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Frome Canoe Club

Volume 40 Issue 12: December 2016

To all our members: We wish you a very Merry Christmas. Keep paddling!

The Dart weekend - paddlers and bikers. See p8 for the report

The Tremendous Teign. See p14 for the report Frome Canoe Club is affiliated to British Canoeing and is a Registered Charity (Number 1104728) 1


THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE President Graham Warnecke Vice Presidents Richard and Jane Arney Jim and Catharine Croft Chairman Andy Vowell Vice Chairman Gareth McGiveron Treasurer John Kent Secretary Pam Dixon 16 Blagdon Walk, Frome, BA11 2YH Committee Members Rich Carter Richard Heal Jonathan Howell Tracey Lemon Stuart Miles Jack Smiles Kit Officer Jack Smiles


In this issue CALENDAR in detail 3 Calendar in brief 4 River Usk trip River Dart Trip Pool sessions 5 New Years Day Paddle Afon Tawe trip 6 Quiz night DVD night Winter Wednesdays 7 Canoe Polo Club Social and Awards night REPORTS 8 Dart weekend by Rich C 10 Canoe Slalom Training by Chris W 12 River Frome Trip (was to be Barle trip) 14 Tremendous Teign by Andy V OTHER THINGS 17 From the committee 18 Letter from Woody 19 Spotlight on Members 20 Club survey

Send articles for the next issue to by 27th December Please help us to promote a smokefree club by refraining from smoking publicly at all our events.



Calendar 2016 – 17 Date


Who for


December 4

River Usk

2 Star +



Last Pool session


Pam D


Quiz Night


Pam D


River Dart

1 Star +



Clubhouse CLOSED


Rich C


NO Saturday session


Rich C


New Years Day paddle

Passport/1 Star

Rich C


Pool sessions RESTART


Pam D


Afon Tawe

Grade 3 paddlers

Andy V


DVD – Chasing Niagara




Canoe Polo (contact game)


Jack S


River Barle

Grade 2 paddlers

Gareth Mc


Rescues workshop


Jack +Andy


Canoe Polo (non-contact game)


Jack S


Afternoon Club session


Rich C


Club Social and Awards


Pam D


Frome Canoe Club: Affiliated to British Canoeing and Registered Charity 1104728 3


Calendar in detail - paddling stuff RIVER DART

RIVER USK 4th December Meet Market Yard: 8am Cost: £15

18th December Meet Market Yard: 8am Cost: £15

Organiser: John Kent

Organiser: Rich Carter

The intention is to paddle the Usk from Sennybridge to Aberbran, a distance of about 5 miles.

We are planning to do the Loop and the Lower sections today:

This has a series of grade 2 rapids and three rocky ledges in the first mile.

Loop - for 2 Star+ paddlers Lower - for less the experienced paddler. Good for open boats too.

In the event of the river being too low (or too high) we will try to find some other comparable river.

We may be able to get in an Upper trip as well. Let us know if you are interested.

You need to be at Two Star standard for this trip. Warm undergarments are essential and a decent cag etc. A packed lunch in a waterproof box or bag which fits in a kayak will also be needed.

Return about 6pm. Bring a packed lunch. Warm, waterproof paddling gear is absolutely essential. You can borrow kit from the club on the morning.

You can pick up club kit on the morning of the trip.

FRIDAY POOL SESSIONS, 8-9PM. At Frome Sports and Fitness Centre, BA11 2SA We have a break over Christmas, so our last session this year is 9th December. We restart on January 6th 2017.



Calendar in detail RIVER TAWE


8th January Meet Market Yard: 8am Cost £15 Organiser: Andy

1st January Meet Market Yard: 10am Cost £3 Organiser: Rich Carter

The Afon Tawe is in South Wales about two and a quarter hours from Frome. It is a grade 3+ river with a grade 4 fall. The fall is easily inspected and portaged. It is also great fun to run.

Notice the later start A chance to get some fresh air after all that celebration of the night before! We generally paddle a short section of the River Frome and so there is only a little driving involved followed by a gentle paddle, hopefully.

This river is a step up from the River Dart Loop. So if you're comfortable on the Loop running everything on sight then the Tawe could be a river for you. You'll need a full white water spec boat, and a decent roll would be an advantage.

You need to be dressed warmly with good thermals and a sensible cag. We will get changed in the clubhouse and drive to the get on when we are loaded.

The river is very level dependent and can be boney if low and a raging torrent if high. If we do get too much water, the nearby bouncy fun run down the Ogmore will be our reserve choice. More details on the river are here: Note that that guide is at high water levels which would not be our aim to do, so you can take a grade off that guide. As it's a short run we'll probably repeat it as time allows, it's that good fun. Here is Jack's film of last year's run.

This trip is for everyone who has Passport or One Star (and above) providing you are going to be able to keep warm. And it’s an advantage if you can wear a spraydeck so that you can do the weirs. 5


Non paddling calendar CHRISTMAS QUIZ NIGHT


14thDecember At the Clubhouse 7pm for a 7.30 start.

11th January At the Clubhouse 7pm for a 7.15 start

In teams of about 5 (and we make them up on the night depending on who comes), we will pit our wits against the Quiz Master, Dave.

Recommended by George, we will watch this just-released dvd ‘Chasing Niagara’. When pro kayaker Rafa Ortiz makes the decision to paddle over Niagara Falls, he sets in motion an incredible series of events that eventually take on a life of their own. To prepare for this mission, Rafa enlists the help of world-renowned paddler Rush Sturges and a tight team of their friends. Together they go on a remarkable three-year journey from the rainforest rivers of Mexico to the towering waterfalls of the U.S. Northwest. Their journey concludes in Canada where the team plays a cat-andmouse game with local police before Rafa’s mission comes to a heart-stopping climax at the iconic Falls.

The questions will include news, canoeing and general knowledge. Last year we had some merriment and even banter as groups vied for winning positions. They are always great fun, and quite light-hearted! Do come!

WINTER WEDNESDAYS 21st Dec - Clubhouse closed 28th Dec - Clubhouse closed Back to normal on 4th January

Chasing Niagara trailer is here 6


Calendar in detail CANOE POLO On Fridays in the pool sessions


We fit in a game of canoe polo into the pool session every other week. Some games are non-contact, so there is no pushing in when tackling. These games are good for everyone - why don’t you come and have a go!

At the Clubhouse Cost £5 adults, £4 youth 7pm for a 7.30 buffet

Other games are for experienced paddlers where the action is fast and furious, so a good roll is helpful.

We celebrate all that was good about 2016 in this event and give out the awards to recognise members’ successes. We also present that important Copper Noseclip for the person with the most swims. Who will it be this year?

December : Non Contact game - 2nd Dec January: Contact game - 13th Jan Non contact game - 27th Jan

So do come to share this evening with us. We need to know numbers so let Pam know if you can come.

The canoe polo games are usually played in the Blue band session, so people not wanting to play polo are able to have a ‘normal’ pool session in the Red band paddling slot (or the White bands if we are running three session that night).

A buffet is included in the ticket price. Dress is informal. No dancing is allowed, and no party games!


It’s all very chilled.

RESTARTS 6th January 2017 7


Dart weekend - by Rich Carter The Dart Weekend - or you could re name it: It is so tiring paddling over rocks. For a Dart weekend with our worst water levels ever, we had a good turn-out and a good time. The members who were set to do the Upper, abandoned the concept of kayaking and brought their bikes instead. They had two days of mountain biking, except that most decided not to go with Nick on Sunday - something about ‘it will kill us to keep up with him’. For the rest of us we stayed with the original plan: Loop and Lower. So on Saturday some of us paddled the Loop from Newbridge to Buckfastleigh and others did the Lower. I am not really sure if it was the best decision for those to do the Loop, but we still did it. Yes it was low, I mean low! But I was surprised at how much could be paddled, without running into rocks. However, we knew that when the younger paddlers ran aground, us older ones never had a chance! Besides the hard work, every one enjoyed themselves, but it was nice to finish. The group on the Lower had the best paddling of all, as there is always water to paddle in, even in low water levels. On the Saturday the group did lots of training which gave them a long, but an enjoyable day, with, lots of eddy hopping, small shoots, rapids to play and train in. By all accounts they had a brilliant time.



Dart weekend - continued So on the Sunday we all ran the Lower, with some of the group doing training, and others paddling over every large rock they could find. But a good end to a fun weekend. It goes without saying “Please can we have more water next year”.

21 Paddlers and 26 Points Girls: Izzi F Boys: Bartek H, Finn J, Jacob L (6), Jos M (3), Otto J Women: Binkie H, Nikki W (9), Pam D, Sarah R Men: Chris H (8), Gareth Mc, Jim R, John K, Jonathan H, Mark B, Nick K, Rich C, Steve T, Stuart M, Terry O’N Bikers Ben N, Bill F, George Mc, Rich N and Nick K on Sunday Ed: TBH I lost the sheet with the points written down and so the ones recorded above are all that we can remember at this late stage. Do email me if you have any corrections to make! We have another Dart trip in the Calendar - 18th December. If you enjoyed the Dart weekend, be sure to put that date in your diary.



Canoe Slalom training run. Then I offered some coaching before all paddlers took a second timed run to see how much faster we had got.

South West Canoe Slalom training group By Chris Wilde

Due to it being cold (about 4oC according to the car), we all kept paddling lots and consequently I think we used a lot of energy. Despite multiple attempts I think no one improved their time! Never mind this was a training session not a race after all!

When much of the club was heading West to the River Dart, a last minute decision found myself and Toby heading north to Symonds Yat. I had decided to go on a mission to meet with Mike Mitchell and the other paddlers from local clubs who make up the south-west canoe slalom training group.

For the second half of the session we swapped to the top part of the rapid. This time we set a course with a tricky four gate stagger sequence (4 downstream gates offset across the river). This time no timing just some good practice over this tricky gate sequence. Some found it easiest performing a spin on the second gate (which was in an eddy) others enjoyed the excitement of running the sequence all downstream with some big reverse strokes and some crazy ‘enders’.

We travelled to meet the others at the Yat for 9.00am, changed quickly and jumped onto the river, which, unlike our recent club trip was running at a ‘summer’ level with most of the rocks showing. Quickly several training slalom gates were sent flying out over the river, and then with a quick warm up we were off. We started with ten paddlers on the water. This number grew as the temperature rose. Toby and myself joined the other Div 3 paddlers from Wyedean Canoe Club on the lower part of the rapid, while the Div 2 and Div 1 paddlers used the top part.

Soon enough our hands were plenty cold and with aching arms we made our way back to the cars for an early lunch. The Wyedean members were meeting for a polo game in the afternoon whereas Toby and I took out our Tupperware boats out for some surfing action on the standing waves.

I set a simple course involving four upstream gates and a few tricky downstreams thrown in for good measure. We all had a practice and a first timed

It was a lovely day if a little cold and 10


River CanoeExe slalom and Exeter training Ship continued Canal we had the rapid to ourselves! We were completely worn out by 12.30 (or at least Toby was “unable to paddle another stroke”), so we got changed and loaded up.

canoe slalom training group is on 16th to 18th December in Llandyssul. Details are on Facebook or speak to John or myself about it.

On our way home, the satnav took us for a drive off into the wilderness where we stumbled upon a clearance sale at a certain canoe store; one more rearrangement of the roof rack to fit the extra boat on and we drove home after a thoroughly fun day! If all this has whetted your appetite for some winter slalom training then the next planned meeting of the south-west

In the meantime there may be the opportunity to meet up for some more training at some other point either at Symonds Yat or Dulverton. If you are interested then make sure you let me know (or contact me on Facebook). I know this sounds a bit vague but a lot depends on water levels as well as the small factor of us moving house at some point between now and Christmas.

Ed: Thank you Chris for this article. It’s always good to hear about other events which members take part in. For those of you unaware, Chris has been doing something new in the club this autumn. He has been running a slalom training group at the early time of 4pm-5pm on Wednesdays. Popular with young people just coming home from school, it has had a good turn out right until the weather became cool! It would be good to get feedback from participants so please email Andy, Rich or Pam with your views. In the meantime, the committee would like to pass on our THANKS TO YOU, Chris, for starting this new initiative in the club! And finally, we wish you good luck in your imminent house move. (PS: thanks for passing on details of Toby’s swim in your slalom training on 23rd November. What a caring father you are!) 11


River Barle relocates to the Mendips on 20th November Seismic movements of the earth’s crust happened overnight and when we woke up on that Sunday morning the Barle was no longer on Exmoor but was instead running nicely in the east Mendips! Well I ask you: will we ever get to run the Barle again? The first one this season, in October, was cancelled with a serious absence of rain in the run up. November’s one also had to be cancelled for the opposite reason – far too much rain. So a change of plan was hatched as we gathered at the clubhouse that morning. We debated some alternatives: the Wye, the Marden, the canal (!) and so on. It didn’t take long to settle for the Frome! We were off! The water was fast. Warnings from Rich about staying in the middle, and out of the trees were to be expected. Warnings about ‘… either paddle

forwards or paddle backwards, but don’t do nothing’ were also heeded. However he forgot to remind us that in moving water you let go of your boat when you capsize and when poor Phil swum there was some serious shouting to be heard - ‘Let go of your boat, let go of your boat’. I think he knows now. The stoppers at the weirs were mostly too big to contemplate and only a few ran Beckington and Shawford. Of course Chris and Toby in the Topo Duo did pretty much everything, whilst others looked on, wishing... However, Woolverton weir was silly – no one did that. We all ran Cliffords Mill which was a big wave and no drop. Same for Rode Mill weir. The speed of the water carried us fast to the end and we were done at 1pm. So back home to a nice warm fire and

Chris and Toby play on Cliffords Mill weir. 12


River River Exerelocation and Exetercontinued Ship Canal a cooked Sunday roast! Brilliant. And to think we had a relatively warm day in contrast to the weather predictions of earlier in the week. And yes Alun, we were able to get changed in the dry! 13 Paddlers and 6 points Boys: Jacob L , Toby W Ladies: Binkie H (3), Nicky C, Pam D Men: Alun J, Andrew L, Chris W, Gareth Mc, Stuart M, Phil L (3), Rich C and Tom K.

There’s always one isn’t there? Ed: the next Barle trip is in the calendar on 22nd January!

Thank you Mark for doing some more repairs to the lights in our clubhouse.

T H A N K S 13

Thank you John for painting out graffiti on the containers at the clubhouse.


Tremendous Teign - 19th November forcing us to employ some skilled manoeuvring to maintain momentum. It wasn't long before we came upon one on the river's main events.

By Andy Vowell An optimistic crowd turned up for the Teign trip. A week of watching water levels had resulted in a paddleable if not particularly gushing 0.69m gauge report that would at least have us floating all the way down the river. Much of the club kept their powder dry for the following day's Barle trip with a promised higher water (HaHaHa laughing smugly), so only a select few of six prime paddlers from Frome met Bex at the Dogmarsh bridge get-on.

The Teign Weir is a nasty beast, two thirds a double drop with a nasty wall and rolling stopper in the middle, and one third a triple drop with a right angle stopper at the top. A nasty towback on the second, and a shoot pushing you into a rock on one side and log on the other for the third. With three line choices as well, our intrepid paddlers used their knowledge and wits to decide which was best for them.

Whilst the drivers did the tortuous shuttle the others devised several ways of getting down the steep bank to the freezing water. After contriving the warmest and driest methodology, they instructed the returning drivers the exact opposite to ensure they embarked in the wettest coldest way possible. Suitably grateful for their considerate merriment as the water created an icicle down my nose I led the group onward.

Myself, then Tim C went for the right

The Teign is a river which winds its way down a deep wooded Dartmoor valley which was looking splendid in autumn colours and a weak winter sun shining through. We dodged a few rocks on the first section with the low river levels channelling the water and 14


Tremendous Teign continued hand line dropping into the right angle stopper and seeing a bit of sky as it pushed our sterns under, but then shooting us out and straight over the next two drops. Mark took the rocky wide left hand route avoiding the top two stoppers and flying at speed out through the bottom. Bex, Tim S, Terry and Jonathon all

The next few rapids were tight boulder gardens needing precise paddlestrokes to negotiate successfully. The tight corners of the Teign making us adopt an alpine paddling style of eddy hopping around the bends and calling the next guy down as we took the next slot and drop.

took the centre line, the first stopper slowing them down enough for the second to take a little nibble before dropping over the third. Everybody made it through. Excellent paddling by all.

A tree across one slot took a bit more thought, but with a few hearty paddles and a nose up flick this was soon dispatched with aplomb. We continued down the river catching a flash of blue every now and then, as the kingfisher scouting ahead of us made its diving skims across the Continued on p 16 15


Tremendous Teign continued decapitation situation.

water. The walkers on both sides of the river waved and cheered as we passed with a few whoops thrown in, and we zoomed around a circular weir chute into the pool below.

Tim C eventually took pity on them, jumping out of his boat to tug Jonathon's pole out of Bex's way, clearing the channel for the rest of the team to go down.

Several chutes and boulder gardens later we reached our final obstacle, a rough rocky semi natural weir with a broken fish ladder to the right. Tim C took the role of blind probe and bobbed down a promising route. That one was a bit crunchy so looking back up he suggested we took another slightly to the left to avoid the sharper rocks. Mark and I dutifully followed but Mark dislodged a 10metre log into the route. There then followed a Laurel and Hardy half hour (or chuckle brothers moment for younger viewers) as Bex and Jonathon turned a small wood intrusion into a full-on

And so the team drifted to the end of the Teign at Steps bridge, Terry going a little bit further than the rest of us to avoid the nice sandy beach get-out in favour of a rooty muddy clamber. Great Paddle, great river and great team. Paddling in the Tremendous Teign Team today were: Andy Vowell, Mark Baines, Tim Snook, Terry O'Neil, Bex Tanti, Tim Cottle and Jonathan Howell.



From your committee: some good news! After every summer season the committee reviews, along with help from the Coaches, just how successful the season was. Some suggestions for next year from the meeting:  Chloe had a brilliant suggestion to set up colour coded notice boards so that young people can look to see what are the next steps for them. And she offered to spear-head the development.  The Tiverton pre-meeting was a good idea and needs now to be refined.  Polo group - we need to think of a foolproof way to stop paddlers just travelling through the Polo group on Wednesdays.  We have to set better course dates for the Two Star.  And interestingly the new-for2016-Skills-group did not take off; paddlers instead choosing fun and games! So next year we will try to get young people onto actual courses.

The main points from the Coaches meeting :  The Tuesday Adult group was a major success. Led by Alan C, we saw a big retention of adults through the season and on into the ww winter programme.  Slalom group on Wednesdays: there was a lot of help given by our up-and-coming young slalomists and we need to harness the offers of help from them next year.  Red group: although slow to take off, paddlers showed great improvement as the season progressed. They benefited from playing polo when there was space.  The welcome person at the door (Linz) was a great success and now we need to think of ways to keep a free-running corridor.

In summary Rich said “2016 has been a very positive summer season. It was good to hear the constructive and supportive comments made by coaches.” He said that negative comments are always an indicator of (bad) feelings and at the Coaches meeting there were absolutely no negative comments at all. This was noted and welcomed, giving a clear indication of a successful season. Rich thanked all the coaches and volunteers for their commitment. We can’t run our club without all your help given so generously. 17


Woody’s letter from China Hello fellow paddlers, I've been following the canoe club's activities on Facebook. It means a great deal to me to have that access so that I still feel part of the club and feel connected to club members. It's great seeing the photos; they really make me smile, especially the one taken on the recent Dart weekend of all of you standing in front of the wall in your paddling gear. It brought back such lovely memories of last year. I am slowly settling into my new existence, but I wouldn't go quite so far as to call it a new 'life' yet! I teach History, English and Literature at an English-speaking private college for 14-19 year old Chinese students in the city of Suzhou (pronounced Soo-jo) which is about a half an hour train journey west from Shanghai. I love my job, but I'm not very keen on living in a city. Suzhou is renowned for its classical gardens and

network of canals and rivers, which have earned it the nickname 'Venice of the East'. But Suzhou is also a contemporary Chinese metropolis, and as such it is a dangerously polluted concrete jungle of high rise apartment blocks, bright neon lights and a population exceeding 9 million. Due to air and light pollution there are no stars. Other than stray dogs, the only sign of non-human life I have spotted is one small flock of birds, a worm and a solitary bat. And the only hill within the confines of the city is man-made and costs the equivalent of six pounds to walk up in order to look at a pagoda that looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Pagoda at Tiger Hill, Suzhou

Apart from the sheer volume of people and adjusting to living in a city, there are many aspects of Chinese life I find somewhat bewildering… Shang Tang Jie, Suzhou

Ed: Woody goes on to mention these things in her letter. Look here for Woody’s whole letter with pictures. It is truly amazing!



Spotlight on Members George here messing about, but he worked all evening at the pool one week recently up the ladder, drilling and fixing the pulleys. So perhaps he’s allowed to mess about! HOWEVER, just look at how many boats Gareth has got hanging for us. Pure Genius! Thank you Gareth. And thanks also go to Big Jim for sorting out the metal work. Thank you Gareth, Jim and George.

Nikki Webster ‘Smiles all round’! Nikki picks up a few points on the Dart weekend (well 9 to be exact). One of the swims was rather strange: Nikki

just sat very still hanging onto Nick who had come to rescue her, smile on her face, not a care in the world. Nikki you are supposed to do something/help the rescuer…! Maybe she just sat very still because water was slowly filling her boat and she rather liked the feel of it! 19

CONTACTS Chairman: Andy Vowell 07584 069432 Vice Chair: Gareth McGiveron Treasurer: John Kent 01225 765168 Secretary: Pam Dixon 07740 472982 Head Coach: Rich Carter 01373 864623 Youth Rep: Tracey Lemon

Please click here to take the survey

Tell us your views! The committee is always looking for ways to improve the club, and this is one way you can let us know your views. Gareth and Jack have attended a Polo refs course and are now fully qualified Olympic standard referees! So there’ll be no illegal tackles from now on!

Volunteer Rep: Jonathan Howell Kit: Jack Smiles Safety Officer: Rich Carter Welfare Officer: Pam Dixon

Photo by Nik Palmer

THANK YOU KATE: for the sewage talk! Follow us on facebook

It was a really enlightening and refreshing talk (could one ever describe sh*t as being refreshing?) The samples were good as was the Tardigrade (microscope work). We can now stop blaming sewage works!

Canoeing and kayaking are “Assumed risk” – “Water contact sports” that may carry attendant risks. Participants should be aware of and accept these risks, and be responsible for their own action and involvement. 20

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