Tim Hookins reports 4 hours before the start of the ICF World Champs in Portugal

As the dawn slowly appears, it’s clearly different this morning. Thinner mist and a gentle breeze from the North! That’s what we want! There’s a red flag on a marker bouy about a half a km out there between the rocky islands and its fluttering in the breeze. The start will be at 4pm this arvo and hopefully it will build until then.

Last night we had the opening ceremony within the walls of the ancient Fort St Joao. The athletes were all gathered in their national groups with the Aussies possibly the most striking looking in the gold and green, but the South African Team is definitely larger. Quite a big group from United Kingdom, all buoyed on by unrelated victories in cycling and tennis.

The truth is we are all on edge, not knowing how our boys and girls will fare against the opposition.
There were team photos and the boxing kangaroo and the flags were there. The local Mayor, Mario and another guy from ICF each gave welcoming speechs. The Portuguese anthem was played and the flags of Portugal, the town and the international Canoeing Federation were raised. It is clear that

Andre, the event organiser, is trying his utmost to see that the event has true World Championship status. We were all told that national gear is to be worn on all occasions. Andre gave the briefing which included the usual things and the use of flares, the start and the finish. Then there was dinner inside the little castle which is used as a restaurant. People strolled around the battlements and looked out to sea from the turrets for any signs of wind.

Most things are now sorted for the paddlers. Everyone at last has a boat that I know of. Some have a vacuum fibre where they might have preferred a carbon. The young bucks are sizing up their opposition. Michaeal Booth knows his major threat is a young South African , I think a Van der Walt, and im guessing right now he’s thinking how he can finish ahead of him.

We have seen very little of Timmy Jacobs so far. He is obviously the incumbent here so the pressure upon him must be immense. He kept away from the limelight yesterday at the ceremony and I’m sure he’s planning his way ahead.

A few possible matchups to look at during the race:
Tony King Vets 60+ v a Pommie bloke called Smith
Jimmy Walker Vets 40-44 v Tommy Woodriff v Dave Tudor-Jones v a South African called Biggles.

It’s now 10.30am here in misty Vila do Conde and it’s time for me to get preparing for the race. So many other things to tell, it’s been such a hoot and our captain, Jimmy Walker has been great.
Wind is expected to be 20 kph Northerly, so it’s improving.

Think of all our boys and girls doing their best today!

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