Quartet win national honours

10 May 2018

Whanganui paddlers Liam Lace (left), Lucas Thompson, Jack Clifton and Sophie Brooke, all students from Whanganui High School, are primed to impress in the Kiwi junior team at the Asia Pacific Sprint Kayak Regatta in Adelaide this weekend.

PHOTO / Brian Scott

Four young Whanganui Kayak Club athletes have surfaced from a gruelling trial process to represent New Zealand at the inaugural Asia Pacific Sprint Kayak Regatta in Adelaide this weekend.

After a gruelling process of testing, racing and team boat assessments the four, Sophie Brooke, Lucas Thompson, Liam Lace and Jack Clifton are all excited about an international regatta held in what is effectively their backyard and are looking at testing themselves against athletes from Australia, Japan and Singapore. They make up part of the national junior team.

The regatta has been set up to strengthen high quality international racing opportunities in the Southern Hemisphere and looks set to include the wider Asia and Pacific region, which potentially could include countries such as China, Tahiti and the USA.

"Although sprint kayak is predominantly a Eurocentric sport the past few decades both New Zealand and Australia have had their fair share of international success," Whanganui coach Brian Scott said.

It is expected that those two countries will field strong teams at the regatta, but they should expect fierce competition from Japan and Singapore as they begin to invest more into the sport.

"With the Tokyo Olympics already on the minds of athletes worldwide, Japan in particular, will be wanting to taste early success and perhaps develop athletes for the 2020 games in their home country."

The regatta in Adelaide is raced in three age groups, under-16, under-18 and under-21.

"In her first international regatta, Sophie Brooke will be racing as an under 16 competitor with a big emphasis on team boat racing," Scott said.

"The focus boat for the under-16 girls will be the K4 with the girls seeking to establish depth in the girls division after the success of the Lisa Carrington-led open women's K4 at the Rio Olympics and the 2017 world champs where the Kiwis were bronze medallists against the powerhouse German and Hungarian crews.

"For the boys Lucas Thompson is heading one under-18 K4 boat with the coaches looking to develop that boat to create depth in the junior men's group. They will not only be challenging the international boats, but will also be racing the other New Zealand under-18 k4.

"This K4 has been selected to race at the Junior World champs in July this year and includes Liam Lace and Jack Clifton in the engine room.

"Although the world champs crew should be slightly favoured over the crew headed by Thompson, both crews will be likely to be going head-to-head with the Australian under-18 k4 that will be racing at world champs.

"For the boys this is an opportunity to see how fast their boats are, and how much work needs to be done before the world champs," Scott said.

Although focusing on the bigger boats for a performance, all Whanganui athletes will have to race either single boats (K1) and/or doubles (K2) and all will have big race schedules over the weekend.

"Although not desirable racing multiple races, the athletes will all be playing their part in the tactical racing as the regatta is also about pitting country against country for the overall points tally.

"Given the year-to-year strength and depth of the Australians the New Zealand team will have a hefty challenge, but some mighty battles are expected."

By Iain Hyndman
Wanganui Chronicle 10/5/18