British Rafting Returns to Matlock

The first full race of the British Rafting calendar kicked off on the Derwent on the first weekend of May, with 7 teams heading to Matlock for a fun-filled, action packed weekend. It was amazing to see a wide variety of teams from across the country come together, and have fun competing, regardless of experience. Teams from as far and wide as Shropshire, Liverpool and Nottingham gave it their all and put on an incredible show!

We kicked off with the slalom, a tricksy course with some tight downs and technical ups spread across this picturesque section of the Derwent. All teams put together incredible runs, with tidy runs all around. The event was won by the Firequackers, who put together a clean run, however the award for most committed goes to ‘Lets do it’, who caused a splash by flipping while reaching for a gate! There were smiles all around, however, as the sun came out and we went for lunch. 

Up next was the sprint where, packed full of adrenaline (and lunch) teams dashed down the course as fast as possible. It was a tight competition, with only 0.13 seconds separating 5th and 6th, and team Rainbow taking the win by 1 second. These results would go on to be crucial in deciding the order for the head-to-head heats that would follow. 

A new format was used for the head-to-head races, in which all teams got at least 3 heats, with a 3rd place final and a round robin to determine 5th-7th. Some brilliant racing saw Breakout Unit Red continue their impressive form and finish 3rd, very impressive for a young team who hadn’t raced much before. The action built to a tense final between Rainbow and the Firequackers, both experienced teams from Nottingham, which didn’t disappoint. It was an incredibly tight race which ended with a tussle on the final stretch before the finish line, from which Rainbow emerged victorious. At the end of the day, the Firequackers held a narrow lead due to the points’ weighting, but it was all still to play for in the downriver on Sunday.

The sun came out in full force for the final event of the weekend, with glorious sunshine beaming down on the teams as they prepared for the downriver in Darley Dale. It was a Le Mans style start, with rafts held on the beach with one team member out of the boat. On the whistle, there was a mad scramble as everyone rushed to get into their rafts. A hectic start soon calmed down into a long, challenging race with lots of slow, wide corners providing a unique challenge. The racing provided a great spectacle for many unsuspecting walkers all along the idyllic course, which weaved through the countryside, under bridges and between fallen trees. A clean start paid off for the Firequackers, who held onto their lead and extended their advantage, crossing the finish line first 40 minutes later. Strong performances all around left the field split by only 8 minutes, very impressive given the varying levels of experience. 

A wonderful weekend was topped off by a short award ceremony in the Peak UK car park, with SPS mixed up claiming their bronze medal, Rainbow picking up silver and the Firequackers getting their first ever gold medal. 

Up next are the World Championships in Bosnia, where we will be cheering on a huge group of GB teams. We now look forward to upcoming development weekends at Holme Pierrepont and the Tryweryn, before the Tryweryn Euro Cup in September. 

Written by Will Jones