Lisa Carrington has wasted no time getting her kayaking season under way, collecting the ninth New Zealand K1 200m title of her illustrious career at the National Canoe Sprint Championships at Lake Karapiro.
A week after winning Halberg sportswoman of the year, Carrington returned to the water in style on Friday, clocking 39.74s over her specialist distance to head off a quality field.
Under-23 world champion Aimee Fisher (Hawke's Bay) was second in 41.38s, just ahead of North Shore's Caitlin Ryan, who finished in 41.53s.
Carrington skipped the individual races at nationals last year following the Rio Olympics but showed she'd lost none of her hunger, a decade after her first national title.
"Last year, I was watching and I kind of forgot how nervous I get for nationals so it was nice to be back here racing the girls - you have to come here expecting to race world-class paddlers. I've got a lot of experience in the event but it was nice to have a good hit-out, six months out from worlds," Carrington said.
Great conditions at the weekend made for sharp times and close racing, none more so than in the men's K2 200m, where North Shore's Ashton Reiser and Karl McMurtrie flew home in 34.20s, just 0.40s clear of Mana's Ethan Moore and Kurtis Imrie.
It capped a good day for McMurtrie, who was the leading Kiwi in the K1 200m, also pipping Imrie by just 0.06s. They both trailed Japanese visitor Momotaro Matsushita, who clocked 37.59s to win.
Reiser and McMurtrie also joined Tim Waller and Tuva'a Clifton to win the men's K4 200m, heading home Arawa and Mana crews, while Fisher and Elise Legarth combined to win the women's K2 200m, from Mana's Kayla Imrie and Danielle Watson.
Meanwhile, Saturday was a day Quaid Thompson will never forget, winning his first K1 1000m national kayaking title.
The Gisborne 20-year-old's father, Allan, amassed a tidy collection; the 1984 Olympic champion picked up seven national titles in his illustrious career, though he was 21 by the time he collected his first in 1981. He coaches his son at the Poverty Bay club, and Thompson junior is delighted to keep up the family tradition.
"I was a bit flat after last year's nationals (where he finished third) but after going to Europe last year, I came back knowing exactly what I needed to do. I've been happy with how I've been going over summer and I've managed to get in some really hard training over the last two months, so it was nice to be able to peak properly for an event and come away with a win," he said.
His victory this year came in 3m 42.02s, nearly 4s clear of Whanganui's Max Brown, with Imrie third in 3m 46.71s.
Imrie and Brown got a measure of revenge later in the day, however, coming from behind to win the K2 1000m, just 0.40s ahead of Thompson and his Poverty Bay teammate Jordan McLarin.
The feature women's race of the day saw Lisa Carrington edge out her world champion K2 teammate Caitlin Ryan in a thrilling K1 500m final, with Carrington clocking 1m 49.78s and Ryan 1m 50.25s, after leading for the first half of the race.
The three-day championship finishes today with men competing in the K1 500m heats and finals and women tackling the K2 500m, as well as the 5km finals.