Canoeing: Community driving paddling success

It's official - Tauranga paddlers are leading the way at the elite level of the sport in New Zealand.

Canoe Slalom New Zealand released the rankings from the 2012/13 season and in nine of the 15 divisions the number one canoeist or kayaker is from Tauranga.

The list does not include national champion Mike Dawson, not eligible through injury, or the highly promising Callum Gilbert, ranked number two in New Zealand in the K1 Men's Under-18.

The rankings are an obvious reflection of the co-ordinated coaching programmes in place through Canoe Slalom BOP, Bay of Plenty Canoe Club and the Bay Trust Coach Force team led by Aaron Osbourne, who is also head coach for Slalom New Zealand.

Osbourne says the success comes down to a variety of factors but the future looks bright with so many younger athletes taking up the sport.

"We have a great facility to start with here for getting into kayaking at the Wairoa River and the Kaituna in Rotorua," Osbourne said.

"Down at Waimarino and Carters [Judea] we have flat water sites as well."

"But it all comes down to the supporters that are driving the programme and there is just a really good community of parents who are volunteering their time. The Canoe Slalom club has been working hard over the last three years on programmes to get kids into kayaking.

"The coaches are definitely doing a great job within the Bay to help support the athletes. The Coach Force programme has taken some good steps forward in teaching young coaches, and we have Martin Hammer here from the Czech Republic, who is doing a fantastic job working full time with our younger athletes."

Gibb says the coaching structure in Tauranga is far superior now to what it was when he started and has made for a more competitive environment, especially in the junior ranks.

He leaves for the northern summer in Prague next week and is excited about the racing and training to come.

Gibb will compete at world championship regattas while in Europe.

A training camp will be held from Thursday through the weekend based at Tauranga and Rotorua for 19 of New Zealand's top paddlers to train here.

Bay No 1 rankings

  • K1 Senior Men: Aaron Osborne.

  • K1 Under-23 Men: Callum Gilbert.

  • C1 Senior and Under-23 Men: Ben Gibb.

  • K1 Senior Women: Luuka Jones.

  • C1 Under-18 Women: Haylee Dangen.

  • K1 Under-16 Men: Jack Dangen and Patrick Washer (1st equal).

  • C1 Under-16 Men: Daniel Munro.

  • C1 Under-23 Women: Kelly Travers.

  • K1 Under-14 Women: Claudia Paterson.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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