This is one of our most popular and biggest events of the regatta, with entrants of all ages, experience levels, and fancy dress! And teams of friends, partners and families all mixed up. All in all, one of the most entertaining yet competitive events over the 2 days of the regatta.
Firstly (and probably most importantly), if you have never punted before we would highly recommend that you learn the techniques in a punt before you have to think about stepping into (and falling out of!) a canoe, and make sure you or your partner are comfortable steering. If you come to the WSR training days there will be experienced punters around who will be happy to help you get started. See more details here.
When you are standing in the canoe there is a strong possibility that you may go swimming, even the best punters fall in on the odd occasion. So make sure you are ready and prepared for every eventuality, confidence is key and just keep going! As long as the canoe is moving forwards the stability of the canoe will be easier to maintain, it may be easier said than done but just like on a bicycle, if you keep going then the chances of remaining upright are far higher. This is also true for the pole, if you feel the canoe wobble then get the pole in the water and preferably on the river bed to act as a stabiliser. If it waves around in the wind, so will you!
Always push together. Count or shout together, as silly as you may feel the more coordinated you are with your partner, the better (and drier) you’ll be. If your pole gets stuck in the mud, twist or (last resort) let go! Don’t just pull, that will more than likely have both you and your partner swimming. Push your shins against the crossbars in the canoe to gain stability if you feel you need it.
There are a few things that come down to preference and where opinions differ. Boards or no boards seems to fall to the individual as do shoes or no shoes, some find the grip in the boat easier, and others find that they can flex their feet more without. And the age old debate around punting on the same or different sides. This obviously ultimately depends on your partner which side you both punt on. There is one theory that if you punt on the same side then the keel of the boat stays on a level plain and is easier to balance, but obviously the edge of the canoe is much closer to the waters edge. If you punt on different sides then the canoe will stay more upright, but if you are not in time then the keel of the boat will be off kilter and you will make the boat rock.
Most importantly have fun, be safe and remember when you are practicing to wear a buoyancy aid.
Look forward to seeing you on the course.