1st Ever British University Creek Race in Scotland
The inaugural British University Creek Race took place last weekend with students from across the UK heading to the remote Scottish glen Etive to race to become British University Creek Race Champion. This was the first time students could race in an event that the majority of UK University canoe clubs practice and as such was something not to be missed.
Unusually dry weather leading up the race meant it was not possible to hold it down the Middle Etive section of white water but instead on 2 shorter courses where times were combined to determine the winner. These sections were 2 laps of Triple Step and 2 laps of the upper Allt A’ Chaorainn and with all 4 laps contributing to the final time being consistent was key to get the win.
Race briefing was held at the Glen Coe Ski Centre before everyone was shuttled to the start of the first race section, Triple Step. This was a fast and furious 1 minute sprint which even in low water levels provided a tough technical challenge with many races getting caught out on the second drop and knocked into the two eddies either side of the narrow exit. After 2 laps, Dave Burne led the way followed closely by Callum Strong and Nick Bennett.
The Alumni boaterX then got underway for non-students where the first of 4 races consisted of a running start and no paddles allowed making things even more interesting. Matt Cooke took an early lead and stayed ahead to get the win. In the second race they were given back their paddles but had their spray decks taken off them. As they set off, Matt Cooke quickly got in the lead again only to throw it away as his helmet fell off letting Ben Johnston past and taking victory.
With energy levels topped up thanks to the free Red Bull on offer the event moved to the second race course, the Allt A’ Chaorainn. The boaterX finals were first too race down the steep slides. Patrick Jenner and Matt Cooke both claimed wins in the final 2 races securing Matts place at the top of the podium with Patrick and Ben in joint second place.
The students then had their turn to race down the 2 minute course and with the first rapid a fast rocky shoot launching you down river everyone was a little nervous about staying up right as they climbed into their boats. The low water levels meant aggression was crucial in keeping your boat moving over the rocky sections and the flat sprint in the middle of the course zapped any remaining energy before the final slides as everyone races to get to the finish line as fast as possible.
Times were tight and with no way of knowing the final result everyone made their way back to the Glen Coe Ski Centre for prizes and a showing of the film HIGH, a British kayak film.
In the ladies race Jessica Mueller took first place along with an Immersion Research onesie and pro deal, followed closely by Kirsty Macmillan and Gemma Clements clinching third place.
In the overall competition Struan Macdonald got third place, just behind Vincent Lemonnier with Dave Burne crowned British University Creek Race Champion along with the cash prize from Zet Kayak and cag from Rapid Kayaks.
Thanks to Kayak Session, Zet Kayak UK, Rapid Kayaks, Go Kayaking Scotland, Pyranha Kayaks, Fire It Up, Peak UK, System X Distribution, Tunnocks, Alp Kit, World Kayak and Immersion Research for supporting the event and providing the prizes.