Whanganui once again proved what a breeding ground it is for top class paddlers after a crew of just 18 returned home from the 2019 Sprint Kayak Nationals at Lake Karapiro with 14 gold medals.
The Whanganui Kayak Club, the kayaking division of Whanganui Multisport Club, had paddlers competing in the premier men's division down to age group events including under-13, under-14 and under-18.
Coach Brian Scott said the Whanganui crew had an outstanding regatta finishing up third equal on gold medals won with Poverty Bay behind Arawa from Christchurch with 22 golds and North Shore with 17.
"We finished with 14 golds, but Arawa had 49 paddlers and North Shore 56 compared to our 18 and the majority of our medals and titles were won in the u13, u14 and u18 age groups," Scott said.
"It goes to show what depth and promise we have here in Whanganui where the training conditions are second to none. The Whanganui River certainly gives us an edge."
Highlights at the higher level included two open men in the top six in the premier male event, the K1 1000m where Max Brown won bronze and Toby Brooke finished sixth.
Brown, who is now part of the New Zealand High Performance squad in Cambridge training on Lake Karapiro, teamed up with Kurtis Imrie from Mana to win the K2 1000m, while Brooke won bronze in the 5km event and silver in the open men K4 500m when teaming with Brown, Liam Lace and Ethan Moore from Mana.
"Not all won medals, of course, but they were all awesome, so proud of them all. And there was some great team work involved, we have a great team culture which is crucial. This is the beginning of some cool stuff in coming years," Scott said.
"The u13 crew won their division overall to claim the Tyro Cup. The boys, Angus Sewell and Alex Hamblyn won everything they went in, including gold in the K4 with Greta Cox joining the boys. Greta also won silver and bronze. Then Angus stepped up a grade to team with Zane Mills-Nossiter to win the u14 K2 200m and 500m. Zane had a tremendous regatta winning three golds in the K1 200m, 500m and 5km race, which is a very tough event.
"In the u18 age group Lucas Thompson at stroke, Jack Clifton, Archie Tonks and Cameron Russell absolutely destroyed their rivals in the K4 200m. Archie is the son of legendary rowing coach Dick Tonks and he travels down from Cambridge to raining with us here in Whanganui. His father was from here and Archie still has family in Whanganui.
"Unfortunately, we had to pull Archie out of the regatta after he developed a fever and we replaced him with George Pedley from the u16 crew. george had been doing so well as stroke of the u16 crew that he was in the front of the u18 K4 boat in the 500m race. They got away to a pretty slow start, but by te 450m mark they had paddled their way through the entire field to hit the front. Unfortunately, they were only just pipped on the line by Poverty Bay - it was a huge effort," Scott said.