Event Preview- Canoe sprint champs set to sparkle

The 2023 NZCT Oceania & NZ Canoe Sprint Championships & Asia Pacific Cup promises to serve up a feast of top-class action on Lake Karapiro across a jam-packed four-day programme from Friday-Monday April 21-24.

A total of 355 paddlers from the novice and U12 divisions through to masters and elite world-class performers will descend on Cambridge in the battle for national honours with competitors from New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Singapore and the Pacific Islands in the hunt for titles.

One of the most eagerly anticipated races on the programme will be the women’s K1 500m featuring five-time Olympic and 12-time World champion Dame Lisa Carrington (Eastern Bay)

The 33-year-old kayaking icon is one the stars of New Zealand sport but the multiple times Halberg Award winner knows she will face a powerful challenge from 2021 World K1 500m champion Aimee Fisher (Hawke’s Bay)

In a repeat of their epic 2022 showdown – when the two domestic stars of canoe sprint racing raced off in pursuit of the one boat per nation spot as allowed by the International Canoe Federation at the World Championships – the top-class duo will once again be locked in a best-of-three selection trial.

Chasing the women’s K1 500m spot at the 2023 World Canoe Sprint Championships in Duisburg, Germany, the first race of the series will take place in heat one of the women’s K1 500m on Friday (April 21) at 12.50pm with the second race of the selection trial – the national K1 500m final – on Saturday (April 22) at 9.10am. Should a third race be required this will take place on Monday (24 April) at 9.20am.

Expect the 2023 selection to serve up a titanic battle akin to last year’s head-to-head showdown. On that occasion Aimee edged Dame Lisa by just eight hundredths of a second in the first race to capture the K1 500m 2022 NZCT New Zealand Canoe Sprint title.

Dame Lisa bounced back from her narrow defeat to Aimee in the nationals final to prevail in the second and third races of the series to earn 2022 World Championship selection, where she went on to claim the world K1 500m crown – as well as K1 200m title – in Dartmouth, Canada.

Other leading women’s paddlers to keep an eye throughout the regatta include 2022 World Championship representatives North Shore duo Alicia Hoskin and Tara Vaughan and Olivia Brett (Arawa).

Another interesting entrant is Danielle McKenzie, an ocean paddling specialist and elite ironwoman, who is trying her hand at kayak sprint. Set to make her NZ sprint nationals debut, Danielle has been a dominant force in ocean ski racing since she claimed the 2019 World championship, backing it up with a silver in 2022. The Gold-Coast based 29-year old is the one of the most decorated NZ surf athletes and recently placed third overall in the recent Nutri-Grain IronWoman series.

The blue riband event in the men’s programme is the open K1 1000m and expect fireworks in another highly competitive event. The three podium finishers return from the 2022 national champs as gold medallist Ben McCallum (Waitara) will once again clash with the minor medallists from last year – James Munro (Otago) and Ben Duffy (Arawa). Look out too for former K1 1000m World Championship representative Quaid Thompson (Poverty Bay), 2023 World U23 Championship K1 1000m rep Grant Clancy and his North Shore club-mate Kacey Ngataki – a world Waka Ama champion.

The men’s K1 1000m paddlers will also be trialling for the one spot available for the 2023 World Championships. Like the women this will take place across a best of three format. The first trial race will be the men’s K1 1000m final on Friday (21 April) at 10.56am. The second – and should it be required – third trial race will be contested on Sunday (23 April).

Expect some high-class racing in the K1 200m and K1 500m with the 2022 champions in both events – Ben Duffy and James Munro – returning to defend their respective titles.

Watch out too for Tokyo Olympic K2 1000m fifth-place finishers Max Brown (Whanganui) and Kurtis Imrie (Mana), who will look to impress across a range of events.

The action to be no less intense in the Para divisions with 2022 World Championship KL2 200m bronze medallist Scott Martlew (Arawa) competing alongside Corbin Hart (North Shore), who placed fifth in the KL3 World Championship final last year.

CRNZ General Manager of Performance Nathan Luce said: “The NZCT New Zealand Canoe Sprint Championships is the highlight of our domestic season and as the event this year hosts both the Oceania Championships and Asia Pacific Cup this will add an extra dimension to the competitive programme.

“We anticipate some top quality racing across all divisions from our world-class and developing paddlers right through to our masters, novice and U12 entrants.”

The Asia Pacific Cup will see U16, U18 and U21 paddlers from Australia, Singapore, Japan and New Zealand clash across the four-day programme. The single class competitions will take place from Friday through to Sunday (21-23 April) with the crew boat action on Monday 24 April.

***Selected races will be livestreamed on the Paddler NZ Youtube channel ***Follow the live results via the CRNZ app or here
***For the event guide go here
***For the event programme and lane draws go here