Easter weekend will see two College boys, Orlando Giuseppetti and Fernando Capelastegui, participate in theDevizes to Westminster International Canoe Race (DW) – a race which has been held annually since 1948 and which is considered to be one of the most demanding endurance events of its kind. It is 125 miles long with 77 portages – meaning that participants will be in their boats for around 24 hours with no breaks.
The two boys will be the first schoolboys not only from College but in the county to complete this race. The last few months has seen them train incredibly hard, combatting not only adverse weather conditions but also trying to balance school commitments with fitness regimes.
Mr Sebastian Bullock, Housemaster and co-ordinator of the Duke of Edinburgh Award at Cheltenham College commented: “This race is undoubtedly about paddling but it is also about meticulous planning, teamwork and endurance. I have huge admiration for our two 15 year olds who have decided to take it on. Blisters, breaking ice and backache have all been part of the training and I wish the boys good luck and fair weather for the race. Huge thanks also go to staff member Paul Gibson, who has been training the boys over the past months and who will be the all important support crew during the event.”
The two boys took a few minutes out of their hectic schedule to share with us what the race means to them and what the learning curve has been like:
Orlando: “I believe that this race is an opportunity that cannot be missed. Our first experience of kayaking was at a training camp; we first of all hit the river in small sea kayaks which I imagined to have similar stability to a race kayak. After ten minutes we tried out the race boats, which, with a stability rating of ten, I thought would be easy enough – plus we were a determined bunch! One simple stroke later however and we fell straight out the other side into the freezing water. I would not recommend a trial race kayaking outing in winter for a person who has never been kayaking before –wait til the summer... Fernando and I got back in however and this time we managed two strokes before the icy water claimed us. We were hooked. A few months later, having worked obsessively on our stability, we were well on our way towards our target training. From swimming lessons to kayaking lessons and runs every Sunday, fitness is engraved into our College routine and we are as ready as we can be. I leave you with this quote: "I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Fernando added: “When the opportunity to compete in the DW came up, I took it as I knew that if was to complete it, I could say that I had achieved something great. It would also enable me to try out a new sport. Although the training has sometimes been difficult and painful, it is good to know that it is helping us prepare for a real event. Without such intense training we would never have been able even to consider competing – especially as we had never kayaked before. We also, of course, hope to raise money for several charities during the race. The best moment so far has been kayaking 15 miles without capsizing and the worst? Capsizing in freezing water and getting blisters the size of 5p coins!”
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