CLINTON, P.E.I. -- Jason McCoombs of Dartmouth, N.S., raced to gold in his Canada Games debut Tuesday, then the rest of Nova Scotia's paddling team simply followed in his wake.
The 16-year-old won the C-1 500 metres as Nova Scotia marched to the podium in every event on the first day of canoe/kayak. Nova Scotia finished the day on the Southwest River with five gold medals, a silver, and four bronze.
"At every event we do well in, there's one race that gets people energized, and I think that might have been it, that was the one that gave us the gas," said Nova Scotia coach Jeff Houser. "I could not ask for 10 better races, everybody gave it everything, nothing left on the course.
"Gold medal, silver medal, bronze medal, it doesn't matter so much. If they're racing like that, then we're great. This is awesome so far."
McCoombs won in one minute 57.731 seconds, pulling away over the latter half of the race to cruise to a win over Antoine Meunier of Quebec, who took the silver in 1:58.765. Dustin Shaw of Mississauga, Ont., took the bronze in 2:00.225.
"I started making my move around the 200-metre mark and caught up," McCoombs said. "Usually I go out hard from the start but today I decided to change it up. That was really fun, I'm really happy."
Hannah Vaughan and Jenna Marks of Dartmouth paddled to three medals apiece. Vaughan, 21, won bronze in the K-1 women's 500, then teamed up with Erika Taras of Waverley, N.S., to take gold in the K-2 500, and Taras, Nicole Brown of Waverley, and Michelle Russell of Fall River, to win gold in the K-4 500.
"It's a strong tradition we have, success at the Games," Vaughan said. "We're really proud that we're able to represent the province and bring home some medals because it's really a sport that Nova Scotia excels at, especially in the Dartmouth area."
Marks, 19, won a medal of each colour, finishing third in the C-1 500, then teaming up with Maria Halavrezos of Dartmouth to take gold in the C-2 500, and Halavrezos, Kelsey Cuvelier of Lawrencetown and Adrienne Keene of Dartmouth to capture silver in the C-4 500.
Twins Brian and Dennis Stever of Dartmouth won the C-2 500 four years after Dennis had to sit out the Canada Games in Regina after breaking his collarbone in a surfing accident.
"Winning gold definitely was a goal, we've had our sights set on it the last four years since I was injured and didn't get to compete," Dennis said. "This was definitely a great beginning to the week."
The 20-year-olds said the success of the team throughout the day was a big boost for them when they stepped into their boat.
"Our team's been doing great today," Brian said. "We definitely fed off that going into our race, it's definitely been exciting to watch the races as well as compete."
Andrew Jessop of Halifax won bronze in the K-1 500. Hugues Fournel of Dorval, Que., took the gold.
Andrew Pickrem and Adam Tenwolde of Dartmouth were third in the K-2 500, won by Quebec duo Francois de Lorimier of Pointe-Claire and Philippe Duchesneau of St-Denis de Brompton.
Houser said Nova Scotia has always been one of the strongest provinces in the country at the developmental level, but not as much in the senior ranks. Looking at Tuesday's results, he said that could be about to change.
"This is our future here. We're great," said the coach.
Canoe/kayak continues for three more days on the Southwest River. Racing was originally scheduled to begin Monday but was pushed back a day after the remnants of hurricane Bill made for choppy waters.