Australia’s Cory Hill and Jemma Smith have won historic world championship gold at the first ever ICF Canoe Ocean Racing World Championships in their home country.

Hill becomes the first man to win three ICF world titles, while Smith becomes the first woman to win back-to-back crowns, making her the most successful female paddler since the world championships began.

South Africans filled the minor placings in both the men's and the women's races, with veteran Hank McGregor winning his third silver medal, and Michelle Burn also taking her third silver, to add to the gold and bronze she has also won previously.

In the men's competition Joshua Fenn took third place, whle Kira Bester, competing in the U23 division, took the bronze in the women's race.

A 20km battle from Fremantle’s Bathers Beach, finishing at Perth’s Scarborough Beach saw more than 480 paddlers from across the world taking part.

Perth, often regarded as the home of downwind paddling, provided outstanding conditions for all paddlers, with a 20 knot south-west wind guiding them up the west coast.

Smith and Hill powered through the Indian Ocean in near record-breaking time, to deliver emphatic world championship wins.

24 year-old Smith from New South Wales’ Central Coast said it was a great way to round out what’s been a great 12 months of paddling.

“I had my sights set on that one pretty much since last year, I really wanted to go out there and have a good race,” Smith said. 

“Last week [at the Doctor] was really good and gave me a lot of confidence, but today we had more wind than we’ve had in the last two weeks.

“Out there I was just having an absolute ball and catching some runs along the beautiful WA coastline, so I’m really stoked with that.”

Smith said to win in your home country gives extra meaning to the title.

“It’s so special to be able to have a World Championships at home in Australia, it’s the first one that’s ever been held here,” Smith said.

“So to be able to come over here and put a good race together is just phenomenal, and it’s so great to see so many Australians travel over to race.

“It’s been an unreal vibe the last couple of days just getting to meet so many different people, and going out for a paddle together. It’s unreal that people are taking advantage of it, and hopefully having a really good time.”

For Hill, his third World Championship title cements his status as the greatest ocean racing paddler of the modern era.

“That capped off a really good year, I had a lot of good results throughout the year at the big races and I really peaked for them,” Hill said.

“So to cap it off being the world champion for 2023, my first one since 2017…I’m over the moon.

“It was a lot of fun out there, really fast and some of the best racing conditions that we’ve had. The wind is out, the sun was out and I was having a lot of fun.”

Arguably in the best form of his career, Hill was able to share a special celebration with his three sons and wife Llani as he crossed the line.

“It really is a family effort nowadays, we’ve got three little boys now and they’re all committed to the racing and that being a part of our lifestyle," he said.

“They come to the startline, they come on these trips and for me personally it’s such a great opportunity to set a good example for them.”

Full results from the men's and women's competition can be found here.

Phoebe Maher/Paddle Australia

Canoe Ocean Racing