With Lisa Carrington not competing in the K1 events, the door is open for a flurry of young contenders at this weekend's New Zealand canoe sprint championships at Lake Karapiro.
After an impressive 12 months - featuring Olympic gold and bronze and capped last week with the supreme Halberg Awards title - Carrington will skip single-boat racing and concentrate solely on team boats for her Eastern Bay club.
It means fresh winners for the women's K1 200m and 500m titles for the first time in nearly a decade, with Olympic K4 paddler Caitlin Ryan (North Shore) among those challenging over the longer distance.
"The 500 is something I've been doing really well at for the past couple of months, technically and physically, and I'd love to put together a world-class performance this week," Ryan said. "I'm also aware there are some young girls who will be hunting that title too, though - it's exciting to see the new talent coming through and raising the standard further."
Ryan's K4 teammates Aimee Fisher (Hawke's Bay) and Wellington's Kayla Imrie will also be hunting titles, with Fisher a warm favourite in the 200m after finishing second to Carrington last year and placing eighth at the German ICF world cup round in May.
Rising North Shore stars Rebecca Cole and Briar McLeely and Poverty Bay's Kim Thompson will be pushing to translate their under-23 prowess into open success, with all three joining Ryan, Imrie and Fisher in team boats during the upcoming world cup series in Europe.
It's a similar story in the men's division, with six-time national K1 200m champion Scott Bicknell not racing this year and Olympic K1 1000m paddler Marty McDowell returning from a long post-Rio break, refreshed and refocused, but without a race since August.
In his absence, young rivals Quaid Thompson (Poverty Bay) and Kurtis Imrie have shared selection spoils, with Imrie in particular eager to take on his Mana clubmate McDowell.
He's part of the new national high performance squad training in Auckland under coach Fred Loyer and wants to measure the gains he's made over the last two months, having inspiration close to home in the form of his older sister.