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.”