A RISING canoeing star from Worcester saw his latest bid for success blown off course when his prized £2,000 boat was speared by a runaway marquee that had come loose in high winds.

SIxteen-year-old Simon Williams, of Perdiswell, was in the French city of Reims competing with the Great Britain Development Squad when the mishap befell his specialised carbon fibre ‘marathon class’ boat.

“It was so windy in practice that we had to get off the water and stow our boats down by a hedge for safekeeping,” he explained. “I went to have lunch but it was so windy that one of the marquees at the event came loose and ended up spearing three of the boats, including mine.

“I didn’t see it but there were a couple of people who did and they said the tent just flew right over the hedge. The conditions were horrible.”

Mr Williams, a member of Worcester Canoe Club, said it was clear immediately that the boat was damaged beyond repair, leaving him facing an expensive bill to replace it.

The incident also sparked a desperate hunt for a replacement boat for him to compete in. But even though a brand new demonstration boat was found, a further mishap left Mr Williams in no doubt that it was not his weekend.

“I managed to start the race but less than a quarter of the way through the steering broke,” he said.

“I managed to finish eventually but unfortunately that left me no chance of contesting for a good place. It was gutting as it was the last race of the season and I was in the lead group and, without the bad luck, would have been looking at a top 10 finish.”