FALCON kayakers tasted glory in the iconic 125-mile Devizes to Westminster international race.

Ben Haynes won the senior singles canoe class, with Jo Bates and Elena Golder first in the ladies doubles.

Great performances by Anna Railton and Stephane Helle, who came 13th and 14th respectively in the singles class, meant that Oxford-based Falcon, for the first time in the club’s history, took the team prize in this category.

Founded in 1948, the race is one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges.

Single paddlers race over four days while doubles compete in a single overnight stage.

Haynes completed the course in 16hrs 46mins, with Bates and Golder coming home in 21hrs 29mins.

“I felt total disbelief at winning,” said Haynes.

“Kayak sprint is my discipline so to come away with a win in an ultra-endurance event was a real surprise.”

He added: “On the first day I managed to establish a good lead and on day two I felt strong and extended my lead to 20 minutes.

“Day three was tougher due to tiredness, heat and low river flow – but I had enough energy left to win the sprint finish.”

Railton, who was the fourth fasted women in the singles, only started canoeing 18 months ago.

“I’d never done an endurance race and this one was a really long way,” she said.

“The hardest thing was having to get up day after day to face another

day of gruelling paddling, hauling the boat around locks and eating when feeling sick – but it was definitely worth it.”

Falcon club captain Nick Barnett added: “Two years ago we won the doubles class which is the main


“To win the singles event and the singles team medal has secured Falcon’s reputation for supporting and developing top marathon kayakers.”