Team Australia has won the inaugural Asia Pacific Sprint Cup in Adelaide (11 – 13 May 2018) after three days of exciting racing on West Lakes.
The first time event saw 136 junior and developing canoe sprint athletes compete in the Under 16, Under 18 and Under 21 age groups in the Olympic class events as well as mixed gender relay events. In its first edition, six countries competed at the event with athletes coming from Australia, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, Tahiti and the Cook Islands. Points were awarded for each race with Australia winning the overall point score with 490 points ahead of New Zealand in second (407) and Japan in third (247).
The Asia Pacific Cup is a new event that started as a developing initiative between the founding partners Australia, New Zealand and Japan in response to the need for an international competition for developing athletes in the region.
“It was a fantastic regatta. It’s something we started to talk about probably twelve months ago as a developing initiative between Australia and New Zealand in the first instance and it grew to the point where we had 136 competitors and six nations and it became an outstanding event. Everyone enjoyed it and we had some really competitive racing, which was great to see,” initiator and Australian Canoeing National Pathways lead David Foureur explained.
“With this event, we can give our U16 athletes a great developing opportunity without a huge expense of going to Europe. Also, the timing in May is perfect and will benefit the athletes long-term. And for our U18 and U23 athletes who will head to the World Champs next it acts like a World Cup and gives them the sense of what’s going to happen when they move into the Senior ranks and into their World Champs in July,” Foureur added about the reasoning behind the event.
“The future is looking bright and winning the overall Asia Pacific Cup is fantastic, but New Zealand gave us a real challenge and Japan was a bit of a surprise pack. They came out and won a number of events, which was great to see. And to see Singapore here with a team of 26 along with Tahiti and Cook IslaMds was absolutely fantastic.”
Olympic Champion and three-time Olympian Ken Wallace (QLD) also came down to Adelaide to support the event, which he says is a “no-brainer” and an important initiative for the development of kayaking in the Asia Pacific region.
“We love racing the Europeans, but they are literally on the other side of the world, so we might as well race our neighbors and everyone in and around us first. This is a perfect platform for our up and coming athletes to practice their racing and strategize about how they are going to take on the rest of the world. We’re giving them the experience to race against each other and we are also helping some of the developing countries in the sport to get better in what they do and the sport will thrive from it,” Wallace said.
Wallace spend the weekend sharing his experience with the up and coming talent and was excited about the opportunities this new event will offer Australia’s future paddling stars: “It was great to see all the young guys and girls here and it was awesome for them to come up and ask questions but it was also great for me to see how they do things and how other countries are doing it. We can all learn from each other, I learned a lot from these kids and hopefully, they learned one or two things from me as well. I’ve seen many kids here this weekend where I say that technically they will do something special and the world is at their feet.”
In Adelaide, Australia was represented with the biggest team of 42 athletes, including the 2018 Junior and U23 World Championship team, who made the most of the opportunity to get some international racing experience in before heading overseas in July.
“Coming here gives you an idea about how the other countries are going and that makes it a bit of an advantage going into worlds because you know how some of the countries are paddling,” U23-team athlete Ethan Neville (NSW) said.
Neville had an impressing race series at the Asia Pacific Sprint Cup winning the MK1 200 U21 ahead of New Zealand and Japan, the MK2 500 U21 together with Jakob Hammond, the MK4 500 (Neville, Hutchinson, Hammond, Cunningham) as well as the Mixed Relay 200 events.
While the level of competition was high, the event also offered much more than just the racing as U23 team athlete Keily Dober (NSW)explained: “It’s been incredible getting to know the other countries that have come down and we’ve made some really good friends. Next year the Asia Pacific Cup will be in New Zealand and it will be great to see all our new friends again there.”
And about the event as a whole, she added: “It’s been incredible to have such an amazing array of athletes coming down to Australia for us. It’s been a really good three days, with challenging conditions, but we’ve all come together to support each other. We’ve come out on top so we’re really excited and really happy with that.”
And about her own racing, she added: “I’ve been really happy with my racing this weekend and to have this international race experience has been really good to see where I’m at before going into the World Championships in Bulgaria in July.”
Dober, who will be representing Australia again at the ICF Canoe Sprint Junior and U23 World Championships in Plovdiv Bulgaria in July (26 – 29 July 2018), won the WK4 500 U21 together with Yale Steinepreis, Joana Charles and Jemma Smith ahead of New Zealand and Japan. She also won the WK4 200 (Steinepreis, Dober, Beere, Burt-Poloai), finished third in the WK1 200 U21 with Australian Ella Beere winning the event and Alicia Hoskin (NZL) finishing second. Together with her teammates Caitlin Burt-Poloai, Ethan Neville and Fletcher Cunningham she also took home the win in the mixed relay 200 U21 ahead of Japan and New Zealand.
The Asia – Pacific Sprint Cup is scheduled to take place annually with New Zealand hosting the event in 2019, Japan in 2020 and Australia again in 2021 on a rotational ongoing basis.
The Asia-Pacific Sprint Cup is open to any country with the event expected to grow in the future and to become an International Regatta recognised by the International Canoe Federation.
For more information see the event webpage here: http://canoe.org.au/events/asia-pacific-cup/