It has only been six years but Adam Tripp has gone from being an idolizer to an idol at the Hawke's Bay Rowing Club's New Year's Regatta.
Slightly embarrassed, Tripp, appreciated and understood the comparison when put to him. The 2012 Olympic Games reserve was at the weekend's Clive-based regatta as a member of Rowing New Zealand's Summer Squad.
"It's a case of back to grassroots rowing for the squad. Back up at Lake Karapiro things can get pretty serious ... here we can have a bit of fun," Hawke's Bay's Tripp, who first rowed in the regatta in 2004, explained.
However like his crewmates including fellow Bay product Richard Harrison in the men's open eight preliminary final on Saturday Tripp was far from impressed with the handicap officials gave them which resulted in the crew finishing last on the 1400 metre course.
"Hopefully our handicap won't be as big when they let us row in the final tomorrow [Sunday] and we can get a turn on some good water and show the public what this eight can do," Tripp said.
Tripp and co got their wish and after starting on scratch with the other crews did as Bay club captain Ross Webb predicted. They rowed alongside the other crews until the bridge and went up a gear or two to turn on a spectacle for the crowd on the way to victory.
Tripp and Julia Trautvetter secured a shootout win for Hawke's Bay in the mixed pair yesterday.
New Zealand under-23 representative Abbey Green and Mike Harrison won the respective open women and open men's shootout titles for Hawke's Bay and the host club also won the eights shootout.
Hauraki Plains won the quad shootout.
Lindisfarne College product Tripp, who was introduced to the sport by his father and Bay club stalwart Dick Tripp in 2003, sees the eight as his best chance of competing at the Rio Olympics in 2016. He was a member of the Kiwi eight which finished second in their last qualifying race for last year's Olympics which they had to win to qualify.
"Providing we all stick together and there aren't too many injuries along the way we can make it. But injuries do come into play," Tripp said.
An injury to now retired New Zealand teammate Matthew Trott almost saw Tripp row at last year's Olympics.
"There was a 50-50 chance for me in the men's quad when Matt got his back injury. The buildup was pretty exciting ... a lot of people don't realise how awesome the Olympics is. I had the ultimate sporting experience and did everything except race the 2km.
"The Olympics is like going to an All Blacks test every day for a week. It's like a week of wedding receptions or a week of 21sts. Looking at all the famous athletes in the food hall was a huge buzz," Tripp explained.
Tripp was impressed with the enthusiasm among many of the young Hawke's Bay rowers he saw in action during the weekend.
"The intermediate boys fours crews have heaps of potential. Young Michael [van Der Peet] is definitely promising and there are a couple of others who I have forgotten their names ... I'm not home enough to get familiar enough with them.
"Looking at the number of novice girls also the club is in pretty good shape."
After taking a break from studying last year because of his Olympic Games commitments Tripp intends to start a post graduate business course at Waikato University this year.
Webb's pre-regatta confidence was backed up by the host club's competitors who retained the Hawke's Bay Cup for the most points in convincing fashion. Hawke's Bay finished with 79 points, Wanganui-Aramoho were second with 45 and Hauraki Plains third with 14.
The hosts also won the novice boys trophy and Wanganui-Aramoho took home the novice girls trophy.
After Saturday's races a boat naming ceremony was held for a new quad boat. The club has a tradition of naming new boats after club members who have given considerable service to the club and sport.
This boat was named after Hewitt Harrison who has been a member of the club since 2000 and recently retired from the treasurer's role he had for 11 years. Harrison started a club at Epsom Girls Grammar School in the mid 1980s and is a former Auckland Rowing Association board member and former official at Karapiro.
The secretary of Rowing New Zealand's Officials Association, Harrison, won Rowing New Zealand's administrator of the year award last year.