Lisa Carrington unleashed an outstanding paddle to claim victory over Aimee Fisher on day one of 2023 NZCT New Zealand & Oceania Canoe Sprint Championships in their first of the best-of-three series to determine which of the world-class New Zealand duo will represent their country at the World Championships in August.
With only one boat per country per event (as per International Canoe Federation rules) allowed at World Championship competition – the racing between Lisa, the reigning World and Olympic K1 500m champion, and Aimee, the 2021 World K1 500m champion, was always likely to provide the centrepiece to the action on an overcast day at Lake Karapiro, and so it proved.
In the eagerly anticipated heat one of the open women’s K1 500m, Lisa, the five-time Olympic and 12-time World champion, made a blistering start.
As the race progressed, the 33-year-old Eastern Bay paddler piled on more pressure, gradually extending her advantage to take control of the race.
In tricky crosswind conditions, Lisa flashed past the line in 1:49.10 – 2.30 seconds clear of Aimee with world-class ocean racing paddler Danielle McKenzie (North Shore) in 2:00.60 taking third.
The second race in the best-of-three selection format will take place as part of the K1 500m A final tomorrow (Saturday) at 9.10am.
Lisa said of her performance today: “It was good to get out there and execute a really good race with all the nerves and pressure. We just don’t get these opportunities that often, and I was happy to give it a good go, I enjoyed it.
“Now it is about making sure I turn up tomorrow, put my best foot forward and do the best race that I can.”
Aimee, the reigning New Zealand women’s K1 500m champion, said: “I felt really strong in the first 300m, Lisa definitely out enduranced me in that last part of the race – so it will good to have another little re-match tomorrow.
“It is certainly a good test of character. I’ll come back tomorrow, reset and give it another push.”
Lucy Matehaere (Otago) took top spot in heat two in 1:58.00 with Tokyo Olympian Alicia Hoskin triumphant in heat three (1:59.70).
Quaid Thompson defied a challenging build up to win his first New Zealand K1 1000m national title for four years with a dominant display.
The Poverty Bay paddler, whose preparation was hampered by the widespread flooding in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle, established control from the outset, opening up a boat length advantage by 250m and would not be denied.
Stopping the clock in 3:44.75 he finished 1.73 clear of 2022 champion Ben McCallum (Waitara) with James Munro (Otago), the silver medallist from 12 months ago, earning bronze in 3:47.60.
The final represented the first of potentially up to three selection races to determine the one spot available for New Zealand in the men’s K1 1000m at the 2023 World Championships in Duisburg in August. The second selection race and, should it be required, third selection race, will both take place on Sunday.
Quaid, who missed the 2022 nationals because of Covid, said: “I’m stoked. The nerves were there before the start, but once the gun went it was just another 1000m.
“I knew that I had to have a pretty good start and then work off that third 250m. I just then needed to focus on what I wanted to do and coming into the last 200m I had a bit in the tank.”
Quaid, who finished fourth in the men’s K1 1000m at the Australian Championships last month, admitted his preparation for the 2023 nationals – in which he also snared the Oceania title – was far from perfect.
“My preparation could have been better because I lost one or two weeks training because of Cyclone Gabrielle. The river went six feet through the club (Poverty Bay) and I was lucky that despite being under water and covered in mud my boat wasn’t damaged.
“I’ve been lucky that we know the owners of a little lake, who have been awesome and allowed me to use it. I’m a lifeguard at the local pools in Gisborne so while the pool was closed I was redeployed for several weeks helping out with the clean-up. I’m stoked with how it went today.”
Tokyo Olympian Kurtis Imrie teamed up with Zach Ferkins to clinch an impressive Oceania and New Zealand title victory in the open men’s K2 500m. Representing the Mana Kayak Racing Club the duo quickly seized the initiative and profiting from an aggressive approach took spot in 1:36.95 – 1.45 seconds clear of Max Brown – Imrie’s Tokyo Olympic K2 1000m crewmate – and Hamish Legarth (Whanganui). Ben Duffy and James Munro (Arawa) secured bronze in 1:40.10.
Kurtis said: “It was our first race together as a K2 combination. We’ve done work in the K4 together but it was cool we could express ourselves jumping in the K2.
Zach commented: “The first 300m was quite good but that last 200m is quite bumpy, so I just figured we go all in on the first half and hold on in the second half, which is kind of what we both do anyway. The aim was to go for it and hold on.”
A top quality North Shore Canoe Racing quartet – comprising three quarters of the crew who claimed fifth at the 2022 World Championships – delivered a demonstration of their ability to secure the national and Oceania titles in the open women’s K4 500m.
The boat containing Alicia Hoskin, Olivia Brett, Samalulu Clifton and Tara Vaughan made a slick start quickly opening up a lead on the opposition to repel a handy Australian quartet by a margin of 1.16 – stopping the clock in 1:44.89. A second North Shore crew of Greer Morley, Brooklyn Saunders, Christy Tate and Danielle McKenzie crossed the line in third (1:47.15).
Alicia Hoskin and Tara Vaughan impressed to win heat one of the open women’s K2 500m to head the qualifiers into Saturday’s final (10.45am) with a time of 1:49.24. Julia Padrutt and Lucy Matehaere (Waitara) clinched heat two in 1:53.41.
It was a day to remember for Arawa paddler Dylan Monk who secured a New Zealand treble of gold medals as well as a silver.
Dylan won national gold in the U18 K2 500m and Oceania bronze alongside Thiago Chamberlain and New Zealand U18 K4 500m gold – alongside Thiago, Liam Rogers and Callum Gard.
He also notched the U16 K2 500m New Zealand and Oceania title alongside Sam McAllister and just for good measure won national silver and Oceania bronze in the U16 K4 500m as Poverty Bay snared the national title and an Australian quartet the Oceania crown.
In the U18 division, Natasha MacGibbon and Leah McCallum (Arawa) secured the national K2 500m crown but had to settle for bronze in the Oceania Championship as Aussie duo Chelsea Jentz and Belle McBennett secured gold.
The masters men served up some exhilarating racing, Garth Spencer edging his North Shore club-mate Vaughan Reed to grab gold by 0.12 in a winning time of 4:12.46 to take the national 45-54 K1 1000m title.
Garth and Vaughan teamed up in the in the men’s K2 500m masters 45-54 race but has to settle for silver – 0.33 adrift of their North Shore club-mates Craig Simpkins and Andy Logue who secured gold in 1:50.12 in what was another close fought battle.
Neil Seales of Arawa proved the top paddler in the men’s K1 1000m +55 division.
A Waitara quartet claimed the New Zealand women’s U16 K4 500m title but had to concede gold to an Australian crew.
Zoe Anderson and Alexis Toy of Wanganui were dominant winners of the women’s U14 K2 500m final. Meanwhile, Poverty Bay dominated the U14 mixed K4 500m final to claim a comprehensive victory.