Getting Started

I’d call this the period of indecision. For us it was the three months of thinking that we wanted to do DW, but not being entirely sure if we’d have the time, money or motivation required to do it.

Here are the questions you should be able to answer before telling the whole world you’re DEFINITELY going to do DW:

1. What is the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race?

To get you started here’s a potted summary:

This race has been running over the Easter Weekend every year since 1948. You start in Devizes (Wiltshire) and paddle 125 miles to Westminster Bridge in London. On the way you have to lift your boat around 77 locks (portages) and organise being fed and watered by a devoted support team. Competitors complete the race in anywhere between 14 and 30 hours.

This website and the eBook is tailored to those wanting to do the race all in one go (overnight). There is also the option to complete it over four days which means you do roughly 35 miles each day and avoid paddling in the dark. .

Feel free to have a read of our story to get a feel for what it’s like to be part of the race.

2. What club are you a member of?

We spent a long time thinking about the best way to do DW without spending a small fortune – do we buy a boat? Do we join a club? Who knows?!

We settled on joining a Canoe Club, forking out for membership but saving on the cost of buying our own boat and paddles. I would really recommend doing the race this way as with club membership came a wealth of invaluable advice and you are able to try out different boats as you progress in your stability and paddling technique.

Look here to find a Canoe Club near you.

3. What boat will you use?

The majority of people do DW in a K2.

This is roughly what a K2 looks like:


K2 essentially translates as a two person racing kayak. So you can sound knowledgeable at your new club, there are also K1s which translate as one person racing kayaks. It’s quite possible that you’ll start off learning in a K1 and then, when you trust your partner enough, move on to a K2. Much like riding a bike, you start off on your own and then take on the tandem later on.

What’s in the Zero to DW Hero eBook?

  • More information on the different sections of the race
  • Useful things to think about when you’re choosing which canoe club to join
  • Other things you might need to consider when choosing your boat (e.g. stability).

Download the Zero to DW Hero eBook here (£15):


Got this far and still want to do the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race? 

Time to start preparing then!

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© S Hicks 2018

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