Podium finishes for McDowell at nationals

SUE CLARKE
Last updated 12:00 01/04/2014

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Nelson's Tommy McDowell was third overall and second in the under-18 age group in his specialist C1 class at the Canoe Slalom New Zealand nationals on the Hawea River, near Wanaka, over the weekend.

The course, which incorporated the man-made play wave designed by American expert Scott Shipley, was running at 65 cumecs and proved to be more physically demanding and longer than most were used too.

For the first time at a New Zealand nationals, CSNZ followed the international format with a 2 run qualification, a semifinal and a top-10 final in each of the classes.

With the non-attendance of the two New Zealand Olympians, Mike Dawson and Luuka Jones, the door was wide open for new names to be etched in the history of the sport.

It was a series of races for the young and up and coming with 16-year-old C1 (canoe) paddler Patrick Washer from Tauranga just over five seconds ahead of top seed Ben Gibb. Gibb had raced well all weekend to win qualifications and semis but was pushed offline and had to paddle back for gate 13 losing valuable time and the national title, to settle for second overall and the under-23 title.

Washer earned himself the junior title with New Zealand team mates McDowell second in the under-18 and James Thwaite of Tauranga third junior.

In the highly competitive K1 men's class, 19-year-old Finn Butcher from Alexandra put together two consistent runs to win the tough semi and then backed it up again in the finals winning by nearly three seconds.

Butcher said that he was thrilled to get a good race under his belt two weeks before departing with the New Zealand team for the under-23 world champs at the Penrith course in Sydney.

Junior champion, Callum Gilbert, of Tauranga was second overall to Butcher with Malcolm Gibson (Palmerston North) having to settle for third.

Nelson's Blake Hornblow, who is studying at Otago University, finished a creditable third in the B final.

Eighteen-year-old Haylee Dangen of Tauranga relished the challenge of the pushy white water to win not only the K1W title but the C1W title as well. Tauranga's Nicholas siblings Ella and Jane were second and third respectively in K1, with Ella also second in C1W by just one second. Kelly Travers (Palmerston North) was third in this emerging women's class.

Kaydi O'Connor Stratton (Mt Maunganui) took the under-18 title ahead of Suzy Cumming (Tauranga) and Kate Pascoe (Alexandra). The fastest junior female was Kensa Randle winning the under-16 age group, ahead of Tauranga's Claudia Patterson while Maddie Wilson also of Tauranga won the under-14 girls' K1.

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As the only New Zealand representatives in C2 (two in the canoe), Tauranga crew Dan Munro and Luke Robinson felt the pressure in the semis, doing just enough to get through to the finals. Their final was a totally different performance with a clean run earning both junior and senior national titles.

- Nelson

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