By Caroline Braine
Tomas Valatka and Gintaras Kaminskas took part in Waterside B for Eastbrook Comprehensive School in their preparation for the Devizes to Westminster. They paddled 17 ½ miles from Newbury to Aldermaston and back and had to undertake a total of 19 portages.
Tomas and Gintaras completed the 17 ½ miles finishing in 9th place out 47 paddlers in a time of 2hrs 49 minutes, which is a fantastic achievement for both students who are only 15 years old and have only kayaked for two years. The boys were competing against paddlers from the top clubs and schools in the country. They were beaten by two school crews one from Kimbolton School and one from Byanston School. Tomas and Gintaras managed to beat other crews from both schools along with Marlborough College, Churcher’s College, Millfield School, Lord Wandsworth School, Langley School and Cranleigh School.
Waterside C consisted of paddling 23 miles from Pewsey to Newbury with a total of 35 portages. This race was set to be the toughest challenge yet as they had never paddled such a distance. Throughout the race both Tomas and Gintaras looked to be at their strongest so far this year. The distance of 23 miles and 35 miles did not faze them at all. They finished the race in an exceptional time of 3 hours 57 minutes, finishing in 11th place out of 52.
Tomas Valatka and Gintaras Kaminskas took part in their final build up race Waterside D for the school in their preparation for the Devizes to Westminster on Sunday 25th March 2012. They paddled 34 miles from Devizes to Newbury and had to undertake a total of 35 portages.
The boys were all checked in at 6am and started paddling just after 7 on what was a cold spring morning. The race was their toughest challenge yet with a number of contributing factors including the distance, the predicted weather and an early start with the clocks going forwards.
The first 15 miles of the race did not include any portages so Tomas and Gintaras made the most of it averaging nearly 6mph. Anyone who paddles on a regular basis would tell you that paddling over this distance without getting out of the boat poses some numbness in number of areas of the body, this was no exception for the boys. As they undertook their first portage it was a slow process due to their legs turning to jelly and feeling numb. After a stretch and drink the boys manage to run their first portage and every proceeding one including a mile long portage, which is not easy to run whilst carrying the kayak and paddle.
Throughout the race the Tomas and Gintaras were well supported by Mr Sullivan, Miss Braine and a number of Barking and Dagenham Canoe Club coaches and members including Bill and Maria Playle, Eddie Gregory and Stelian Naftanaila. This proved to be a great assistance to both boys especially whilst at their lowest point around the 20 mile mark, where both Bill Playle and Stelian Naftanaila ran along the canal bank with the boys for a number of miles cheering them on. A big thank you goes to all of you for giving up your weekend and showing your support.
Tomas and Gintaras finish the 34 mile race in style with high spirits and big smiles in 6 hours 3 minutes in 5th place out of 38 competitors. They were only beaten by two other school crews Kimbolton School and Kelly College.
Tomas and Gintaras finished the waterside series in 5th place out of 29 which is an absolute outstanding achievement when you take into account that both boys are only 15 years of age. Gintaras has only been paddling for 13 months and Tomas just over 2 years. They were only beaten by one other school crew from Kimbolton School and only just missed out on 4th place. We would like to congratulate both boys on your outstanding achievement and wish you every luck for the 125 mile Devizes to Westminster over the Easter Weekend.