CANOE/KAYAK: A host of Australian athletes have put their names forward for national selection with some strong performances at the Grand Prix 2 (GP2) at Sydney International Regatta Centre.
Murray Stewart demolished the field in the K1 1000 A final winning 3:30.25, 4.96 seconds ahead of Ken Wallace.
U23 World Championship silver medalist Jordan Wood finished third in 3:37.23, narrowly ahead of fellow U23 Queensland product Bill Bain.
Stewart got off to a decent start before powering away from the field in the middle 500. Wallace made a late surge in the final 250, but Stewart was a clear winner by about 25 metres.
“It was always going to be a fast start, some of the guys like Lachie (Tame) got away very well so I was just trying to focus on my lane and my race plan and just try and not look around too much,” Stewart said.
“It was always nice to get away with a comfortable win, but it is never really comfortable in a 1000 metre race, it is a really tough race and I think that it is a good start to the season but I have got to do it a few more times.”
The men’s K1 200 A final was contested in the afternoon with Steve Bird building on his heat and semifinal wins to be a clear winner in the final.
The Canning River paddler won in 36.16, 0.34 seconds ahead of fellow Western Australian Brodie Holmes.
South Australian Callum Dunn edged fellow U23 kayaker Ben McLean for third by 0.19 seconds.
“It has been a fantastic off season so I expected to go well and I am very happy,” Bird said.
Luke Morrison and Glenn Rypp fought a close battle in the K1 500 A final with Morrison prevailing by 0.22 seconds in 1:44.34.
In the senior women’s events, Jo Brigden-Jones and Naomi Flood held off U23 Sunshine Coast pairing Alyce Burnett and Alyssa Bull by 0.21 seconds to win the K2 500 final in 1:45.07.
Alana Nicholls and Jaime Roberts finished third in 1:46.60.
The victory followed a dominant performance by Brigden-Jones in the K1 200 final on Friday.
“It is the first selection race and I hit it off pretty well so I am happy to make the team first up,” Brigden-Jones said.
“I guess the long term plan is to race world champs in August so I guess I am building towards that and I am just hoping to make the team along the way, so to do that is good.”
National Women's Head Coach David Foureur was impressed with Burnett and Bull’s performance.
“The encouraging things for those girls is that they are still U23 and they both had great results at U23 Worlds last year because Alyce was third in the K1, and Alyssa Bull was fifth in the K2 with Cat McArthur so seeing those both progress and step up was good,” Foureur said.
In the canoe events Jason Nejman and Marius Florian combined to win the C2 1000, while Ben Keogh and Jace Bayliss won the C2 500.
In Paracanoe, Victorian Amanda Reynolds added the TA K1 500 to her K1 200 victory on Friday.
“It has been a good meet. We have had a few changes in the boat so we are getting to work with those because we have only just had a new brace put in so it was the first race with that and we are doing really well,” Reynolds said.
After winning bronze at Worlds last year, Reynolds is looking to improve in 2015.
“Oh yeah we are going for gold,” she said.
Brock Ingram and Sam Germein impressed in the men’s K1 500 final winning the LTA and TA classes respectively.
In the V1 500 open-class finals Curtis McGrath and Susanne Seipel recorded victories.
Avoca paddler Ella Beere and Ivanhoe kayaker Oliver James were the two standouts in the junior events.
Beere won the U18 K1 500 final in 2:02.43, 0.98 seconds ahead of Onkaparinga paddler Francesca Kidd, with Rachel Duncan rounding out the podium.
Kidd won the U18 K1 1000 final in the event of the day.
While James won four gold medals in the U18 K1 1000, K1 500, K2 1000 and K2 500 events.
He won the K1 1000 final in 3:48.00, 2.10 seconds ahead of kiwi Tobias Brooke.
James also combined with Joshua Rew-Jones to complete the U18 K2 double, adding the 1000 title to the 500 event which they won on Friday.
In an ominous sign a year out from Rio, Jo Brigden-Jones, Alana Nicholls, Naomi Flood and Bernadette Wallace raced the fastest K4 500 time of 1:32.51 ever recorded in Australia.
They finished 2.38 seconds ahead of Amy Peters, Alyce Burnett, Jaime Roberts and Alyssa Bull.
Flood said it was “pretty fun”.
“It is always fun to go fast with no training and throw it in and do a pretty good time”, Flood said.
The K4 win followed a comeback victory for Flood in the K1 500 earlier in the day.
It was an intriguing final with nothing separating the top five paddlers of Flood, Alana Nicholls, Bernadette Wallace, Alyssa Bull and Alyce Burnett at the half way mark.
With 100 metres to go Nicholls looked set to take the win, before Flood stormed back into contention in the closing 50 metres to snatch the victory by just 0.23 seconds in 1:53.13.
Wallace took the bronze in 1:54.25, 0.89 seconds ahead of Bull. Burnett was in next with just 1.64 seconds separating the top five women.
In the non-Olympic events South Australian pair Madison Davies and Cat McArthur won the K2 200 final, and Josie Bulmer won the K1 1000.
In the men’s event, Murray Stewart capped off a perfect regatta adding the K4 1000 and K2 1000 victories to his K1 1000 win on Saturday.
Stewart and Jacob Clear upstaged World Championship silver medalists Ken Wallace and Lachlan Tame in the K2 final winning by 0.32 seconds.
Stewart, Clear, Wallace and David Smith combined to take out the K4 1000 final in 3:01.35, 0.71 seconds ahead of Joel McKitterick, Jordan Wood, Riley Fitzsimmons and Jy Duffy.
Steve Bird completed the 200 metre double by adding the K2 200 victory alongside Jesse Phillips, to his K1 200 triumph yesterday.
The London Olympians dominated the final finishing a boat length clear of fellow Western Australian’s Brodie Holmes and Todd Brewer.
Phillips was “very satisfied” with the win.
“My development through the season has had to be fast tracked for this event so I am really happy to come away with the win and certainly more so happy to come away with the margin that we did which is really exciting,” Phillips said.
Ben McLean & Callum Dunn finished a close third, 0.03s behind Holmes and Brewer.
“We had a pretty good K2 there in the final and got the boat up and moving nicely and settled really well. It was a pretty good race together so I was pretty happy with that,” McLean said.
McLean is aiming to be selected in the U23 team this year. He has developed a good rivalry with his K2 partner in the K1.
“We paddle K2 together so we are really good friends and it is good to push each other and have someone next to you who is pushing you all of the time.”
In the second last race of the day Tim Stenlake and Simon McTavish won the K2 500 final in 1:33.94.
Earlier, Sebastian Marczak dominated the men’s C1 200 final winning in 42.41, 4.50 seconds ahead of 17 year old Charles Ellis.
Ellis fought a close battle for second place with fellow West Lakes youngster Jace Bayliss, with Ellis prevailing by 0.38 seconds.
The C2 200 final was won by Bayliss and Ben Keogh in 46.28, 3.25 seconds ahead of Ellis and Thomas Clarken.
In paracanoe Curtis McGrath was a clear winner in the V1 1000 final, while Susan Seipel won the women's version.
Amanda Reynolds won the K1 1000, while Brock Ingram won the men’s K1 1000 ahead of Sam Germein.
In the junior events Jakob Hammond was a standout in the U16 age group winning the K1 200 and combining with Angus Schmidt to win the K2 200.
Likewise, Western Australian Monique Carbone completed the U16 womens double with victories in the K1 200 and K2 200 with Erin Blanch.
In the U18 age group Joshua Rew-Jones and Oliver James completed the K2 treble by adding the K2 200 win to their K2 500 and K2 1000 victories earlier at the regatta.
James missed out on completing the U18 K1 treble, with New Zealand kayaker Karl McMurtie edging the Ivanhoe paddler in the K1 200 final by 0.29 seconds.
In the final junior event of the GP2 program Avoca paddler Ella Beere won the U18 K1 200 final in 46.42, 1.14 seconds ahead of Rachel Duncan, with Francesca Kidd rounding out the podium.
The athletes will now return to their home states and start preparing for the National Sprint Championships at the Sydney International Regatta Centre from 11 to 15 March.