It was a great start for Nova Scotia paddlers at the 2021 Sprint National Championships on Mooney's Bay in Ottawa.
Two Nova Scotia men and two women won their events on the opening day of the regatta on Monday.
Craig Spence of the Cheema Aquatic Club in Waverley, N.S., paddled his way to an impressive win in the senior men's C1 1,000-metre race, finishing more than three seconds ahead of the second place finisher.
Nova Scotia paddlers Bret Himmelman and Andrew Billard, both from the Maskwa Aquatic Club in Halifax, finished in third and fourth place.
Dartmouth paddler Ian Gaudet of the Banook Canoe Club in Dartmouth, N.S., won the under 18 men's K1 200-metre race. It was a close finish, with Gaudet winning by just one tenth of a second.
"I knew it was going to be close and I knew it was going to be a good fight right to the end for the win," said Gaudet in an interview Tuesday morning from Ottawa. "To win the race feels absolutely amazing."
Two female paddlers from Nova Scotia are also bringing home gold. Geneva Bond of Maskwa won the under 18 women's C1 500-metre race, beating out Ava Carew of the Senobe Aquatic Club in Dartmouth.
Another Dartmouth paddler won in the senior women's K1 200-metre event — Grace Whebby of the Mic Mac Amateur Aquatic Club.
Many of the winners from Monday will be racing in other events during the week-long regatta.
For Gaudet, the win in the 200-metre race was special because he captured the Michael Schaus Memorial Trophy.
Michael Schaus was a former competitive paddler at the Banook club who competed for Canada at the 2005 world junior championships. He passed away in 2009 at the age of 21.
"His whole family is still very active with the club. They are still members and I see them almost every day," said Gaudet. "It's very important to me to bring their trophy back to the club."
While it hasn't been made official yet, Gaudet's win is expected to give him a nomination to the Canadian junior worlds team.
Gaudet would leave directly from Ottawa with the team for the event in Portugal beginning Sept. 3. The announcement is expected to be made official after he competes in the K1 500-metre and 1,000-metre events at nationals.
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