The fifth annual Oxfam Exe Kayak Rally, organised by Exe Sailing Club and sponsored by Graham Sykes Insurance, proved to be another big success, on and off the water, despite the weather doing its best to spoil things.
With adverse weather conditions predicted for the day of South Westerly gales, a decision regrettably had to be made on the Wednesday to cancel the river section of the rally and restrict paddlers to the sheltered waters of the canal. The early decision gave sufficient notice to stand down safety boat crews scheduled on the river and to allow participants to make alternative arrangements for returning their kayaks after the rally.
In spite of the amended course 60 boats took to the water, including one dragon boat and two stand up paddle boarders. Altogether there were 86 paddlers. The first kayakers left Exeter basin at 8.15 am in pouring rain which eased off for the last ones leaving by 9 am. The weather soon warmed up afterwards and, with no pressure as in previous years to get to The Turf by high tide to reassemble on the river, many kayakers took advantage of a more leisurely paddle enjoying the scenery and wild life of the canal.
All paddlers reached The Turf by 11 am where raffle prizes were given out to the winning paddlers as they were checking in. Each entrant qualified for a free draw in the raffle with prizes generously donated by Edge Watersports, Liquid Motion, Peter Dixon, allGadgets Marine, The Beach Pub and The Waterfront Restaurant in Exmouth, and at Exeter Basin AS Watersports, Saddles & Paddles, and the Venezia Italian.
With entrance fees, on line giving and generous sponsorship from Graham Sykes Insurance, it is estimated that the event raised £1,400 for Oxfam.
Nick Webber, the Principle Rally Officer, commented: “As it turned out the wind speed and direction were not as predicted. There were no South Westerly gusts of 34 mph. The wind actually had moderated and had veered around to a northerly direction which could have permitted us to have entered the river after all. However, many commented that we had made the right decision at the time and for many of us who had never kayaked back up the canal, the return trip, in spite of the challenging north wind, was of great interest giving us a splendid vista of the Exeter skyline as it came into view”.
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