Wednesday 14 June 2023 | by Becky Scillitoe
My fellow paddle enthusiasts!
I’m Becky, and many of you may recognize me as a Crew Member at the Hampton – Molesey AquaPaddle. But last Sunday was a special day for me as I took on the role of Captain for the first time. With 31 enthusiastic paddlers signed up, the pressure was definitely on!
I had three main goals for the event. First, I wanted everything to run smoothly for my debut as Captain. Second, I aimed to avoid any incidents (because, let’s be honest, paperwork is not my idea of fun). And finally, as soon as the event was over, my plan was to jump into the water and cool off. After all, who wants to be in safety gear when the temperature soars to 28 degrees?
The blazing sunshine shenanigans kicked off with the safety briefing. Now, I must admit, public speaking isn’t exactly my forte, but I managed to capture the attention of all our paddlers as they gathered in the shade of the morning trees. Well, the fact that no one went off course leads me to believe they were listening. Fingers crossed!
Before the heat threatened to turn our paddleboards and kayaks into molten lava, we ensured everyone was equipped with sun cream and ready to go. With all the Crew and paddlers in position, the whistle blew, and off they went like a fleet of speedy superheroes.
Honestly, I suspect some of them had secret motors underneath!
As a mere mortal, I struggled to keep up with the lightning-fast kayakers and hardboard paddlers. It felt like they were on a mission to break the sound barrier! Accompanied by two other Crew members, I made my way passed Platts Eyot to witness the paddlers rounding Liz, our Top End Marker, and heading back down past halfway. It was quite a sight!
With the scorching sun showing no mercy, our biggest challenge was finding a water bottle that wasn’t boiling hot. Dehydrated and desperate, we resorted to sipping lukewarm water that had transformed into a portable sauna. Ah, the sacrifices we make in the name of AquaPaddle!
As the paddlers passed us, we made sure everyone was doing okay and slowly returned down the river to meet the infamous “Time Lord,” Anthony. With his clipboard, iPad, and timer in hand, he kept everything running like clockwork. Dodging sunseekers and narrowboats, I arrived just in time to witness a record-breaking moment—a K1 kayaker completing the 5k paddle in a mind-boggling 28 minutes!
Once most of the paddlers had crossed the finish line, many couldn’t resist the allure of the cool Thames waters. Generally, remembering to keep their heads above the water. If you know, you know.
Unfortunately, as the person in charge, I had to remain at the finish line, unable to join the refreshing dip. But fear not, Tim, our resident cool dude and all-around lovely guy, decided to take matters into his own hands. With a mischievous grin, he splashed me with cold water, providing the perfect moment of relief and laughter!
As the final paddlers approached, with a sea of orange-shirted Crew cheering them on, they crossed the finish line, sweaty and tired but filled with a sense of accomplishment. I must say, my first AquaPaddle as Captain was a success. The fantastic teamwork and paddlers looking out for one another made for a delightful Sunday morning in the sunshine.
And to top it all off, we celebrated with well-deserved 99 Ice Creams, complete with a Flake!
Because what better way to end a paddling adventure than with a sweet treat?
Until next time, keep paddling and keep laughing!
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