Wanganui kayakers punched well above their weight and proved they were highly competitive among the cream of New Zealand paddlers when finishing second club overall at the ICF Oceania and New Zealand Canoe Sprint Championships at Tikitapu (Blue Lake) in Rotorua at the weekend.
The kayak division of the Wanganui Multisport and Triathlon Club sent 26 athletes to the nationals and collectively accumulated enough points to finish second overall to the strong Poverty Bay club that has two full-time paid coaches, including one from Hungary.
The Wanganui Kayak and Multisport Club has two unpaid volunteer coaches, Aaron Cox and Brian Scott.
The Wanganui team also claimed the Copper Shield for the top overall masters and open points team on the strength of wins in the K2 masters from Scott and Cox.
Cox is a former wild water teams racing world champion with a victory at Bala in Wales in 1995.
However, both Cox and Scott said it was the combined effort from paddlers in all grades that gave Wanganui its best result in the national competition in Rotorua.
"This is a fantastic result and shows we are right up there," Cox said yesterday.
"We did particularly well in the younger age groups which is exciting, although it was a combined effort with some standout performances throughout the grades."
Aiden Nossiter and Max Brown did particularly well combining to win the Under-18 K2 1000m, 500m, and second in the 200m events. They were also dominant in the K4s, combining with Lachie Cromar and Toby Brooke to win the U18 1000m and 200m events.
Nossiter and Brown are now eagerly awaiting the announcement of the New Zealand team to head to the World Junior Championships in Toronto, Canada in August. The team is to be named next month.
"Based on their performances at the nationals it is a fair bet they will make the team," Cox said.
"Toby Brooke has some exciting times coming up too, He is off to the GP3 competition in Australia on February 27.
"And for the first time we have a top U23 performer with Phoebe Cromar winning the K1 5km race against older and far more experienced paddlers. Phoebe has only been paddling for 18 months."
Brooke won both the U16 K1 500m and 5km events.
"It's difficult to single anyone of our team out though. It basically comes down to what weight you give each age group - we had wins or podium finishes in all grades and that's the really exciting thing," Cox said.