The opening event of the 2023 Paddle Australia domestic season was a resounding success on the weekend, with athletes traveling from far and wide for the 2023 Canoe Slalom Age Championships in Forth River, Tasmania.
With traditional C1 and K1 events, as well as team events, C2 races and the newly named Kayak Cross events, it was a fantastic three days of slalom action, with athletes competing from the U14 category through to the Masters and Veteran categories.
The Tasmanian hosts, the Derwent Canoe Club, were the standout club of the Championships, winning the ACAWA (Assoc Canoe WA) Champion Club Trophy for the most gold medals won, with 17 age championship national titles.
Athletes of all ages had the opportunity to compete against Tokyo 2020 Olympian Daniel Watkins, who won gold in the Men’s K1 and placed fourth overall in the Men’s C1.
Claire Clements from the Derwent Canoe Club was a standout performer in the Women’s events, winning overall gold in the women’s C1, Kayak Cross and C2 events, while placing seventh overall in the K1, but first in her U18 age division.
As Clements aims to qualify for the national junior team, she said her experience in Tasmania has boosted her confidence.
“Racing was really good, I was pleased with all my runs, I got clean runs with fast, tricky moves,” Clements said.
“This is quite a big event and it’s great to see all the new Ivanhoe [Grammar School] kids here.
“Coming up next for me, I want to make the junior women’s team and compete in the Australian Open, come top three and make the percentage.”
Tasmanian Hamish Dalziel was a familiar sight on the Men’s podium, winning Kayak Cross gold, and overall C1 and K1 silver, while topping his U23 division in both events.
The Boocock surname appeared in many podium results as at least one member of the Tasmanian family competed across every event over the three days.
Atlanta 1996 Olympian Justin Boocock won gold in the Men’s C1 and placed third overall in the Men’s K1, and first in the Veteran category. He also teamed up with fellow Olympian Peter Eckhardt to win silver in the Men’s C2, behind Western Sydney’s Whitewater Clubs’ Dominic Curtain and Ewen Mackie.
Competing in the Women’s U16 category, Justin’s eldest daughter Freja placed third overall and first in her division of the C1 and K1, won gold in the WC2, alongside Claire Clements, and placed fourth in the new Kayak Cross event.
Her younger sister Madeline, competing in the U14 category, also won her division, while placing fourth overall in the K1, fifth in the C1 and first in the Mixed Canoe Double with U23 paddler Kieren Black.
Rounding out the family affair, mum Jen Boocock placed seventh overall and second in the Women’s Masters division in the K1.
“It was a fantastic weekend of racing with lots of fun times on and off the water,” Justin Boocock said.
“If there’s one piece of advice that I take from my late mother it’s to make the most of every opportunity. I’ve tried to impart this wisdom on to my kids and the rest of the Tassie squad. That’s why we entered everything we could, and that’s why there are so many great memories from the event.
“It’s busy and exceptionally rewarding [to compete alongside my family]! They have caught the bug, and it means we can spend time together doing what we love. What could be better?”
Boocock is also one of the coaches and organisers of the local Tasmanian Slalom Stingers Club. He said the opportunity to host the national championships in his backyard will leave a lasting legacy for the local slalom community.
“Hosting the event enabled our less experienced kids and parents to not only see what a national event looks like, but to also have a go,” he said.
“Holding the event at Forth has enabled the local club to get back on their feet after years of flood damage. They plan to run a slalom squad of their own now there are permanent gates, which will bolster the state’s paddling community.
“Our whole slalom community is running on a high after the event and have been frothing to get back on the water. We’re already planning the future and are booking in for more fun times at the senior Nationals in Penrith at Easter
Taroona High School won the Galoway Linden Woodward award for the best school result.
See all results HERE
The Paddle Australia Canoe Slalom Age Championships was supported by the Tasmanian Government through Events Tasmania.