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'Kit' take a punt in English river race

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MAIDENHEAD, England (Reuters) – Chris ‘Kit’ Nairne got to his feet in his flat-bottomed boat, peered down the river and pushed off to take the Gentleman’s Amateur prize in England’s Thames Punting Championships.

The 34-year-old was one of a select band of competitors who poled their way through the water in the English town of Maidenhead outside London, in a contest that dates back to the mid-19th century.

Punting stands out from other river sports because “you appreciate what’s under the water, as much as what’s over it,” said Nairne at the competition on Sunday.

“You are having to experiment with what the bottom is, how deep it is, what sort of material it is, all the way along … you’re getting a much more complete view of the environment that you’re travelling through.”

Spectators lined the banks of the river to cheer on competitors in 20 races. The best punters were from five clubs on the Thames, including Dittons Skiff and Punting Club, Thames Valley Skiff Club and Wargrave Boating Club.

In his one-on-one race, Nairne beat Mark Vellacott in 7 minutes 56 seconds, while Natalie MacLean won the Women’s Singles in 5 minutes 43 seconds over a shorter course. 

(Writing by Andrew Heavens; editing by John Stonestreet)

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