King Kurtis reigns again in the K1 500m

Olympic-bound Kurtis Imrie backed up his success on the opening day of the NCZT New Zealand Canoe Sprint Championships at Lake Karapiro to provide the highlight of the Saturday programme today courtesy an emphatic victory in the open men’s K1 500m.

The Mana paddler, who yesterday claimed K2 1000m gold – alongside his fellow Tokyo Olympic representative Max Brown – and K1 1000m silver, revealed his class with a commanding win over his pet distance against a top-class field in a time of 1:46.25.

Producing a spirited defence of his title, Ashton Reiser (North Shore) banked silver in 1:48.27 with Quaid Thompson (Poverty Bay) – a further 0.44 back adding bronze to the same colour medal he won yesterday in the K1 1000m. Max Brown, the K1 1000m champion, finished fourth (1:50.10).

Imrie looked in imposing shape through the rounds, unleashing the fastest time of the nine qualifiers from the semi-finals to offer a strong hint he would be the man to beat in the final. 

In a high-class A Final in which all nine men had genuine medal chances, Reiser along with Imrie established the early pace to quickly put their stamp on the final.

From the midway point, however, it was Imrie who gradually started to pull away and leading into the final 150m he further extended his advantage to claim a dominant win and regain the title he won in 2018 and 2019.

Competing in a tough crosswind, Reiser battled on to claim a richly deserved silver with Thompson finishing powerfully from the inside lane one to take an impressive bronze.

Imrie said: “I’m over the moon. The 500m is one of my favourite events and I’m excited my race went really well. We had challenging conditions out there, with a massive crosswind. I’m pretty stoked with that.

“I’ve learned over the years to ignore the weather. I grew up in Wellington, so I’ve trained in pretty average conditions before. I just go out there, put my best foot forward and today I was lucky enough to come away with the win.”

Imrie paddling alongside Taris Harker, Tim Waller and Jonty Laver for Karapiro had to settle for silver behind Arawa in a compelling final of the open men’s K4 500m.

The Arawa quartet of Jake Koekemoer, Ethan Moore, Hamish Legarth and Ben Duffy got out the stronger of and always held a slight advantage from the Karapiro foursome.

Leading into the final stages, the Christchurch-based team lengthened their advantage to win in a time of 1:29.42 – 0.58 clear of Karapiro.

The Whanganui crew containing Brown, the men’s K1 1000m champion, grabbed bronze in 1:32.05.

Rising U23 paddlers within the CRNZ women’s squad, Lucy Matehaere and Samalulu Clifton grabbed gold in a highly-competitive open women’s K2 500m final.

With a group of the leading women’s paddlers competing at the Olympic K4 Trials in Auckland there were opportunities for the younger less experienced paddlers to step up and earn national honours and the crew of Matehaere and Clifton seized the opportunity to win in 2:03.71 – finishing 1.14 seconds clear of Sophie Brooke and Emma Kemp (Mana)

Bronze was awarded to Brooklyn Saunders and Alex Bermingham (Mana), who completed the distance in 2:07.63.

The gold medal pairing had carried a significant amount of crew boat work together last year and that experience paid dividends today.

Clifton said: “We paddled a lot together last year and we got in quite a good position before nationals in February until it was postponed (because of Covid restrictions). We’ve had a bit of time out of the boat together recently but it was good to get the win.”

Matehaere added: “It felt pretty good. It was a hard battle out there, but I’m glad we got it done. I’m happy with that.”

Three-time World Championship medallist Aimee Fisher, who romped to victory in yesterday’s open women’s K1 500m, climbed to the top of the medal podium again today helping the Poverty Bay quartet to a commanding win in the open women’s K4 500m final.

Fisher teamed up with Saunders, Kim Thompson and Bermingham to power to gold in 1:45.90 with the CRNZ quartet of Olivia Brett, Clifton, Matehaere and Tara Vaughan in silver (1:49.74). Bronze was secured by the Mana crew in 1:55.05.

The star performer in the age group categories was Greer Morley who produced a herculean effort to win both the women’s U16 K1 200m and U18 K1 200m with an exhilarating all-round display.

The North Shore paddler secured the U16 race by a 1.70-second margin from Natasha MacGibbon (Arawa) before a little under two hours later taking out the U18 crown.

In a titanic battle, Julia Padrutt (Waitara) appeared to have control of the race for much of the 500m course only for the impressive Morley to produce a powerful late surge, which propelled the teenager to gold.

Morley stopped the clock in 2:09.61 – 1.30 clear of Padrutt with MacGibbon – who also took on the challenge of competing in both the U16 and U18 K1 500m races – taking bronze (2:10:86).

Padrutt featured in the gold medal-winning Poverty Bay crew alongside – Genna Robertson, Scarlett Old and Emma Brownlie – who took out the women’s U18 K4 500m.

Meanwhile, MacGibbon added the full suite of medals today as part of the triumphant gold medal-winning K4 U16 200m.

The men’s U18 K4 500m final proved a close run battle, but ultimately it was the Eastern Bay quartet who proved too strong for Arawa – earning victory by a 0.94 margin in 1:45.29.

Logan Ferguson (Karapiro) was an eye-catching winner of the men’s U16 K1 500m final, clocking 2:00.34 to repel the challenge of Whanganui duo Zane Mills-Nossiter (2:02.50) and Angus Sewell (2:05.45) who claimed the minor medals.

Mills-Nossiter and Sewell later paired up to secure the U16 men’s K2 500m to clinch victory in 2:00.77 from the chasing North Shore boat (2:02.10).

Ollie Egan and Matt McKendry bagged the first gold medal of the day in the U14 men’s K2 500m final. The Poverty Bay duo later returned for the U14 K1 500m but has to settle for the minor medals as Hayden McLaren (Waitemata) took out the gold medal in 2:14.45.

Poppy Barnes completed the triple crown of U14 women’s honours to take out the K1 500m to add to the K2 and K4 500m title she snared yesterday.

The Waitara club paddler was a class apart, completing the half kilometre distance in 2:35.73 to win my more than a four-second margin from nearest pursuer Hannah Webb (Poverty Bay) who banked silver.

Following the afternoon break – a number of 200m finals took place with Nenni Disse (North Shore) adding the masters women’s K1 200m title to the K1 500m gold she claimed the previous day.

The women’s U18 K4 200m final, arguably, served up the race of the day as the Waitara combination of Padrutt, Emma Brownlie, Scarlett Old and Genna Robertson edged the North Shore crew of MacGibbon, Morley, Tara Vaughan and Abbey Smith by 0.38, clocking 40.96. In a thrilling and close-fought final, the Cook Islands claimed bronze in 41.75.

The final day of the 2021 NZCT New Zealand Canoe Sprint Championships concludes tomorrow with the  men’s and women’s open K1 200m finals providing the likely highlights.

Up to the minute draw and results can be found via our App (find Canoe NZ in the Play Store – free to download). Or check the Live Results Website 

Images: Georgia Schofield