Australia’s Cory Hill has tamed wild race conditions in Hong Kong to successfully defend his ICF Ocean Racing World title, holding off a late challenge from South Africa’s canoe marathon world champion, Hank McGregor.
Fellow Australian Oscar Jones won gold in the men’s U18, with Noah Havard third, while Mackenzie Hynard won silver in the men’s U23.
Hill took the lead early, and once again proved he is the master of the big swell by holding off a strong South African contingent in 3-metre swell, with Jasper Moche taking third behind McGregor.
The Australian won the 2015 World Championships in similar conditions in Tahiti, after finishing second at the very first World Championships behind another South African, Sean Rice, in Portugal in 2013.
Despite being a previous world champion, Hill had never won in Hong Kong despite several attempts.
“To be honest, I didn’t see anyone for the whole race, until we got around Kissing Whales,” Hill said.
“Then I knew Jaspar and Hank were right there. I saw two black boats in fact, and there were a lot of black boats out there so I got confused with who it was.
“I had nightmares that Hank, we’ve had pretty big duels coming in from Kissing Whales for four or five years, and he’s got me every single one, so I had this nightmare in my head.
“It’s just awesome to finally get it, to finally have a win in Hong Kong and to retain that World Championship. It’s pretty unreal, to be honest. A bit overwhelming.”
McGregor said he thought he had a chance to overhaul the Australian when they turned for the final run to the finish, but found Hill too hard to catch.
“It’s never over until it’s over, but he deserves it,” McGregor said.
“We’ve had a ding-dong battle for the last couple of races, so today it was reversed. He’s a champion, he deserves it.
“We’ll see what happens next weekend when we race again.”
Hill felt confident heading into the race, especially when he saw the windy conditions. He also felt the best physically that he had for a long time.
“I’ve actually dropped a couple of kilos, so I think that’s made a little bit of a difference too,” Hill said.
“I’ve always been a bit of a chubby kid, I’m still pretty chubby, but I think that makes a little bit of a difference.”
NSW teenager Georgia Sinclair has won a silver medal and there were masters gold medals for Katherine Atkinson, Sarah Davis and Julie Jenkinson at the ICF Canoe Ocean Racing World Championships in Hong Kong.
17-year-old Sinclair was involved in a tight tussle with South Africa’s Sabina Lawrie in the women’s U18 event, eventually finishing less than one second behind the 18-year-old in flat and still conditions.
“I got something stuck on my rudder in the first four kilometres, and I had to stop and clear it,” an exhausted Sinclair said.
“She got about 300 metres on me. I got her back again and got a bit on her, but she was so fast.
“She deserved the win. I couldn’t have given it any more. It’s pretty cool, I didn’t expect that to happen.
“It was so hard. The hardest thing I have ever done. Some waves would have made it so much better, but you can’t change that. You just have to go with what you’ve got.”
Elizabeth Wise was the best placed of the Australians, finishing 11th in the open race.
“I’m absolutely stoked, I was aiming for 10th to 12th so to get 11th is fantastic in conditions that are not really suitable for me,” Wise said.
“I’m more of a downwind paddler than a flatwater paddler, so I’m over the moon.
“I felt pretty good. I had a good start, but lost a few people at a few points so I had to do a lot of work by myself.”
Brea Roadley was the best placed of the Australians in the U23 division, finishing sixth, while Katherine Atkinson won the 40-44 age group, Sarah Davis the 45-49 division, and Julie Jenkinson the 50-54 group.
The men’s race will be held on the same course tomorrow, with much rougher weather conditions forecast.
After sea kayaking from Nova Scotia to New Orleans in 2013 and following canoeist Dale Sanders on his 2015 bid to become the oldest person to paddle the length of the Mississippi River, filmmakers Brad Tallent and Austin Graham sought wilder waterways in 2017. The co-founders of Adventureitus Productions, along with their partners, Megan Tallent
By Bryon Dorr Photos: Bryon Dorr, Marc Boyd, Tom Gomes & Dennis’s many friends Dennis Judson has probably taught more people how to swim and dive than anyone in California. He carried the torch for all surf kayakers since the sport’s early days. He was an active dive and swim instructor for nearly four decades,
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Cold weather is creeping in, make sure your gear is ready. An old friend told me once that it’s never a bad day to be on the water, you just need the correct gear for the mission and elements. From my experience, that’s been the truth far more times than not. Winter is on