The Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race starts in Devizes, Wiltshire and finishing just downstream of Westminster Bridge in central London, opposite the Houses of Parliament. The race has been held annually over the Easter Weekend since 1948.
The race is 125 miles long and has 77 portages. The first 52 miles are along the Kennet and Avon Canal to Reading, the next 55 miles are on the River Thames to Teddington. The final 17 mile section is on the tidal portion of the Thames.
The race is a severe test of skill, physical and mental stamina and planning which produces a memorable sense of achievement for those successfully completing it.
There are 5 classes within the event:
1. Senior Doubles - crews of 2 adults who race non-stop from start to finish
2. Senior Singles - adult single paddlers who compete over 4 days
3. Junior Doubles - crews of 2 juniors who compete over 4 days
4. Veteran / Junior - crews of 1 adult (over 35) and 1 junior who compete over 4 days
5. Endeavour - a non-competitive doubles class held over 4 days
For more details on entry criteria, please see the relevant Class Rules.
The race may be undertaken in kayaks or open canoes. We recommend selecting a stable boat as water conditions on the final section of the race can be extremely challenging. If you are contemplating using an unusual boat and are unsure about its suitability or eligibility, please contact us.
We recommend a minimum of six months training and preparation for the race. The best way to start is to find your nearest canoe club - preferably one that has people who know the race. You can find canoe clubs through the British Canoe Union website whose web address is on the Links page. If you have specific questions, please contact us. You will find further information on training in the Paddlers Information - Training Advice section of this website.
We warmly welcome paddlers from overseas so if you need advice or assistance concerning the race, please contact us.
DW is an extremely testing event which often takes place in cold and inclement weather. Because of the distance and effort required, paddlers inevitably become deeply fatigued. Due to the length of the course, paddlers are out of sight of officials, support crews and spectators for the vast majority of the race. Consequently, it is the responsibility of all paddlers to ensure that they are fully trained and competent to deal with any capsizes or mishaps that may occur. Paddlers should devote every effort to familiarising themselves with the course and particularly hazards such as weir and lock layouts, low bridges and road crossings. It is also the responsibility of all paddlers to make their own assessment of their competence and fitness to undertake the race.
DW is organised and run entirely by volunteers. If you can spare time, either in the run up to the event or over the race weekend, we would very much like to hear from you. Drop us an email.