Olympic trio off to strong start

Robin Jeffery C1M qualification runs
Australian Open - Friday 22nd February 2013
Photograph:Lauren Fitzsimons
Tom Collings, Friday, 22 February 2013

The 2013 Australian Open is underway with the mens C1 and womens K1 heats concluded.

It has been a tough morning of racing with a strong wind making it a challenge for the paddlers when navigating the gates down the fast Sydney Olympic Course.

The wind didn’t seem to affect Western Australian pair Robin Jeffery and Kynan Maley who finished first and second respectively in the mens C1.

“There was a little bit of wind, but it is good because the course is pretty protected so weather wise it was almost an advantage sometimes, sometimes the poles would swing the right way it is just about looking for those opportunities,” said Jeffery.

After a solid first run, Jeffery produced a fast and clean second run of 90.31 to finish 0.3s ahead of Maley, with Frenchman Thibaut Vielliard first run time of 90.63 placing him in third.

“In the second run I had an absolute shocker coming off the start and ended up about two meters low and tried to do a bit of footy style hip and shouldering off the rocks at the bottom of the gate, but got that out of my mind quickly and charged the rest of the run and it actually turned out pretty well.”

Ian Borrows (6th), Christian Fabris (10th) and Ethan Hodson (12th) also comfortably qualified for tomorrow mornings semi final.

Jeffery will also contest the C2 this afternoon with Hodson.

Asked about what approach the newly formed duo will take Jeffery responded, “We will be looking to be really solid, run some easy lines and take advantage of the extra boat speed we really have in places.”

In the U23s Derwent River paddler Andrew Eckhardt produced the goods, with his time of 101.29 placing him 17th overall, one spot ahead of Victorian Jaxon Merritt.

Western Australian Steven Lowther was the best of the junior athletes vying for selection in 20th ahead of fellow Ascot club member Brodie Crawford.

In the womens K1 heat Austrian Corinna Kuhnle showed why she has been a previous World Champion producing a blistering clean fast run of 91.80 to top the timesheet.

Kuhnle finished 0.62s ahead of London Olympic silver medallist Jessica Fox, who bounced back after an indifferent first run, with German Ricarda Funk improving by 12 seconds in her second run to place third.

New South Wales paddler Rosalyn Lawrence and Victorian Sarah Grant round out the top five, with both producing fast runs, an ominous sign ahead of tomorrow’s semi final.

There is still plenty of racing to come this afternoon with the mens K1, mens C2 and womens C1 heats to be raced with semi final berths and National selection up for grabs.

The action resumes from 3:30pm with the mens K1 paddlers headlined by Australian Lucien Delfour, German defending champion Sebastian Schubert and French number one Etienne Daille.

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