Domination By South African Paddlers At Surf Ski World Championships

by | Oct 13, 2022 | Paddle, Canoeing Race Reports, Events & Racing

We speak with the top performing athletes from the South African Surf Ski contingent who raced in the 2022 Surf Ski World Championships, Portugal.

Surf Ski World Championships 2022
Kenny Rice takes this 3rd Surf Ski World Championship win, his first as a senior!

From our small corner of the globe, an ambitious bunch of Surf Ski paddlers set off for the World Championships in Portugal. Several of them had just faced a big week of racing at the flat water Canoe Marathon World Champs (also in Portugal) but now it was time to take the racing into the ocean.

Kenny Rice, who finished runner up to his older brother and double world champion Sean Rice at the world championships in 2019, edged past Hank McGregor (RSA), Corey Hill (AUS) and Mackenzie Hynard (AUS) in tough mild downwind conditions over a 19,8 kilometre course from Viana do Castelo to Ofir Beach. Kenny has now earned himself a Surf Ski world title in Junior, u/23 and Senior Men, the first ever to do so.

Surf Ski World Championships 2022
Hank McGregor was searching for his first World Champs win in Surf Ski and claimed his 2nd Silver medal in a close battle with Rice! (c) Ant Grote

The race boasted an enormous field of over 580 paddlers kicking things off in an epic mass start running from the beach into the water! The conditions weren’t ideal for racing as Kenny Rice explains below but everyone had the same ocean to paddle and those who could make the most of the small swell coming in over the right shoulder.

The ladies took to the course ahead of the men and were slowly reeled in by the front runners which made for an interesting factor to the racing, as Hank McGregor notes in his recap below. To end the day with 2 South Africans on every podium bar the senior and u23 women’s (where we still had at least 1 representative apiece) is outstanding!

Surf Ski World Championships 2022
Saskia Hockly (left) and Michelle Burn (right) both stoked to come away with gold and bronze respectively! (c) Jen Nisbet

What was it about our crew that stood them in such strong stead against the best in the world? Is it the conditions they face on home seas, the world class training squads located around the country, the South African attitude of ‘just going for it’? Maybe the immense dedication that each of these athletes has to the sport? Probably a good mix of them all! This is what they had to say about their preparation, how the racing played out on the day, and what their respective medals mean to them.

Kenny Rice – 1st Senior Men

Kenny Rice

Hank McGregor – 2nd Senior Men

Hank McGregor

Uli Hart – 1st u23 Men

Uli Hart

Kira Bester – 2nd u23 Women

Kira Bester

Joshua Smith – 1st Junior Boys

Joshua Smith

Saskia Hockly – 1st Junior Girls

Saskia Hockly

Holly Smith – 2nd Junior Girls

Holly Smith


Senior Men
1 Kenny Rice RSA 1:17:10.78 
2 Hank McGregor RSA 1:17:22.18 
3 Mackenzie Hynard AUS 1:17:48.03 
8 Nicky Notten RSA  1:20:06.31 
10 Jasper Mocké 1:21:11.10

Under 23 Men
1 Uli Hart RSA  1:18:43.76
2 Josh Fenn RSA 1:18:59.75 
3 Bernardo Pereira POR 1:20:29.84 
5 Daniel Jacobs RSA 1:23:11.82 
13 Dyllan Farrell RSA 1:26:49.17 

Junior Men
1 Joshua Smith RSA 1:22:59.43 
2 Marin Lanee FRA 1:24:03.01 
3 Matthew Coetzer RSA 1:25:19.95 
4 Luke Le Roux RSA  1:26:09.31 
9 Joshua Simpkins RSA 1:28:47.69 
12 Levi Mayes RSA 1:31:06.35 
20 Benjamin Maehler RSA 1:32:48.49

Senior Women
1 Jemma Smith AUS 1:26:05.45 
2 Danielle McKenzie NZL 1:27:31.06 
3 Michelle Burn RSA 1:28:14.78 
4 Nikki Birkett RSA 1:30:19.52 
7 Melanie van Niekerk RSA 1:31:42.54 
11 Candice Murray RSA 1:34:08.24 

Under 23 Women
1 Ana Swetish USA 1:30:37.36 
2 Kira Bester RSA 1:32:13.07 
3 Roisin Cahill IRE 1:35:06.34 
5 Jade Wilson RSA 1:37:11.01 

Junior Women
1 Saskia Hockly RSA 1:32:00.95 
2 Holly Smith RSA 1:35:09.73  
3 Jasmine Rayward AUS 1:35:10.50 
5 Valmajean Hockly RSA 1:37:43.28 0
16 Meriyah Dill RSA 1:57:56.79 

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