Royal Canoe Club
The Royal Canoe Club (RCC), founded in 1866, is the oldest canoe club in the world and received royal patronage in the 19th century. The club promotes canoeing and kayaking, focusing on flatwater, sprint and marathon disciplines. Members of the club have represented Great Britain at World Championships and the Olympic Games. The club is based at Trowlock Island on the River Thames in Teddington near London. The premises are also used by Walbrook Rowing Club, The Skiff Club and Kingston Royals Dragon Boat Racing Club.
John MacGregor, a Scottish lawyer, popularised canoeing in the late 19th century. He went on extensive tours on the rivers and canals of Central and Northern Europe and the Mid-east in a boat he designed named the 'Rob Roy'. Through a series of books and lectures he formed a group of sportsmen who met in 1866 to form the Canoe Club. The first recorded regatta was held on 27 April 1867. This is now known as The Paddling Challenge, and runs every year as the oldest canoe race in the world. In the same year, Edward VII, Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII, became Commodore of the Club and in 1873 the Canoe Club became the Royal Canoe Club by command of Queen Victoria. Evidence to support this exists in club records in the form of correspondence with Whitehall.
Races at Royal Canoe Club
The Paddling Challenge
The Paddling Challenge is the world's oldest canoe race. It continues to run every year. People come from all over the country to compete. Sometimes people from other countries have come to compete. We see 10 km and 5 km courses being run for senior men, senior women, junior men, junior women and outriggers. Prizes for top three of each and trophies. There is an additional trophy for the fastest junior from Royal Canoe Club.
As part of British Canoeing's hasler series, Royal host a race yearly as part of the London Region. Clubs from in and out of the region come to race the Thames in many different divisions. It is always held at the start of summer and the club sees all ages come in for a day with friends.
Royal Sprint Regatta
The Royal Sprint Regatta is held annually at a smaller scale than the other races. It is a chance for people to race at a regional level. Typically the club welcomes mainly juniors from nearby clubs but we also see adults racing. Distances can include 200m, 500m and 2 km.
Junior life at the club
Royal Canoe Club has many junior members. The club works with juniors from the ages as young as 8 until they reach senior age of 18. They also coach from beginner level all the way up to advanced level. A coaching structure is in place that can see children not only advance and become phenomenal athletes, but they also learn a lot about themselves, life and each other. The aim of the club is to get people paddling and enjoying it.
Recently, Royal Canoe Club have employed a head coach - Beata Fabinska. As part of the head coach employment the club have got structured groups for juniors. They are named after famous kayakers to help motivate the juniors. The top group Abraham is named after Attila Ábrahám, a Hungarian kayaking legend. The next group Brabants named after Tim Brabants, one of the best British kayakers and member of Royal Canoe Club. The third group Carrington is named after Lisa Carrington, a New Zealand kayaker who continues to break records and astonish the crowds. Our final group Dietze is named after Tina Dietze, a German kayaker who has had her fair share of international medals.
The juniors at the club compete in regional, national and international level. Receiving medals in all three.
International competitors and other members
RCC is the home club of the 2008 Olympic champion in the men's K1 1000 m kayak class, Dr. Tim Brabants, who won his gold medal in Beijing on 22 August 2008, and followed this up with the bronze medal in the K1 500m the following day. Along with Brabants, the club membership includes several world championship medallists (among them Alan Williams, Grayson Bourne, Chris Canham, Steve Jackson, Jeremy West) and Ian Wynne who won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Athens 2004. The club provides support and coaching for all levels from beginner to advanced. The club also sees juniors excel in international competitions, with many medals being won.
Club members represented Great Britain at the Berlin Olympics in 1936 when canoeing was introduced as an Olympic sport and at every Olympic Games since. In 1922, Edward, Prince of Wales (later to become the Duke of Windsor), became Commodore, a position he held until he acceded the throne.
A notable member of the club was Warrington Baden Powell (brother of Lord Baden Powell). Uffa Fox was not a member, but was nevertheless closely associated with members of the club including Roger de Quincey for whom he designed "Wake".