The 2023 ICF Canoe Ocean Racing World Championships has come to a stunning close, with the first ever SS-2 (Doubles) world champions crowned on the final day of competition at Perth’s Scarborough Beach.
More than 60 crews teamed up to represent their country in the first ever official SS-2 race, it’s second appearance at an Ocean Racing World Championships after an exhibition race in 2014.
The experienced Spanish duo Judit Verges Xifra and Walter Bouzan delivered an emphatic win.
“We are really happy – we knew that we had a strong boat but we didn’t expect to win. We came here to fight for the medals but we didn’t expect the gold medal,” Verges Xifra said.
“Here in Australia, their knowledge is really strong, they grew up with these conditions, and grew up in the sea. Being here, and fighting with them, is such an amazing experience.
“It was a really good experience, for learning and for seeing different seas…for me it was a good experience and I learnt a lot,” she said.
Paddling together for the first time, Australian young guns Patrick Eley (WA) and Jasmine Locke (NSW) finished in second, closely followed by fellow Aussies Mackenzie Hynard (QLD) and Jemma Smith (NSW).
Locke said it was Eley’s local knowledge of the surf and the break that helped them to snag second place.
“I think that helped us immensely, we really tracked out wide at the start and I was getting a bit worried, but I just had complete faith in Pat, that he knew what he was doing and I just had to follow,” Locke said.
“It’s just awesome to be able to paddle here in WA, it’s such a nice area, that’s such nice wind, it’s been a really good week,” she said.
Eley added that it was an extra special medal performance, being able to share the moment with friends and family on home soil.
“For the both of us, obviously we’ve got family and relatives here, and for them to be able to come down here and really immerse themselves in what this week has produced, it’s been so special for me and I’m sure it has been for Jas as well,” Eley said.
For full results from the SS-2 World Championships – click here
For all of the paddlers in Perth this week, the World Championships was an opportunity to put their best skills on display in the water, but also mingle with competitors from across the world.
For Great Britain’s Jonathan White, it was a chance to feel part of the international Ocean Racing community.
White, the former British Royal Marine, was on patrol in Afghanistan in 2010 when he stepped on a homemade roadside bomb.
As a result of the accident, White has had both of his legs amputated above the knee, and his right arm above the elbow.
13 years later, at the 2023 ICF Canoe Ocean Racing World Championships, White won both an SS-1 and SS-2 gold medals.
But for him, the opportunity to race against the best in the sport far outweighed any athletic performance.
“The thing I love about this sport is that you are literally on the line with the best in the world. It doesn’t matter age, sex, disability or anything like that, we’re just all there together having a great time,” White said.
“There’s not many para athletes that compete in Ocean Racing, so you do benchmark yourself and where you are in the field against the able body athletes.
“I don’t really judge my races on positions, but I was just really chuffed with the performance. We got out there, made our way into the wind and then the boat just went all the way home. I knew I was having a good run because I barely drunk any water and I was just running on adrenaline.
“It was two really great days of racing, we’ve been really lucky with conditions,” he said.
White made the most of his trip down under, also taking part in the Shaw and Partners WA Race Week.
“It’s just been a fantastic two weeks for me, I’ve done eight races now in two weeks. It’s just the community, the buzz and getting to do this much paddling,” he said.