Devizes to Westminster update

Our team of fourteen Lower Sixth pupils have recently christened their new kayaks as training ramps up for the infamous Devizes to Westminster (DW) canoe race, often known as ‘The Canoeist’s Everest’.

Over the Easter weekend, the team will attempt to paddle the 125 miles between Devizes to Westminster in three and a half days - the equivalent of more than a marathon each day. Dauntsey’s has been entering teams for the DW for more than 40 years and this year’s team will be paddling their new, lightweight kayaks in aid of ‘Malaria No More’. 

The DW crew will set off from Devizes early on Good Friday morning, paddling eastwards towards Westminster along the Kennet and Avon canal, before joining the Thames at Reading. The teams of two paddle marathon kayaks and camp overnight at Newbury, Marlow and Teddington, before finishing the last 17 mile sprint on Easter Monday morning with the outgoing tide. In total, the paddlers race 125 miles against teams from many British schools and competitors around the world.

Dauntsey's has a long history of participating in the DW. Thankfully the boats we use today are a bit lighter and easier to manoeuver than the ones used back in the 1970s! We start training for the race in January and the crews have to learn quickly how to keep the boats from capsizing - not something all of them manage easily. Because we train for just one term, the sessions are tough. Progress has to be rapid and the distances covered during each training session quickly increases from an unsteady 3 miles to more than 30. “Every crew crosses the finish line at Westminster knowing they have completed the most physically challenging 3.5 days of their lives. As we go through the training in freezing cold and wet conditions, it’s a source of great motivation for the team to know they are raising much needed funds for ‘Malaria No More’.” Sam Moore, Head of Adventure Education

Dauntsey’s DW Team for Easter 2016

  • Abbie Mitchell / Milly Sampson
  • Barney Spooner / Will Everett
  • Charlotte Wilks / Alice Walton-Knight
  • Cherry Ip / Rosie Martin - Barton
  • Hadyn Kiff / Myles Appleby
  • Nathan Sturges / James Western
  • Yasemin Botterill / Ellen Hicken

Please support our team

If anyone would like to support Dauntsey’s DW crews and make a donation to ‘Malaria No More’, please go to their Just Giving Page and you might also like to view their fundraising video below.

Extract from Dauntsey's DW crew report 1981

“At 0300 in the morning we were woken by a fresh faced official shouting “Hi de hi campers!” With only 17 miles left to Westminster, we crept into the “pencil” (canoe) and were immediately capsized by a pair of idiots knocking our stern.
We were soon woken up by the very cold Thames water. Today we were expecting a restful day because we were going along with the tide but this expectation only lasted three miles. The wind suddenly got up and we weren’t moving. We had the infamous tide against wind syndrome. The waves got up and a number of crews capsized.
From now on our concentration was at a maximum, just trying to keep ourselves upright and away from nasty bridge piers, as currents tried to drag us towards them. We had a nasty shock when we got caught in a whirlpool and were sent hurtling towards three moored barges. With only a metre or so to spare we managed to avoid them.”