Kayakers win national titles

Top duo: Finn Butcher (left) and Marcus Norbury on their way to a gold in the C2. Picture: Supplied
Top duo: Finn Butcher (left) and Marcus Norbury on their way to a gold in the C2. Picture: Supplied
Easy does it: Rachel McLellan wends her way around the course. Picture: Supplied
Easy does it: Rachel McLellan wends her way around the course. Picture: Supplied

The Alexandra junior kayak slalom team has enjoyed its most successful competition, returning home with three national titles.

The 16-strong team competed in the national secondary schools championship and the national open slalom championships, held on the whitewater rapids of the Tarawera River at Kawerau in the Bay of Plenty.

‘‘Every person won a medal in at least one event,'' coach Gordon Rayner said.

Half of the squad was made up of kayakers competing in the under-14 agegroup and they dominated that group, he said.

The Alexandra team was mostly made up of Dunstan High School pupils, with three from Alexandra Primary also competing - Max Rayner, Daniel Arnott and Jeremy Norbury, who competed in a new, under-12 grade.

Standout performances came from Finn Butcher (13), who won the national under-14 C1 title and teamed up with Marcus Norbury (13), to win the under-14 C2 event. Finn, Marcus and Mathew Arnott, (13), teamed up to win the national schools title for under-14 K1 teams.

The individual under-12 and under-14 titles eluded Max and Finn, who were second in those events, 1sec behind the winners, Mr Rayner said.

The C1 and C2 Alexandra crews in the under-16 and under-18 grades, featured strongly, with second and third places in the various individual and team events.

The team's older competitors finished in the middle of the field in the K1 events. Some of the Alexandra competitors were hopeful their performances would gain them selection into the national junior development team.

All the kayakers competed in the national open championships as well as the earlier secondary schools event.

The national open was on a more difficult stretch of the same river.

‘‘The whole team competed at the national champs and they weren't just coping with the whitewater, they were racing,'' he said.

They are part of Central Otago Whitewater, and that organisation donated funds to help the team travel to the North Island.

‘‘The community can be proud of the squad and its achievements and the group also acknowledges the support we've received from the community. This trip has been made possible because of the goodwill of the community.''

The team enjoyed the experience and took the chance to kayak on two other rivers in the area. Mr Rayner and two of the more experienced members of the team had also kayaked down the Huka Falls.

‘‘The experience that the students already had has enabled them to run more difficult rivers safely,'' Mr Rayner said.

 

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