Taris Harker proved the king of speed on the opening day of Blue Lake 1 to take a dominant victory in the Men’s Division 1 K1 200m A Final on a chilly day in Rotorua.
The 24-year-old Karapiro Kayak Club paddler was prominent from the early stages and despite a strong mid-race challenge from Ben Duffy, Taris responded with a late surge to secure victory in 38.57.
Ben (Arawa) produced a good paddle to bank second some 0.48 further back with Zach Ferkins of the Poverty Bay club snatching third in 39.24.
“I was hoping to win, but I wasn’t expecting to,” says Taris, who is combining training 12 times a week with a part-time role as a quantity surveyor.
“It is Blue Lake 1 anything can happen, but I got the result I wanted, so I’m happy with that.
“Winning today means I am healthy, which gives me confidence I am on the right track moving forward to Blue Lake 2 and nationals.”
Hamish Legarth and Ben Duffy have long boasted a well- established combination in the K2 boat and the duo once again delivered to take top spot in a competitive open men’s K2 200m final.
Legarth and Duffy stopped the clock in 33.81 – to finish just 0.28 clear of Karapiro Kayak Club pair Ethan Moore and Taris Harker. North Shore duo Ashton Reiser and Kalani Gilbertson claimed third in a time of 36.83.
Four members of the CRNZ men’s squad teamed up to form a powerhouse quartet, which stormed to victory in the final of the open men’s K4 200m. Hamish, Ben, Zach and Ashton proved unstoppable to bag the race in 32.86 – 1.06 secs clear of Karapiro, who produced another strong showing in second.
Aimee Fisher produced a commanding performance to ease to victory in the Women’s Division 1 K1 200m A final. The former World U23 champion for the distance showed her class to complete the distance in a swift 42.09 – more than five seconds clear of London 2012 Olympian Teneale Hatton (47.34), who was making a successful return to sprint racing after a period focused on surf ski. Teneale’s North Shore team-mate Samalulu Clifton rounded out to the podium positions in third (48.31).
“It was really good to line up and have a bit of a hit out as it has been quite a long time since I last raced, which was back at nationals,” says Aimee.
“It was good to line up with some quality competition and good to see Teneale (Hatton) back in the fold.
“I’d done some time trials on the lake in Auckland, so I had an idea of what I was capable of. I had some numbers in the back and of mind and how I wanted to execute the race and I’m really happy with how it went.”
Aimee returns on Sunday to compete in the K1 500m and her first ever 5km.
It was a successful day for Alicia Hoskin and Alex Bermingham who claimed top spot in both the open women’s K2 and K4 finals.
In the former event, the Poverty Bay pairing defeated Samalulu Clifton and Teneale Hatton (North Shore) by a margin of 0.72 – to win in 42.38.
Alicia and Bermingham had earlier teamed up with Samalulu and Aimee Fisher to grab victory in the open women’s K4 – completing the 200m distance in 38.13.
Candidate for most thrilling race of the day, came in a titanic scrap for victory in the senior mixed K2 200m final. The Imrie siblings, Kayla and Kurtis, made a powerful start only for the Hawkes Bay duo of Hamish Legarth and Aimee Fisher to snatch top spot by 0.14 from the Mana brother and sister act in a time of 37.36.
In the younger age-groups the day served up many multiple winners led by U18 women Julia Padrutt and Scarlett Old. The Waitara duo struck gold in the U18 K2 200m and also formed one half of the club’s successful assault on U18 K4 200m event. The duo then served further notice of their talents by placing a handy fourth (Julia) and fifth (Scarlett) in the division one open women’s K1 A final.
Hawkes Bay duo Daniel Brown and Hamish Macky also impressed in the U18 men’s division, striking K2 200m and K4 200m gold medals.
Katie Skeels and Sophia Lawson toasted more success for the Hawkes Bay club nabbing top spot in the U16 K2 200m and also featuring in a victorious Hawkes Bay U16 K4 quartet.
In the men’s U16 category, Wanganui pairing Angus Sewell and Zane Mills-Nossiter also completed the K2 200m and K4 200m double.
The same K2 and K4 sprint double was also secured by Amber Dearness and Amandine Marriette of Poverty Bay club who triumphed in the girls U14 K2 200m and as one half of the club’s mixed U14 K4 success.
World K2 marathon masters champions Garth Spencer and Vaughan Reed of the North Shore club showed their versatility by completing the masters K2 200m and K4 200m double.
One of the most heart-warming stories of the day was the performance of Para canoeist Corbin Hart, who impressed on his competitive debut to finish second in the men’s division two K1 200m A Final. Corbin, of the North Shore club, lost his right leg in a civil roading accident in December and only started training for kayak earlier this year. Corbin impressed today to take second in a time of 44.98.
Tomorrow the action begins at 7.30am at Blue Lake. Among the highlights are the men’s and women’s division one K1 500m A Finals and the open K1 1000m.
For full results go to https://www.canoeracing.org.nz/all-events/results/or download the Canoe Racing App.
Check out the CRNZ Instagram and Facebook pages for some cool drone footage of today’s action.
Words: Steve Landells
Images: Quinn Pedley