ladies Premier/Division 1 event despite being only ranked in Division 2, but also taking part in the Ladies Canadian singles as well. Her Kayak runs were particularly impressive against some of the countries best paddlers. Two near perfect runs saw Emma get a top 15 finish. Literally as soon as she had finished her runs she swapped her twin bladed paddles for a single blade and took part in the relatively new discipline of Ladies Canadians. Great Britain has proved to be one of the nations that is excelling at this discipline and on her showings here, Emma definitely shows a lot of promise for the future. Again two near perfect runs saw her finish in 12th place.
Colin Tomkins who is one of the Clubs, Canoe Polo stalwarts, is more used to the more physical competitive clash on the Polo field than the more refined technical slalom course gates. Colin isn’t ranked in thisr event, but his performances put paid to any doubt over his abilities. In the K1 Colin put in a near faultless great first run that saw him lying in 2nd place just outside the top three. His second run was even better and saw him improve his time by less than a second, but in this hotly disputed category every hundredth counted and his time was good enough to write his name on the runners up Trophy
Colins older Brother Patrick is also recognised as a leading Polo player, but he has a wealth of Slalom experience as well. Taking a leaf out of Colins book, he too produced a stunning first run to lie in second place in the mens Division Two Kayak. His next run was again faultless and at this level, every competitor was within seconds of each other. At the end of the runs Patrick was in second place, but Team Manager Jacomina Wakeford returned from an emergency meeting with great news for Patrick as the paddler in first place was in-fact ineligible for the Division and that Patrick was now the winner of the event!
Division 2 ranked Veteran Terry Griffiths spurred on by the exploits of his younger team mates, proved that his experience and recent good results nationally were still to hand when he managed to get 5th place again, against some particularly good Division 1 and Premier kayakers.
Brian McCusker and Paul Miller put in a first run in the Canadian Double event that saw them pick up a few penalties with a not particularly fast time leaving them lying in 19th place. As this was their first event of the year they were a little disappointed but knew they had more in the tank. An improved second run which was faster and also had fewer penalties and a long sprint at the end that saw them going Full Gas, was enough to see them improve up to 13th place over all.
The Mens Premier A places was taken by Alistair Riches who is normally ranked in Division 3. Using a plastic river boat rather than a Carbon Kevlar slalom boat Alistair managed to complete his first run and put in a credible 21st place. He switched to a proper competition boat for his second run and the improvement was significant with Alistair moving up to 19th.
Premier B class was a division packed with talent vying for the eyes of the National selectors and Novice Andrew Robertson in only his first year of competition certainly had his work cut out here. Andrew is newly promoted to Division 3, certainly was not daunted by the task he faced. Two sterling performances in both of his runs saw him finish in a brilliant 20th place, against some of the best Junior and Senior paddlers in the country.
Paul Miller then swapped his seat in the back of the C2 for single Kayak to represent Baldock in the Mens Division 1. Having not competed in a Kayak for more years than he cares to remember, Paul proved that he could still remember what to do on a Slalom Course. Again this Division is populated by a wealth of Junior talent, and cheered on by his son and Daughter, Paul produced two solid runs that saw him finish in 15th place.

These great performances helped Baldock and District to win the Slalom Sports Trophy which is awarded to the highest placed Team that does not include any Premier or Division 1 ranked paddlers. This is the third consecutive year that Baldock have won the trophy. Non-paddling Team Manager Jacomina Wakeford was quoted as saying that she was “Proud of some exceptional performances by all the Team, especially to retain the Slalom Sports Trophy for a record breaking fourth consecutive year which was presented by Olympic Gold Medalist Etienne Stott from Bedford”.
Etienne from Bedford Club, Viking KC spent the whole of the final day signing autographs and chatting with seasoned paddlers and awe struck children alike, before presenting all of the trophies.


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