Welsh Schools Canoeing Championships

  • By Sarah Oldham
  • 31 Aug, 2017

Welsh Schools Canoeing Championships are a big part of this year's games

Gemau Cymru 2017 kicks off this Friday, 30th of June at Cardiff International White Water Centre - and the Welsh Schools Canoeing Championships are a big part of this year's games, with races taking place all day on Friday!

This event is open to any child attending a school in Wales - and it's not too late to enter.

Registration will be at 12:30 with the first races starting at 14:00. Late entries will be accepted on the day, at registration.

The official opening ceremony for Gemau Cymru will also be at the centre, starting at 17:00.

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By Canoe Wales 05 Dec, 2017

Canoe Wales are pleased to announce that after a team of Welsh paddlers attended the Youth Olympic Games World Qualification Selection Race at Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham on Saturday November 25th and after braving some very challenging conditions, Welsh paddler Lili Bryant was selected to the Great Britain Team.

Lili, of Llandysul and a student at Ysgol Bro Teifi, will now travel to Barcelona from 6-15 April 2018, and then if selected onto Buenos Aires, Argentina for the Youth Olympic Games finals from the 6-18 October 2018.

Lili had a tremendous season in 2017 finishing top of the British J16 Slalom rankings and 11th overall in the UK. She travelled with Welsh coaches Richard Lee and Tommy Power to the European cup races at Flattach, Austria, Augsburg, Germany, Krakow, Poland, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic and Bratislava, making the podium in most of the races. She also attended the Mezzana International in Italy finishing 3rd in the finals. These outstanding results meant that she finished her European tour 5th out of 88 competitors.

The Youth Olympic Games is set up slightly different from what Lili is used to and the competition not only tests the competitors in slalom, her natural discipline, but also sprint kayaking. Each competitor must race head to head along a designated course with an eskimo roll gate on the slalom, then switch boats to the faster but less stable sprint kayaks, giving an overall time for both disciplines.

In Llandysul, Lili can train 8 – 10 times per week in slalom but now has to try and fit in some sprint sessions to strengthen her weaker discipline. Llandysul does not lend itself to flat water, but luckily Llandysul Paddlers has a small lake that can be used and some slower stretches of the Teifi will become her new training ground.

The other Welsh paddlers that narrowly missed out on GB selection were – Daniel Rees, Matthew Elliott, and Fin Yates Jones, all from Ysgol Bro Teifi, Catrin Schrouder from Ysgol Bro Peder and Rhodri Slaven from Llanrwst Canoe Club. The British Canoeing Team selected for the Youth Olympics Qualification Event are Lili Bryant (Wales), Lois Leaver (Scotland) Thomas Mayer (England), Jack Brockway (Scotland).

 Canoe Wales has a great history of training paddlers up for Welsh and GB squads and would like to wish Lili and the rest of the team success in Barcelona.

By Canoe Wales 01 Dec, 2017
We're very pleased to announce that the Board of Directors has voted to honour Richard Lee, our outgoing National Performance Manager, with the 2017 Alan Baker Award for Services to Paddlesport.

As anyone who knows Richard can attest, his devotion to our sport and to Canoe Wales are unparalleled and through his influence, Canoe Wales and our performance programme have grown and developed dramatically over the past thirty years. We are very sad to see him move on from his role at Canoe Wales, and it was very obvious to the board that there was no better candidate for this award than Richard. 

The summary of Richard's career below only scratches at the surface of the impact that Richard has had on hundreds of young paddlers over the years:

A canoeing course in school started Richard Lee’s interest in canoeing. Within 4 days a group of youngsters from Ysgol y Berwyn, Bala were paddling and swimming down chapel falls on the river Tryweryn. The 1981 World championships, creation of Bala Canoe Club and Barry Evans’ enthusiasm in a wild water racer cemented what was to be a long term relationship with the sport. Through luck and clearing, he found himself studying geography at Lampeter University, and training at Llandysul on a regular basis until taking up work at Canolfan Tryweryn as centre supervisor and raft guide, while also training and competing hard (in polo, wild water racing and the odd marathon) with other local paddlers as part of the Welsh team. He would regard himself as a good trainer, but not such a good racer, while taking a couple of Welsh championships slalom titles, British open team titles and representing Wales at the Europa Cup in 1988 – the only time the home nations competed at the continental championships. Following a return to study at Loughborough University, where he picked up a degree in Sports management and the British Universities title in 1990, and a brief stab at full time training, he took up working with local authorities as a sports development officer. This interest in helping others to enjoy sport was also inspired by coaches Bill Endicott, Alan Edge and Jim Jayes on the water, and Richard continued to coach locally and also as a voluntary coach with Wales and the Great Britain under 23 team. During these years, he was also a core member of Bala Canoe Club, organising races and events, and the club raised £50000 to purchase and develop Bala Mill.


In 1997 he took up the role of Chief Executive with Welsh Canoeing Association, supporting the governing body administratively and managing the National Whitewater centre at Canolfan Tryweryn with Paul O’Sullivan, Jonathan Gorman and Loel Collins. While these were testing times with the continued negotiation of access agreements, working with the home nations to form a federal agreement and expansion of the centre’s operations, it was exciting times as Wales started to be recognised as one of the World’s outdoor adventure destinations. (Indeed, Richard’s favourite moments of paddling have been in Wales – at the Bitches on a perfect day with Paul Robertson, Tim Thomas, Nige Robinson and John-Paul Eatock or riding out a tube at Hell’s mouth with Loel and Bob Timms, while a paddle on the Tryweryn with family members is the greatest privilege of all). There were also exciting developments in slalom coaching as National lottery funding was provided to support Olympic sports, and Wales benefitted from a great track record in slalom, with Lara Tipper, Keith Lyons, Bob Ratcliffe and Mick Power taking up roles in coaching. At the same time, Richard was talking to the Cardiff Harbour Authority with Richard Harvey about the possibility of developing a whitewater centre in Cardiff.


Richard took up the opportunity to become a full-time coach in 2004, working with the British team, from Nottingham and across the World, supporting or coaching some great paddlers - Kim Walsh, Fiona Pennie, Colin Radmore, Dan Goddard, Mark Proctor, Nick Smith and Stu Bowman - to medals and finals, or swapping ideas and inspiration with great coaches – Jim Jayes, Mark Delaney, Paul Ratcliffe, Jurg Gotz, Oliver Fix and Mark Ratcliffe. Richard, while heading up the GB coaching team at the 2006 World championships, still had a supporting role in Wales and ensured that athletes who would become coaches, gained experience in Wales. Some great people and coaches - Neil Buckley, Craig Morris, Gareth Wilson, Neil Caffrey, Wojciech Sekula, Nick Smith and Craig Morris have all started their vocation in the Welsh coaching or paddling system, while Tom Power, Dan Goddard, Adam Johnstone, Serena Williams, Gareth Bryant, Jonathan Davies and Rhys Davies have continued this tradition today. Following the Beijing Olympic cycle, Richard returned to Wales, to manage the slalom programme and support development of the Cardiff International Whitewater centre which had been become reality through the Cardiff local authority and the tireless work of Richard Harvey and the support of Canoe Wales. Richard, along with Geoff Forster, Mark Lewin, John Willacy, Gavin Cooper, Kevin Bowerbank and Andy Raspin provided the core support over the last few years and the success of slalom in Wales is now starting to be replicated in sprint, and the culture and structure (and a little bit of attitude) are now handed over to the safe hands of new coaches, headed up by the recently appointed Performance manager, Dan Golder.


Over the years, Richard has been involved, many youngsters have been introduced to paddling, some have represented Wales, and a few have travelled further afield with the British teams. Some have become coaches, many have stopped paddling while others have re-started with their own children. Some, like Toby Jones, make boats so others can go paddling or Mark Abbott run events so others can go racing. While Richard Lee leaves the employment of Canoe Wales in December, to continue his studies at Bangor University, he will still be around on the river - you may catch a fleeting glimpse of a slalom kayak first thing in the morning at Canolfan Tryweryn or on Bala lake in the evening light – and on the river bank (either coaching or walking the dog with his family). That’s what canoeing does to you. Leaves you with stories, memories and moments.

Work hard, expect nothing. Take responsibility, Enjoy yourself.

By Canoe Wales 01 Dec, 2017
We're very pleased to announce that the winner of the 2017 Canoe Wales Club of the Year is Haverfordwest Kayak Club!

The judges were impressed by the wide variety of activities offered to members and the jam-packed calendar of events, along with the efforts that the club has made to reach out to underrepresented groups and to grow the number of female coaches. They were also impressed with the club's role in the community, including volunteering to support other sporting events with safety cover. Overall, it was evident that Haverfordwest Kayak Club is a model club which has had an incredibly busy and exciting 2017.

To understand just how busy and inspiring their club year has been, it's worth reading the full nomination that Canoe Wales received for the award:

"This past year has been a brilliant one for Haverfordwest Kayak Club with lots of training, trips, community events and development.

October 2016 saw 3 female coaches qualify at Level 1 - the first female coaches for the club and the sign of a growing club with the need for more coaches. This September and October, 4 coaches achieved Level 2. All of these courses have been funded by HWKC.

In January 2017 the club made a successful bid for funding to buy 2 new canoes specifically aimed at introducing women and juniors to canoeing. These small, light, manageable canoes have been an asset to the club; easier to handle to load and unload than the large, heavy previous club canoes, they have given opportunity to members, especially smaller, lighter members, to experience the sport. They have also given coaches the opportunity to develop their coaching skills in canoes.

Although primarily a sea kayak club, the club has been aware of Canoe Wales and Waters of Wales campaigns for river access for all on inland waters and a group joined the Paddle to the Senedd Rally on 14th February 2017. With many others in all sorts of craft and from all over Wales, we paddled across Cardiff Bay to the steps of the Senedd to meet politicians showing our support for this important issue.

In March, following a winter of well attended pool sessions developing skills both as paddlers and coaches, a beginners’ course was commenced for 13 new paddlers. This is the maximum number we can accommodate in the pool and the highest number ever to take part in a beginners’ course. In fact an intensive weekend course was organised in July for 4 individuals unable to be included in this course. All beginners become club members and with other enquiries from paddlers asking to join, the club has added over 20 members this year. Outdoor Thursday night club trips started again on 27th May.

Our very active and enthusiastic junior section paddle every Tuesday evening and on 25th June, to offer them a new experience, their coach organised a day trip to Llandysul on grade 2 white water. This was a huge success with 3 of these juniors returning there with the whole club later in the year.

The club offers a variety of trips to appeal to as many members as possible; on Thursday evenings and every other weekend club members are out on the Pembrokeshire coast and in the estuary taking part in sea touring, surf kayaking, gentle paddles, rolling and skills sessions, overnight kayak camping, canoeing, plus white water sessions further inland.

Also in June, 3 members from HWKC traveled to Devon to receive coaching from Cheri Perry and Turner Wilson who are world renowned Greenland paddlers and coaches. The 3, who all have been paddling with Greenland sticks for a number of years and run a Greenland skills session every Sunday morning through summer months in Pembrokeshire, received coaching in Greenland rolling techniques. Much enthused, they returned and planned and organised an event for September. The Greenland sessions have offered opportunity for older and disabled kayakers to take part in a supportive and safe environment, gaining skills, keeping active and developing fitness.

July saw a club and family weekend at Llandysul. Everyone had the opportunity to try different boats, experience the white water, achieve new skills and generally have great fun and socialise.

As in previous years, HWKC provided swim cover for 2 events in Pembrokeshire’s prestigious sporting calendar. This is all done on a voluntary basis and is another indication of the club’s willingness to be involved and give back to the community. Without our participation these events cannot go ahead. On 24th June 10 members turned out for the swim leg of the Pembrokeshire Coast Triathlon willingly getting out of bed to be at Broad Haven for 7am! In July again we turned out members to offer safety cover for the Long Course Weekend in Tenby.

September was really exciting as HWKC planned and delivered the first ever camping weekend dedicated to Greenland paddling and Greenland rolling techniques. This is not only a first for the club but a first in Wales and possibly UK! Paddlers from Wales and England attended and took part in workshops learning skills with the Greenland stick and developing a variety of Greenland rolls. The club recognises that interest in the traditional skills is growing and understands the lower impact these techniques can have on a paddler’s joints and muscles. Providing an opportunity for paddlers to have these new experiences and gain a wider skills range is at the heart of the club's ethos.

HWKC is a busy, vibrant, welcoming club. Where else can you take part in a range of kayaking experiences, have ongoing free coaching, use of club equipment, a great social life and all for £2 a trip after joining?"

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