Ken Wallace and Lachlan Tame, competing in their first major International competition together, blitzed a world class field in atrocious conditions on Thursday to qualify fastest for Saturday's K2 1000 final.
Wallace, at his 13th World Championships, and Tame, at his second, showed they meant business when they breezed through their morning heat, and then backed up that form by demolishing European powerhouses Slovakia and France in their semi-final.
And Sydney's Murray Stewart announced himself as a strong medal prospect in his individual event, even though he had to rely on other results to get through to Saturday's final of the K1 1000.
Stewart finished a close third in his semi-final, and with only the top two automatically qualifying, he had to rely on being the next fastest boat. His time, though, turned out to be fourth fastest of all the qualifiers.
“It was a bit stressful I guess, it’s not really how you want to do it, you want to make it easy for yourself,” a relieved Stewart said.
“I’ve just got to refocus now and go back to my usual race plan for the final. It’s not the way I would have liked to get into the final, but there’s nothing in it so I’m still pretty confident.”
Australian Canoeing has high hopes for the Wallace/Tame combination, a boat put together on a strong hunch they could match the world’s best.
Tame is Australia's premiere 200 metre sprinter, while Wallace is one the world's most powerful finishers.
"To get a cracking time this morning and knock off the guys who got second last year, and then race two crews now who are awesome and got medals at Europeans is a good start," Tame said.
"But everyone turns up for the finals so we've got to pull something better out."
Making their second ever major International race even more daunting was the atrocious conditions, with buffeting winds and driving rain.
"It was very challenging for us, as a new crew, to get a cross wind like that blow up in the last 10 minutes, it was quite scary really," Tame said.
"Especially for a little fellah hanging in the back with him (Wallace)."
Wallace, the Beijing Olympic and multiple world championship gold medalist, is excited by the boat’s potential.
“Things are looking pretty good I think,” he said.
“We wouldn’t have a clue (how good we could be) because every race is a new experience for us.”
Wallace will have a chance for a second gold medal on Saturday when he defends his 5000 metre title.
Wallace first won the longest race on the World Championship program, a non-Olympic event, in 2010, and then collected the gold again last year.
His younger sister, Bernadette, will compete in the women’s 5000 metre final.