Rising stars highlight NZ canoe racing champs

14/02/2015 by Steve Knowles
New Zealand's next generation of top paddling talent shone through on the second day of the Canoe Racing New Zealand national championships at Lake Karapiro today.

While Lisa Carrington's single-seated dominance should continue in tomorrow's K1 200m final, there will be plenty of interest in the performance of 20-year-old Hawke's Bay product Aimee Fisher.

Caitlin Ryan (left) and Aimee Fisher on their way to silver in the K2 200m final on the second day of the Canoe Racing New Zealand national championships at Lake Karapiro.

Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services
Fisher won her heat and progressed directly to the final, along with Carrington and Australian Alana Nicholls, with Fisher toppling another Australian, Jo Brigden-Jones, by 0.02secs.

It continued an outstanding championships for Fisher, after combining with North Shore's Caitlin Ryan to win the K2 500m title, beating Carrington and Jaimee Lovett and Brigden-Jones and Naomi Flood into the minor placings.

"Lisa still sets the standard but it was amazing to beat her for the first time," Fisher said. "That was a massive win and it's given us a huge amount of confidence.  The last five months have been huge and I've never trained so hard in my life but it's really paying off."

She's been training hard as part of a New Zealand K4 squad, which aims to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics later this year.  Ryan, Lovett, world 5000m champion Teneale Hatton and Kayla Imrie are also in the squad, and all have made huge strides under new national women's coach Rene Olsen.

Lovett and Carrington got a measure of revenge in today's K2 200m final, although Ryan and Fisher again toppled the top Australian pair, who were seventh at the London Olympics, to collect silver. Fisher is excited about testing her progress against Carrington when they line up as individuals tomorrow.

"Last time we raced at Blue Lakes 2 before Christmas, I was a second and a half behind her in the heat and she eased up at the finish.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how close I can get to her tomorrow."

Choppy conditions at Lake Karapiro made racing tricky, with many relying on surf lifesaving skills to cope with the brisk easterly breeze.
It was tailor-made for national K1 1000m champion Marty McDowell - who is also the national surf ski champion - as he continued his outstanding championships, combining with Wellington teenager Kurtis Imrie to win the K2 1000m title.

The pair provided a gripping finish, clocking 3mins 20.65secs to edge Poverty Bay brothers Daryl and Jarrod Fitzgerald (3:21.30), with North Shore's Jasper Bats and Zac Franich just 0.64secs further back in third.

National K1 200m champion Scott Bicknell comfortably qualified for tomorrow's final, joined by Bay of Plenty teammate Andrew Roy and Mana's William Wilkins as direct qualifiers from the heats.
K2 200m: Eastern Bay (Jaimee Lovett/Lisa Carrington) 37.31secs 1, North Shore (Caitlin Ryan/Aimee Fisher) 38.06 2, Australia (Jo Brigden-Jones/Naomi Flood) 38.54 3.
K4 500m: Eastern Bay (Carrington/Flood/Brigden-Jones) 1:32.07 1, North Shore (Lovett/Ryan/Fisher/Teneale Hatton) 1:33.83 2, North Shore (Briar McLeely/Kayla Imrie/Rebecca Cole/Rachel Clarke) 1:42.15 3.
K2 1000m: Mana (Kurtis Imrie/Marty McDowell) 3:20.65 1, Poverty Bay (Daryl Fitzgerald/Jarrod Fitzgerald) 3:21.30 2, North Shore (Jasper Bats/Zac Franich) 3:21.94 3.