Ella Nicholas won the K1 women’s division while baby sister Jane Nicholas took out the C1 women’s race.
Having flown north, from where they study in Christchurch, for a national performance squad training camp, the pair jointly celebrated their double win.
Ella, who has represented the Cook Islands for the last eight years, was in second place after the heats but picked up the pace to put down a flat time of 110.35 plus a 2 second penalty to finish just over three seconds ahead of Haylee Dangen from Tauranga in the final.
Sister, Jane Nicholas, who is in the New Zealand team for both K1 and C1 took the C1 title by just 0.28 seconds from Auckland based Kelly Travers. Finishing third New Zealander in K1, she was a little disappointed with her performance but attributed some of this result to having to use a borrowed boat.
“If anyone is going to beat me I’m happier if it’s my sister Ella,” she said afterwards.
All the hard work is paying off for the sisters who are both studying medicine, with Jane in her fith year and Ella her sixth.
They follow a punishing schedule, with either a gym session or a run before getting to the hospital for an 8am start.
After class finishes, it's a 40-minute drive for a paddle on a virtually flat water course, with gates. Although they would prefer bigger white water to train on, they are grateful for the support of Christchurch City Council for the work done at their little site in the Groynes. Weekends it’s the Groynes in the morning and a flat water paddle at Kerrs Reach on the Avon by the Arawa Canoe Club if they are not travelling somewhere for a training camp or race.
All this is a juggle with the workload required to study medicine, but both commitments are made easier by having the support of each other.
"Sometimes it's a struggle to get to training but we have committed to each other so we do it. We understand each other and are generally tolerant when we are having a bad day. It's a special sisterly relationship,” say the siblings.
In addition to their studies they have support from a mentor and fellow Cook Islander, Doctor Kiki Moate and the Pacific Island medical group in Christchurch.