Canoe Polo Hawke's Bay officials had plenty to toast at the weekend.
Two current Hawke's Bay representatives, Ben Hulena and Jacob McNeil, and two former Bay reps, Massey University-based Liam Bowden and Liam Ward, were selected in the New Zealand under-21 men's team for the September world championships in Rome. The national side was announced after the weekend's annual Art Deco tournament which attracted a record 54 teams to Canoe Polo Hawke's Bay's new four-court Mitre 10 Park complex in Hastings.
Canoe Polo Hawke's Bay chairwoman Kelly Hepburn said her organisation was rapt with the selections and also the comments visiting players from Christchurch, Auckland, Wellington and Palmerston North gave her about the complex.
"Everyone was happy and there was no criticism of the construction of it," Hepburn said.
Former Hastings Boys' High School student Bowden, was named captain of the New Zealand team. He played for Expose of Palmerston North who won the weekend's open grade final with a 5-4 win against Vikings Black of Palmerston North in a final which required a period of golden goal extra time.
Former St John's College Ward played for Vikings Black.
The women's A final saw Dumble Dores Army of Otaki beat the Drifters Invitation team 4-1. Three periods of extra time were played before Wellington's Paladins pipped St John's College 5-4 in the open B final.
Palmerston North's Valkyries Ravens pipped the Karamu High School senior girls side 3-2 in the women's B final and an all-Manawatu open C grade final saw Vikings Chrome pip Vikings Cobalt 2-1.
Hawke's Bay's former national representative Jed Graham, who retired from international play in 2017, played for the Hawke's Bay Hurricanes A1 men's team which finished seventh and coached the Hurricanes A2 team which finished sixth. The Hurricanes A1 team beat Vikings Gold from Palmerston North 4-2 in the playoff for seventh while the A2 team lost 4-1 to Vikings Valhalla from Palmerston North in the playoff for fifth.
"I'm a little bit disappointed with those placings as the A1 team finished fourth in a similar type of tournament two weeks ago out of town," Graham said.
"We were hoping for a semifinal this weekend but with members of both teams putting in numerous voluntary hours on the new complex for the past two-and-a-half months I believe we ran out of gas on day two of this weekend's tournament," Graham explained.
"Our goal keeper [Liam Barendsen] was unavailable for the A1 team this weekend because of his wedding and he is big key to the side," McLaren Stainless Ltd mechanical engineer Graham said.
The A2 team, which included former Karamu High School student McNeil who is back in the Bay this year after spending last year in Palmerston North, pipped the A1 side 4-3 in a clash which required a period of golden goal extra time. Former Havelock North High School student Hulena played for the A1 team.
Havelock North High School product Graham, 30, who has been playing canoe polo for 20 years and coaching for 15 of those pointed out he, like Hepburn, received plenty of positive feedback about the new complex.
"Obviously it's not quite finished yet but it was close enough for this weekend's play. We can complete the finishing touches during the next couple of weeks."