Australians Cory Hill and Jemma Smith will be hoping to use local knowledge to their advantage when they take on the best paddlers in the world in the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships off the coast of Perth, Western Australia, on Thursday.

Hill, a two-time world champion who last won the crown in 2017, and defending champion Smith head a strong Australian contingent for the 21 kilometre race from the port city of Fremantle to the famous Scarborough Beach.

Hill will need to be at his best to defeat the South African trio of Kenny Rice, Andrew Birkett and Hank McGregor. Rice is the defending world champion, while marathon legends Hank McGregor and Andrew Birkett are chasing their first ever ocean racing crowns. McGregor finished second behind Rice in Portugal last year.

Hill, a world champion in 2015 and 2017, is also a former silver and bronze medalist. He and fellow Australian Michael Booth will have a big local knowledge advantage, having raced extensively in Western Australian conditions.

Among the other likely podium contenders, Australian Mackenzie Hynard will look to build on the bronze he won last year, with Germany’s Gordon Harbrecht was a silver medalist in 2021.

24-year-old Jemma Smith was a surprise 2023 world champion after she defeated 2019 title holder Danielle McKenzie from New Zealand and 2021 winner Michelle Burn in an exciting finish in Portugal.

McKenzie won’t be racing this week, however South Africa’s Burn will be attempting to add to the gold, two silver and one bronze she has won at previous world titles.

Also chasing a return to the podium will be American Michele Eray, a gold medalist at the inaugural world championships in 2013 who also won silver the following year.

World titles will also be contested in both under 23 and junior divisions for both men and women.

Event organisers, in consultation with local weather officials, have decided to switch the two days of racing, with the surf-ski 1 races on Thursday, with the surf-ski 2 races now being held on Saturday.

More information about the 2023 ICF Ocean Racing World Championships, including event maps and schedules, can be found here.

Australia Jemma Smith canoe ocean racing

Canoe Ocean Racing