Super Smith’s sensational race to top finish in Canoe Marathon

Charlie Smith
Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith took a superb 12th place finish in the World Canoe Marathon Championships in Germany.

The Leighton Buzzard Canoe Club member was one of the youngest in the squad competing in the K1 under 18 category as he took on a competitive field of 38 paddlers.

Charlie Smith KIiIXa08XdTdBB7wfeLL

Charlie Smith KIiIXa08XdTdBB7wfeLL

The course was on the Beetzee lake and consisted of 6 laps with 5 portages followed by a short lap to the finish, a distance of 22.6km in total.

The day began with wind and rain blowing down the lake, although the rain eased the wind remained challenging for the majority of the race.

Positions on the start line were drawn at random and Smith was placed towards the far side which was a reasonable draw.

Dominating kayaking at the moment are the Hungarians so it was no surprise to see them take the lead off of the line and that’s where they remained.

The first 1000m was a battle of boats and a test of nerves as paddlers fought for position. Smith dug deep and earned their place in the top group as the pace settled and the field stretched out over the first lap.

The second lap proved decisive as the pace quickened coming into the turn and the Hungarians were able to break the group in two with Smith in the second pack.

On the first portage, Smith and British team-mate Luke Harding were 30 seconds behind. Harding was out of his boat first and Smith fractionally behind him when he was struck in the side of the head by the front of a kayak.

By the time Smith had run 100m down the portage and got in his boat he was sick several times and lost many places as competitors overtook him. Eventually he recovered sufficiently to work with a group and played catch up through the field doing his best to make up ground.

On the turn of the last short lap, with the finish line in sight, the Denmark paddler raised the pace and Smith followed breaking the group of five down to three.

With 50m to go the boys went head to head in a sprint for the line, Smith managed to pull it out of the bag crossing first to take 12th place overall behind Luke in 11th.