Bay of Plenty athletes are the dominant force in the New Zealand team named yesterday for the ICF World Cup series in Europe.
Of the 20 paddlers named to compete in the open and under-23 grades for C1 and K1, 16 are from Bay of Plenty.
The Bay's supremacy at a national level is across the experience spectrum from Olympians Luuka Jones and Mike Dawson to up-and-coming talents like Claudia Paterson, Josh Bell and Callum Aitken.
Jones has been selected in C1 ranks for the first time, as well as K1 where she won silver at last year's Olympics.
Callum Gilbert, 21, has double reason to celebrate with his national selection coming after being given High Performance Sport New Zealand support for the next two years. He is now a carded athlete alongside fellow Tauranga paddlers Jones and Dawson.
Gilbert had an impressive international season in 2017, making the semifinals in all five world cup races - a feat not even Dawson has managed.
Gilbert is living in Auckland spending as much training time as possible on the new Vector Wero Whitewater Park course in Manukau.
Canoe Slalom Bay of Plenty chairwoman and National Performance Programme manager Sue Clarke has seen Gilbert's rapid progress from when he first got into a kayak.
She is rightly proud of how the coaching programmes supported by BayTrust CoachForce are consistently producing top class talent.
"We have a really strong programme which has just got stronger over the years and it is exciting to see the juniors coming through who are the total product of our coaching programme that we initiated a few years ago," Clarke said.
"Callum Gilbert, for example, has come right through our coaching programme. In the old days when we just had Mike (Dawson), he did a lot of self-coaching but Callum is definitely out of the Bay of Plenty programme.
"We also have natural resources with the Kaituna River close by and Wairoa River and we have flat water gates set up down by Carters off Waihi Road. For the last six years we have brought in coaches from overseas and we have really seen the fruits of that coming through across all the age groups."
Clarke is hopeful of future Olympic success to come from the Bay of Plenty talent pool.
"I think we are setting ourselves up well for that. We definitely have more people behind Mike and Luuka than we have ever had before who are closing the gap.
"We are tracking really well with that talent ID coming through. The (New Zealand) junior boys team are all Bay of Plenty paddlers."
New Zealand team:
K1: Men: Callum Gilbert (Bay of Plenty), Finn Butcher (Otago), Mike Dawson (Bay of Plenty); Women: Luuka Jones (Bay of Plenty), Kensa Randle (Otago), Jane Nicholas (Bay of Plenty).
C1: Men: Ben Gibb (Bay of Plenty), Patrick Washer (Bay of Plenty), Shaun Higgins (Auckland); Women: Luuka Jones (Bay of Plenty), Kelly Travers (Auckland), Haylee Dangen (Bay of Plenty).
K1: Men: Callum Gilbert (Bay of Plenty), Finn Butcher (Otago), Alex Hawthorne (Bay of Plenty); Women: Kensa Randle (Otago), Courtney Williams (Bay of Plenty), Haylee Dangen (Bay of Plenty).
C1: Men: Patrick Washer (Bay of Plenty), Callum Gilbert (Bay of Plenty), James Thwaite (Auckland); Women: Haylee Dangen (Bay of Plenty).
Junior: K1: Men: Zac Mutton (Bay of Plenty), Damien Torwick (Bay of Plenty), Callum Aitken (Bay of Plenty); Women: River Mutton (Bay of Plenty), Claudia Paterson (Bay of Plenty).
C1: Men: Josh Bell (Bay of Plenty).