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Autumn in August

Tuesday 8 August 2023 | by Brett Scillitoe

I think the Summer of 2023 will be remembered for a Flaming June and then it quickly turned to Autumn, with most weekends affected by high winds and rain. But us AquaPaddlers are hardy souls and as long as the wind wasn’t too strong, we would be out there running an Event. Some events have had to be cancelled due safety reasons caused by those high winds. Others, such as the last two AquaPaddles at Hampton – Molesey have gone ahead. We are lucky as most of the route is sheltered by high trees and the winds within limits.

Tim heading downwind

Sunday, 6th August started fine with a light breeze. Great conditions for an AquaPaddle. We had 21 people arrive and check in with our new, temporary, Time Lord, who was giving everyone a warm welcome.

Robert on a board
Robert doing well on his new board

With the safety briefing done which included examples of Buoyancy Aids we would like people to wear, including inflatable versions, we headed for the water. Unfortunately, one of the double inflatable Kayaks had to pull out as it had sprung an air leak. We were sorry to see them go as they were “First Timers”. We look forward to welcoming them back, once they have repaired their craft.

Gareth on his new board
Gareth pushing on

It seemed that the weather had been waiting for us to start, as no sooner had the whistle been blown, that we started to get increased gust of wind, which split the fleet up a bit. Fortunately within about 200 metres of the start there is shelter from the wind with some large trees.

Paddler with dog on board
Glenn with Muttley

Devon, one of our regular faster AquaPaddlers, had volunteered and was the Top End Turn Point Crew member. Once the paddlers had passed him, it was back downstream with the wind mostly behind them. There is nothing like a bit of downwinding on our route. Especially passed the historic Platts Eyott and heading for Hampton Church and the Shakespeare Temple.

Inflatable Kayak
Rob heading to the finish with Helen the Sweeper in the background

The 2 remaining Inflatable Kayaks were doing well in the conditions, however, we had a couple of Newbies stop halfway. This is perfectly acceptable. We much rather people come and have a go and stop, than either not come along or push themselves to the point of not being safe.

Paddleboarder pushing hard
Victoria giving it everything

Once passed Liz, our Crew Member at Molesey Boat Club, the paddlers headed once more upstream and towards the finish line. They were accompanied by the crew on their way back, with Helen the Sweeper bring up the rear. All had a good time and most were able to stay and welcome home those coming after them with cheers and claps.

Paddlers heading to the finish
Paddlers heading to the finish

Finally, we headed back to our launch point. Our Time Lord, Ewa, even got a little sailing in thanks to her Red Paddle Change Robe 😁

Using a rode to sail on a paddleboard
The Time Lord Sailing home

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