Henley Dragons at the BDA National Championships

The Henley Dragons, filled with confidence from their last season’s race in which they narrowly pipped Wraysbury, the season’s winners to second place in the major 500m final, set off to the National Championships in Nottingham, for this two day event. Despite cold, rainy conditions, Henley were all set to compete in several categories, mixed, open, seniors, women and juniors. Henley joined forces with their sister club Pershore and Bristol for the mixed, ladies, senior and junior races. The open category consisted of all Henley paddlers.


The first day’s racing was the 200m and 2km distances. It is a jam packed day of racing, so crews have to be organised with runners on hand to get vital race times, results and lanes numbers in place. Henley put on a great show, after the heats, they stormed through into the major final in all categories. Henley came bronze in the 200m mixed, silver in the open, bronze in the ladies and bronze in the seniors. The youth team stormed home first in their race.  The 2km race was a different type of spectacle…all boats were to be set off 10 seconds apart depending on their finishing time in the 200m.  The course consisted of three turns, which Henley’s helm manoeuvred the boat around with exceptional skill. Henley’s open team started 2nd from last so were hunting down Wraysbury but were ahead of Amathus. Numerous overtaking opportunities were executed of slower crews as they followed Wraysbury around the course. Henley retained this position, keeping Amathus at bay… finishing the 2km in third place.

The second day consisted of 500m races, in all categories. Again a very successful collection of awards was achieved across the categories; Ladies Gold, Juniors Gold, Mixed 4th, Open Bronze and Seniors Silver.

Henley Dragons are thrilled with their performance and trophy collection from the event. Henley placed 2nd overall by 2 points! The coaches put their all into preparing the Henley team for these races, and executed the weekend in a fun but efficient way. Henley now look forward to hosting the 7km Winter Series Event over the forthcoming months. The first race being on the 4th November. It’s a spectacle for Henley’s community and visitors to watch.

South Coast Trip for HCC

It was supposed to be a trip to Mudeford harbour but the Department of Transport had other ideas with the closure of the M27 to demolish a bridge. Not to be defeated the venue was changed to Chichester Harbour a bit further east. A quick overnight change of plans and we were away.


Brian Roberts and I arrive early to complete planning over coffee and croissants. Lyn and Graham Bliss arrived on time and we met at the water’s edge at Bosham on a fine sunny autumn day – well it was fine and sunny but no sign of water! The tide was out but coming in and within half an hour we were afloat. Our choice of craft for the day was open canoe. A first time for Lyn and Graham. After a 150m walk to the harbour entrance we launched and paddled off up a calm creek among the lines of moored boats.



At this stage the wind was from the south and more in our face than not. The yachting fraternity were getting ready for the day and their races to come. Meanwhile we weaved our way through the boating traffic. Waves from the passing motor boats created a challenging wash but nothing we couldn’t handle.


The bird life was also something different from that usually found on our inland rivers – lots of gulls of course but also the odd little critter picking its way through the mud and grassy topped inlet along the banks or sitting on buoys taking advantage of the sun. Skewers patrolled overhead whilst small groups of Oystercatchers sprinted across the water. There were startlingly white little egrets searching for food on the bank and even a lone Brent goose awaiting the arrival of friends from Russia for the winter.



At the end of the inlet we turned west to make the long paddle down the length of the harbour. Over the last half a mile another first for the Blisses was the use of a canoe sail. Lyn, holding the downwind sail and Graham paddling and steering in the back they discovered another way of propelling their craft. Our own sail that Brian had perfected was more traditional with a mast and fixings set into the canoe. This allowed it to sail closer to the wind.




A stop for lunch on the beach in West Wittering allowed us to enjoy great views over the activity on the harbour. The wind has strengthened a little and yacht racing was in under way. Lunch over and it was back on the water to do the most challenging part of the trip – crossing the harbour entrance.



This was a straight line from West Wittering to Hayling Island. Lyn and Graham set off at a cracking pace. Lyn hanging on manfully to a full sail. The water became decidedly choppy with a 60cm swell crossing our path coming in from the channel. Our sails performed quite well all the way but Lyn had to give up and resort to paddle power owing to the angle and strength of the wind. Nevertheless about 40 minutes later we were across and landing on the beach at Hayling island Yacht club.


An official looking man hurried towards us. With the expectation of a telling off we were surprised to be welcomed to the club by Melvin and made his guests of the club. The most important question of the day was answered also by him – where could we buy an iced cream? In the members restaurant of course! Brilliant! With the sun past the zenith we had to make plans for our return. This first involved a straight down wind run crossing diagonally back across the harbour over to the north shore. Lyn’s sail made this an easy task. Graham steered but they made good speed over the more settled water in an easing wind. The forecast for strengthening wind didn’t happen and it had virtually dropped away to slight puffs just as we arrived on the other side of the harbour. We put the sails away and resorted to the paddling from then on.



The next bit was just over two miles back down the harbour. With the tide turning against us it required grit and determination. We were careful to ensure we turned back up the right inlet to get home – not as easy as it sounds!


The water became a flat calm and as we turned the final corner. Bosham church and the end came into sight. The water was a flat calm with the sun setting behind us making a picture post card view of the village. As we arrived back the scene was completely different from the place we had left in the morning. Mud flats were replaced with a water filled harbour as the level of the water was some three metres higher.

All day sun, great scenery and an opportunity to sail our canoes. A few firsts for Lyn and Graham and an iced cream!

Last week NHS Paramedic Ian Cross provided training in basic first aid and use of the defibrillator for our members.

As part of the NHS initiative for improving Defibrillator availability you will no doubt have seen that our own cabinet is up and running. This included an update of the procedures when faced with an emergency first aid incident. He brought along dummies to try expired air resuscitation and heart compression. His up to date model included lights to show how effective you were so gave a good guide on what you usually cannot see.

He went through how an emergency call is handled by the emergency services operator. How you could prepare for the call although the operator will quickly help you deal with the patient and decide if you need the defibrillator.

Why get a defibrillator? Continue reading “Last week NHS Paramedic Ian Cross provided training in basic first aid and use of the defibrillator for our members.”

River Frontage Refurbishment


The Eyot Centre is to refurbish it’s water frontage in 2018. The work will see the replacement of our landing stages, a new slip way and additional safety features. The river bank has become heavily eroded by river traffic. The bank will be reinforced with ecologically friendly stone in cages to support new bank side planting. There will be an access path along the length of the river to allow wheelchair access and lighting to enable users safe paddling after dark. Continue reading “River Frontage Refurbishment”

BDA National Championship 2017 @ Nottingham

This year, Henley Dragons entered the competition with many teams both 200m and 500m races: Henley Dragons in the Senior and Mixed category, Henley Hens in women, Henley Heads and Tails in Open and even a junior team. Thanks to all the paddlers from Pershore, Bristol and Preston who joined us for some of the categories. Special thanks to Geoff Bushnell who lent us his van to tow our boats. Continue reading “BDA National Championship 2017 @ Nottingham”

D of E section training walk

It was another great session for us yesterday, we had 8 groups (50 participants) completing their training walk around the local woods. This is an opportunity for the groups to work on putting the theory into practice whilst under close supervision for advice and guidance.

The weather was perfect and a good time was had by all groups, with one or two taking a detour due to some tricky navigation in the Rumerhedge Wood around Beechwood Farm.

An evening of paddling films and setting goals for some of the Canoe Club Section Youth members

Some of our youth section spent a fun evening watching paddling films in the clubhouse. The films covered a wide range of paddling themes including the Devises to Westminster, wild free styling and extreme expedition paddling. Plenty of inspiration for when we’re next out on the water.

The group then spent some time looking ahead to the coming year and setting their personal paddling goals. There’s much to look forward to this year with skills progression and some more of our young paddlers starting out on their coaching pathway.

A busy second session for The Duke of Edinburgh section

Yesterday was the second session of this years expedition training and for most of the group it was time to try a get to grips with maps. For some it was a morning spent outside constructing tarpaulin shelters, putting up tents and making hot chocolate on an Trangia.

The map session began looking a a few different map sections and talked about the different symbols, features on the maps, and grid references.The group then used this knowledge to complete a story about the life of Edward, following a route on the map and doing a map symbol quiz.

For the group outside, it was cold and the ground frozen, but they made good shelters and were grateful of the hot chocolate. With the ground so hard the tents were put up inside the centre.

Next week we will be in two groups again, with the Silver group off paddling on the river and the Bronze group learning about working out how far they have travelled and in what direction.