South Africa’s Hayley Nixon has broken through to become the third ICF Canoe Ocean Racing World Champion in as many races, mastering the flat conditions in Hong Kong to storm to an impressive title.

Nixon took the lead after the first turn and never looked back, firstly beating back the challenge from early race leader, Teneale Hatton of New Zealand, and then withstanding a late challenge from South African teammate, Michelle Burn.

“World champion – I think I’m going to cry. I’ve been waiting to hear that all my life. It sounds amazing,” Nixon said.

“I had to talk to myself quite a lot. There was never room for complacency. I was looking over my shoulder every 200 metres.

“I couldn’t be more proud. I’ve finished next to a previous World Champion, and Michelle Burn, who was almost a World Champion. I couldn’t be prouder, but I’m exhausted.”

The race turned into more of a marathon event than an ocean race, the flat still conditions in complete contrast to conditions in Hong Kong earlier in the week.

Nixon, who came to ocean racing from a rowing background, said although she would have preferred more challenging conditions, the flat water worked to her advantage.

“I think a lot of these girls come from surf lifesaving and big wave backgrounds, so they’re really lethal in the runs. That’s where they’re efficient.

“I’m really efficient when it’s long and hard. For me, the harder the better. That’s where I really get to thrive.”

She also attributed her strength in the water to her decade in rowing.

“I owe a lot of my conditioning and my engine to rowing,” she said.

“The training we did then was ruthless, it was smart, and it was ten years of pure conditioning.

“I’ve basically spent the past four years trying to paddle a ski, and mastering the downwind.”

The U23 world title went to Sweden’s Linnea Stensils, a World Cup 200 metre gold medallist earlier this year.

“I didn’t know when I crossed the finish line that I was first in the U23,” Stensils said.

“I need to improve my aerobic capacity so this is very good training for me. It’s been good for me, motivation for going out at home in the cold.

“I’ve done three ocean races, and all have them have been flat. Hopefully next time there will be some waves.”

The U18 title went to South Africa’s Sabina Lawrie.



  1. NIXON Hayley  (RSA)     1:55:25
  2. BURN Michelle (RSA)    1:55:41
  3. HATTON Teneale (NZL) 1:56:16 


  1. STENSILS Linnea (SWE)         2:00:51
  2. PURCHASE Kyeta (RSA)         2:04:17
  3. MARIE SAINTE Laury (FRA)  2:09:04 


  1. LAWRIE Sabina      (RSA)      2:05:25
  2. SINCLAIR Georgia (AUS)      2:06:13
  3. WOOD Zara           (RSA)       2:18:29

Pic by Graham Daniel

Canoe Ocean Racing