Top Aussies bolster kayaking regatta

Author -  Jamie Troughton

She's been a world champion surf ski paddler and champion ironwoman but Australian Naomi Flood has her attention firmly focused to canoe racing in Rotorua this weekend.

Top Aussies bolster kayaking regatta

She's been a world champion surf ski paddler and champion ironwoman but Australian Naomi Flood has her attention firmly focused to canoe racing in Rotorua this weekend.


Australian kayaking stars Naomi Flood and Jo Brigden-Jones will take on New Zealand's best in Rotorua this weekend, after spending the best part of three weeks trying to close the gap on Kiwi world champion Lisa Carrington.

The Olympic pair, part of the Australian K4 at the London games, have been training with Carrington in Queenstown and will measure their progress at this 

weekend's Blue Lakes 2 regatta at Tikitapu.

Flood is a former surf lifesaving star with a clear supremacy over Carrington in waves. Put them on flat water and it's a different story, however.  

Naomi Flood surf skik promo pic.jpg
 Naomi Flood - surf ski
(photos Jamie Troughton - DScribe)
"Lisa's the greatest paddler in the world at the moment in the women's ranks and she lives a couple of hours' flight away so it's a no-brainer to jump on a plane and try and get sucked along with her momentum and take on something different," Flood said. "It's been a good insight to see how she trains and what works for her. The whole set-up is pretty different to what we do at home and we're benefitting from being here and hopefully she's benefitting from us being here too."  

This weekend's regatta represents the first competitive outing for Carrington after she defended her K1 200m title at the world championships in Moscow in August and captured silver in the K1 500m. Flood and Brigden-Jones finished seventh in the K2 500m final, with Carrington pairing with Eastern Bay teammate Jaimee Lovett for that discipline this weekend.
JTPIX_Kayak14-5876.jpg         Lisa Carrington at Nationals this year

"Moscow was at the end of a big year - 2014 was a really big season for me - so it was good to reflect on that and figure out what we can do going forward," Carrington said. "I had a good break and after coming back from Moscow, I've been picking up things I really need to work on, which gives me a good focus going into this block I'm in now. It's been really good having Jo and Floody here, especially with them being such good paddlers - it's great to have people on the water pushing me and I really enjoy that they're getting something out of it."

While Carrington is a clear favourite in the K1 200m, Flood's presence in the K1 500m - along with Kiwis Teneale Hatton, Kayla Imrie and rising star Aimee Fisher - will make for an intriguing race.

The men's ranks have been strengthened by Gisborne brothers Darryl and Jarrod Fitzgerald, who will compete with the likes of Marty McDowell (Mana), Zac Quickenden (Arawa) and North Shore duo Jack Wilson and Zac Franich. National K1 200m champion Scott Bicknell (Bay of Plenty) will front in the shorter distance, with the only top absence that of his fellow Bay of Plenty paddler Andrew Roy, the reigning under-23 champion, who is the sole Kiwi competing in the Grand Prix series in Adelaide this weekend.

This weekend's two-day regatta has drawn 207 paddlers from around the country. It's a significant rise from the 128 paddlers who attended in 2011, with 142 competing in 2012 and 183 last year.

Canoe Racing New Zealand chief executive Mark Weatherall is delighted with the strengthening base in the sport.
"Our female numbers have really increased over the last four years but perhaps even more pleasing is the total number of juniors coming into the sport," Weatherall said. "At the national championships earlier in the year, our under-16 numbers had reached 126 - a huge jump from 2011, when 54 showed up. We're still keen to have more coaches guiding those younger athletes but it tells us canoe racing is an attractive and viable sport at that level."

North Shore (46) has the biggest contingent paddling this weekend with Wellington's Mana club (33) and Poverty Bay (31) also contributing big numbers. This weekend's regatta begins at 8am both days.

Article courtesy of Jamie Troughton

Top Aussies bolster kayaking regatta

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