Prowse makes a splash with victory in gruelling long distance race

Hemel hempstead Canoe Club's James Prowse, left, was part of the winning team at the 125-mile Devizes to Westminster race.
Hemel hempstead Canoe Club's James Prowse, left, was part of the winning team at the 125-mile Devizes to Westminster race.

For the second year in a row, a Hemel Hempstead Canoe Club member was in the winning crew in his category at the gruelling Devizes to Westminster race.

This year it was 20-year-old James Prowse, who finished the 125-mile non-stop race with partner Tim Penson from Exeter in a superb time of 19 hours and 46 minutes.

Most crews paddle kayak, which is a much faster boat with a rudder. Canadian Canoe is single blade with no rudder – the paddling stroke steers the boat so it is regarded as a bit of a dark art by the kayakers.

Prowse and Penson managed to cross the line sixth overall which is considered an even more impressive achievement than winning the Canadian category.

Prowse, who has been paddling with Hemel Hempstead Canoe Club for five years, is the latest club member to taste success at the race – following on from the success of Mike Thornton and Shirine Voller who took the honours last year.

Both crews finished the race within the five-fastest times in the history of the event.

Around 650 kayakers and canoeists paddled the 125 miles from Devizes to Westminster – some taking on the course over four days, leaving on Good Friday and finishing on Easter Monday morning.

Senior Double crews set out on Easter Saturday to complete the course non-stop through the night to finish on Easter Sunday.

Prowse learnt to paddle at Hemel Hempstead Canoe Club and has represented GB in the open Dragonboat team.

Hemel team-mate Geoff Blease was in the Endeavour class of the Devizes to Westminster race with his son but was forced to retire from the race after 9 hours and 13 minutes.