Not bad for a club that operates out of the back of three containers on the banks of the Clive River.

This comment was uttered more than once by members of the Hawke's Bay Kayak Club at Canoe Racing New Zealand's annual Sports and Recognition Awards function in Rotorua last weekend after they collected the Club of the Year award.

"It's the first time we've won it and it's the first time it has gone to one of the smaller regional clubs," delighted chairman Darren Brown explained.

His club, which has 40 members, beat regular winners North Shore, a club that boasts more than 100 members, for the award.


"We had a bit of growth this year which resulted in us having to have a waiting list for members because we didn't have the facilities, equipment or number of coaches to cope," Brown said.

"Hawke's Bay is a small club who has taken a good strategic look at themselves over the past year and has actively worked to improve their internal systems and their connections to the community from the ground up. They have established new schools partnerships, used their athletes to coach and mentor entry-level paddlers, developed a social media presence and long term plans to support their vision of having clubrooms," CRNZ's media manager Steve Landells said when outlining the reasons for the club's success.

Brown pointed out several of their paddlers with international experience assisted with the coaching of Taradale Intermediate School paddlers at the AIMS Games in Tauranga.

He said the club's biggest challenge for the future is meeting the criteria required to have clubrooms built at Clive's Farndon Park.

Olympian Aimee Fisher is one of six paddlers from the club who have represented New Zealand this year. Hamish Legarth, Jack Wilkinson, Daniel Brown, Brooke Cheyne and Reuben Rorrison are the others.

Hastings Boys' High School student Wilkinson, who won gold with a New Zealand under-16 mixed K4 200m crew at the Asia Pacific Sprint Cup regatta at Lake Karapiro in May, was a finalist for the junior paddler of the year award in Rotorua and Wilkinson and Lindisfarne College student Daniel Brown were beaten for the team of the year award by the Kiwi women's K4 crew which includes Fisher.

Wilkinson and Brown were undefeated as a K2 crew during the 12-month period ending March 30.

Club stalwart and multiple national title winner as a paddler and coach Ben Bennett is the club's head coach. Barry Coleman and Fisher's father Chris are the other coaches.


The club's next major regatta will be the Lake Karapiro-hosted nationals from February 15-17.