It was a strong weekend for Whanganui paddler Max Brown and his Mana partner Kurtis Imrie, who have punched the ticket for their K2 1000m boat to be shipped to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic Games.
The question now is whether Brown and Imrie will get to occupy the seats, which will be decided by the upcoming Kiwi trials, but the pair did themselves no harm with a sixth place A Final finish and a semifinal victory at the Oceania Canoe Sprint Championships in Penrith, Sydney.
In addition, both Brown and Imrie competed individually in the K1 500m division against the best the Australians had to offer and also made the A Final, although they finished at the back of the pack in 8th and 9th for what was not their specialty event.
Brown and Imrie's time of 3m 24.15s to come second in their K2 1000m heat on Friday was enough to get their black boat to Tokyo.
Race winners, the New South Wales duo of Lachlan Tame and Murray Stewart, finished five seconds ahead of them.
However, Australia had already booked an Olympic berth for this event at the World Championships, and because Brown and Imrie finished ahead of the best of the rest from the wider region, they received the second spot available to Oceania via quota.
The Olympic Qualification System only allows each nation to qualify a maximum of one men's boat from the Oceania Qualifier.
Brown and Imrie's six-boat heat included three Australian crews plus one each from Samoa and the Cook Islands, while a Tongan K2 crew had been a late scratching.
The Kiwis then won their semifinal race against seven Australian crews and the Cook Islanders, finishing in 3m 28.39s to take a 1.84s victory over the South Australian crew of Owen McLeod and Chris Kither.
Brown and Imrie were even quicker in the A Final, finishing in 3m 20.16s, but that reflected the stronger field with their sixth placing, as Queenslanders Tom Green and Jean van der Westhuyzen were comfortable winners in 3m 12.27s, ahead of Tame and Stewart, while the combined NSW/Queensland duo of Riley Fitzsimmons and Jordan Wood were third.
Coast to Coast: Whanganui team third in tandem race
Concurrently in the K1 500m competition, Brown had a victory in his 8-boat heat, winning in 1m 42.12s, just 0.11s ahead of Western Australian rower Jesse Phillips.
Brown then he repeated the dose in the 9-boat semifinal with a victory in 1m 40.53s, getting the satisfaction of finishing ahead of Tame.
However, the A Final against the other top rowers, where two advanced from each playoff, was a different level - Brown's 1m 41.57s time being well off Green's winning time of 1m 38.20s, followed home by his K2 team mate van der Westhuyzen, while another Queenslander in Jordan Wood also went under the 1m 39s mark.
There was also plenty of success for local rowers at the 2020 NZCT New Zealand Canoe Sprint Championships on Lake Karapiro at the weekend, with the Whanganui Chronicle having further coverage tomorrow.