Queenstowner Stephen Bartlett, training here on the Kawarau River, is making a splash on the kayak scene.
The teenager will represent New Zealand as a junior freestyle kayaker at the world championships after winning selection to the national squad.
Bartlett, 17, also finished second in the juniors at the National Kayak Freestyle Championships on a new man-made million-dollar “play wave” on Hawea River at Wanaka.
“The new wave is awesome,” the Wakatipu High pupil says.
“I’m delighted to win selection – the worlds will be held in North Carolina in September so I’m aiming towards that.”
‘Playboating’, dubbed freestyle kayaking for competition and in the running for the Olympics, sees a kayaker perform a variety of technical tricks such as 360 spins and aerial flips in one place on a wave.
“They all have really weird names – McNastys, Phonix Monkey. That’s probably my favourite – you do a pirouette and then turn it into a front loop, flipping your boat in the air,” he says.
Bartlett began kayaking on Shotover and Kawarau rivers, progressing from slalom to creeking [big drops] to playboating.
The youngster now hopes to attract new sponsorship from local companies to help fund the US trip.