World Championships success for Swimming Instructor

Sep 24, 2019 | Jenni Ashford

Whilst Exeter Golf and Country Club is no stranger to sporting achievements among staff and members in golf, tennis and squash, the bar has now been raised by swimming instructor, Rebecca Newson.

Rebecca, who started working at Exeter Golf and Country Club this summer, represented Great Britain at the ICF Canoe Ocean World Championships in Quiberon, France on 13th and 14th September 2019.

Rebecca was selected for Team GB for the Oceanski races against the best athletes in the world.  An Oceanski is similar to a kayak but with an open “sit-on-top” cockpit and a powerful, pedal-operated rudder to control the boat while surfing on wave fronts. They are designed for long distance paddling in the open ocean through big surf. Elite racing skis are as little as 16 inches wide, and require a very high level of skill in large seas.

Rebecca came 16th out of 35 in the senior women’s category, and first amongst her team mates. The first 18km of the 22km race imposed tricky conditions on the racers with a strong side wind and ocean swell. The last 4km were more ideal and Rebecca made the most of the improved course line up picking off competitors and gaining time. In the mixed doubles 15km race (1 male and 1 female paddler in a boat), Rebecca and her team mate came 7th out of 40 boats. With flat conditions the race was like a marathon on the sea. There were three GB doubles boats in the race with the other two boats coming in 11th and 18th.

Rebecca started kayaking when she was 14 yrs old, in Cape Town South Africa, as part of surf lifesaving at Fish Hoek Surf Lifesaving Club. From 1997-2010, she raced at international level for surfski in lifesaving and was top U23 and top 10 ‘Open Ladies Oceanski Paddler’, and participated in river marathons across in South Africa. Rebecca then took an 8 year break from training and racing,  and moved to the UK to focus on work. It wasn’t until 2018, that she picked up her paddles again and headed back to the water at the Royal Canoe Club in London.

Rebecca moved to Exeter this year to be closer to the sea to train – and enjoy a better work-life balance.  Fully launched into training, Rebecca averages a distance of 80km paddling, across eight sessions a week. She trains two or three times a week on the ocean – you may spot her off the Exmouth coastline, and five or six times a week at Exeter Canoe Club.

Rebecca has set her sights high and has both Oceanski and K1 Hasler Marathon races ahead. She is eager to race for Team GB again, with plans underway to raise funds to support this ambition.

The next big race for Rebecca is the Hasler Finals in Southampton for Exeter Canoe Club. Having been recently promoted to Division 3 in K1 kayaking, she will be covering a distance of 12 miles. Her goal is to continue the season improving her time in Division 3 and reach Division 2 by the end of the season (July 2020).

This winter, Rebecca is training for the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race which spans 125 miles over 4 days, starting on Good Friday. Rebecca said, “The training shall be a challenge in itself, considering I prefer the warmer South African climate. I do like a challenge though!”

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