Cory Hill Wins Second ICF Ocean Racing World Champs

Sunday, 19 November 2017 17:56 | Written by 
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Cory Hill (L) and Hank McGregor Cory Hill (L) and Hank McGregor Credits: White Hot Media Video

A grinding upwind into steep chop; a side-on, 2m diagonally-side-on swell that needed huge power to catch, and some smooth, clean runs to the finish… 

After the disappointing weather for the women’s championship on Saturday, the NE monsoon delivered – in spades – on Sunday, 19 Nov for the men’s event of the third ICF Ocean Racing World Championships. 

Best of the best

“It was really tricky,” said Hill, “It always is here in Hong Kong.  You’ve got the best of the best paddlers lining up.”

Athletes came from over 30 countries – no question the best of the best: defending champion Cory Hill, inaugural champion Sean Rice, multiple world marathon champion Hank McGregor, South African Surfski Champion Jasper Mocke, the charging Kenny Rice, Matt Bouman and a host of up and coming European paddlers such as Nicolas Lambert, Gordan Harbercht, Esteban Medina, Benoit Leroux, Walter Bouzan and more.

Dragon Run Course

Chaos at the Start

The waves breaking on the beach complicated the start; one ski, swept sideways as its paddler attempted to mount, hit Paul Rosenquist’s rudder and bent it sideways.  He repaired it on the spot, but found himself last off the beach.

He wasn’t the only one;  “I had a terrible start; the starts are pretty chaotic at these races!” said Kenny Rice.      

Meanwhile, the lead bunch had got away cleanly, Hank McGregor pulling the field out of the bay towards the raging open water.

Hank McGregor Leads

Hank McGregor leads the pack out of Clearwater Bay

Out to Ninepins

A brisk headwind and steep, confused head-on chop greeted the paddlers as they exited the sheltered waters after the start.

“That headwind at the start is not something you love,” said Cory Hill, “but coming from Australia, we do a lot of training into the wind so it… does suit us.

I used that to my advantage.  It is a strength of mine paddling into the wind…”

Too true: a kilometre from the start and Hill had powered into the lead, making the most of the reflected chop bouncing of the base of Steep Island on the right.  4km more and they were at the Ninepins Group where they turned around the southernmost rock pinnacle to tackle the downwind section.

"From there, it’s put yourself in the best position," said Hill, "and… yeah, it’s awesome! "

Big Swell and Big Ships

The lead never changed; Hill powered away downwind, using his strength to get onto the big waves, continually working left to stay on course. 

McGregor was on a line some 300m to the NW, dicing with Kenny Rice, who’d recovered brilliantly from his bad start, while Jasper Mocke, Sean Rice and Mackenzie Hynard were on a line somewhere in between. 

Jasper Mocke and the Ship

Jasper Mocke meets a ship!  (Sean Rice goes the other side)

“Jasper and I were ding-donging it,” laughed Sean Rice afterwards, “and a tanker came right through the middle.  I went round the front of it, which is not the right end to go…  the bow was coming down and I was thinking, ‘my wife is gonna kill me – if I don’t die myself!’  It all worked out well so what can you say?! 

“But the boats are part of this race and you’ve got to stay on your toes!  The wind, the waves and the boats, so…” 

Kissing Whales

At the Cape D’Aguilar (aka the Kissing Whales), Hill took a wide line, while McGregor and Kenny Rice took a tighter line near the rocks. 

"I had a good downwind leg and bridged the gap on Cory," said McGregor.  But..

"I got to Kissing Whales and I was just ahead of Kenny Rice and got one swamping and I lost a hundred metres in, like, 20 seconds so I was suddenly lying third.   I had to catch up to second and, yeah, Cory had the edge in the end and hats off to him, he deserved it.”


The positions just before the finish - Hill 3232, McGregor 3207, Mocke 3204, Kenny Rice 3105, Sean Rice 3201

The Conditions

“It was a real surfski race,” said Matt Bouman.  “This is a great venue; it’s got a bit for everybody: there’s a flatwater bit, there’s a power bit, there’s a downwind bit and it’s hard, it’s a really honest race.”

Big Conditions

Poor quality screen grab - but it does give an idea of the conditions between Ninepins and the Kissing Whales

(That's Jasper Mocke)

Sean Rice agreed: “That was a tough race; it’s always a tough race!  The Hong Kong Dragon Run doesn’t leave any prisoners…  I’m disappointed in my race; I would love to have won the thing but at the end of the day I left it all out there and I did what I could.  I can’t be too disappointed but I’m really happy to see the level of paddling: it’s just getting better and better and better!”

“Crazy conditions; that’s probably one of the biggest we’ve raced,” said Kenny Rice. “Big ground swell running, fantastic runs.  They couldn’t have asked for more: a pure display of surfski.” 

Hong Kong is Amazing

Hill was ecstatic with his result: “Hong Kong is amazing; you’ve got a great paddling community; I can’t thank everyone enough for putting this race on year after year and getting all the best paddlers here, it can’t be easy!  I’ll be back next year, this was my sixth time here; let’s come back for number seven next year!”

Results Summary and Links

(Click here for the full official ICF results, click here for all the results including the masters categories on WebScorer.

Click here to re-run the race on and to review the Masters’ sections’ results

Click here to review the video coverage on YouTube)


  1. Cory Hill (AUS): 1:31:55
  2. Hank McGregor (RSA): 1:32:20
  3. Jasper Mocke (RSA): 1:32:53

Under 23

  1. Kenny Rice (RSA): 1:33:53 (4th overall ahead of his brother Sean!)
  2. Hynard Mackenzie (AUS): 1:35:39
  3. Valentin Henot (FRA): 1:37:54

Under 18

  1. Oscar Jones (AUS): 1:38:22
  2. Hector Henot (FRA): 1:40:33
  3. Noah Havard (AUS): 1:41:12

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