KUANTAN, 9 September – Australian, MacKenzie Hynard finally found his way to the main podium.
After two days of trailing behind four-time world champion, Hynard managed to overtake Dawid Mocke to win the third stage of the Pahang Ocean Paddle International Challenge (POPIC) 2022 canoe race at Pantai Balok here.
Local fans can be excited ahead of the final two races as national paddler Aimi Ayumi Azwan jumps to second overall in the women’s event.
The competition between male paddler repeated the intense competition in the two initial stages in Rompin and Pekan, but this time Hynard from Australia finished the first 13 kilometer cycle with a time of one hour 06:25.47 seconds.
The 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 world champion Mocke dropped to third place when he was overtaken by Kent Jenkinson who finished the race with a time of 1’06:35.41s while the South African champion finished the race with a time of 1’06:40.04s.
Mocke however still leads the overall standings after three stages, while New Zealand’s Jenkinson is second. Hynard is in third place but his win today will surely add to his motivation to overtake the two racers in front of him.
“Today’s race was very difficult. The first two days really surprised me, with the hot weather, wind and so on.
“But maybe I have been able to adapt to the hot weather. I also keep telling myself to believe in my own abilities and keep working hard until the finish line,” said Hynard whose nickname is Big Macca.
On his chances of overtaking the overall top spot Hynard said he would use the final two races to close the gap.
“The two riders in front of me will definitely try to stay, all I can do is try as hard as possible in the last two days to close the time gap,” he said.
Hynard also considers POPIC 2022 to be the best race in terms of organization for such a long event.
“I have never seen the organization of a canoe race as grand as this which is very organized organization. Basically we don’t have to do anything other than paddling, other things during these five days such as logistics are all well organized by the organizers,” said the former under-23 world runner-up.
The 2019 world champion Danielle McKenzie continued to strengthen her position as the overall leader of the women’s event after winning the third stage with a time of 1’12:10.20s but saw the two paddlers following her changed places this time.
Aimi Ayuni surprises the local fans when she managed to leave her rival Irin Neegree as the race came to an end and crossed the finish line with a time of 1’25:42.47s while the rower from Thailand was third with a time of 1’26:08.32s.
“My strategy is to start slowly today to save energy, when I pass the second buoy I will go all out.
“For tomorrow maybe I will use the same strategy, and we will see what will happen,” she said, representing Pahang.
McKenzie, who is the favorite to emerge as the women’s champion, leads the overall list while Aimi Ayuni is second with an advantage of about two seconds in front of Irin.
POPIC 2022, which starts at Pantai Hiburan in Rompin, is a unique race for canoe enthusiasts. The five-stage race will end at Pantai Teluk Cempedak this Sunday. The fourth stage race will take place at Pantai Cherating, Kuantan tomorrow.
A total of 39 paddlers participated in the men’s event and 11 competed in the women’s event for the main category.
This race, which offers a total prize of approximately RM300,000, is presented by StageMaker Sdn. Bhd. as an organizer in collaboration with the Pahang state government, Tourism Pahang and Tourism Malaysia.