KUANTAN, 11 September Four-time world champions Dawid Mocke and Danielle McKenzie created history when they emerged as the first overall champions of the Pahang Ocean Paddle International Challenge (POPIC) 2022 which ended at Pantai Teluk Cempedak here today.

Meanwhile the country’s best bet in the women’s category Aimi Ayuni Azwan emerged Asia’s best competitor after finishing the five-stage race in second place, behind McKenzie.

In contrast to McKenzie who won unchallenged in the main category of the women’s Open International Single Ocean Race, Mocke had to endure five bitter days as he was made to work hard by Kent Jenkinson, 25, and MacKenzie Hynard, 27, who respectively finished as runners-up and overall third place winner.

In the 20 kilometers fifth stage race at Pantai Teluk Cempedak today, four times consecutive world champion since 2009 Mocke finished the race with a time of one hour, 42 minutes and 23.75 seconds, followed by Jenkinson from New Zealand with a time of 1’42:41.37s while the participant from Australia Hynard was quite far behind with 1’46:23.19s.

“The first four stages were very tough, but today’s stage is even more difficult. Fortunately I had managed to build a quite comfortable time gap in front of Macca (Hynard) on the first day.

“Then I got ahead of Kent with a pretty good time gap after two days, and on the third day I knew I just had to stay close to both of them. But the third day’s race was the hardest because they tried hard to leave me.

“On the fourth stage, the situation was on my side near the island when Macca got caught in a wavy area. Kent tried hard to leave me but I managed to stay close to him,” said the 45-year-old South African contestant.

Of the five stages of the race since last Wednesday, the participant from South Africa won four-stage and recorded a total time of 6’47:05s, Jenkinson collected a total time of 6’48’05s and Hynard, who emerged as the champion of the third stage, recorded a total time of 6’57:43.

The champion of each level of the main category receives a cash prize of RM3,000 while the overall champion takes home RM15,000.

Meanwhile, McKenzie lived up to the prediction by winning all five stages easily to earn RM30,000. The paddler from New Zealand finished fifth-stage with a time of 1’46:44.80s, and 7’15:26s overall.

“I came not because of the prize, but I want to try the water here. I enjoyed the race and I will tell other paddlers about this tournament when I compete in Europe next,” said the 28-year-old 2019 world champion.

Aimi Ayuni, 24, finished today’s race with an overall timing of 2’05:2272s and 8’42:01, leaving her nearest challenger Irin Neegree from Thailand who arrived at the finish line with a time of 2’08:32.25s and 8’46 :22s overall.

This means that Aimi Ayuni who represents Pahang took home RM16,000 as a result of her successful overall second position which is worth RM10,000 and three times appearing runner-up.

“This is the first time I competed using a surfski canoe. It was a bit awkward at first but now I feel fun, not to mention getting a new experience competing in the sea,” said the student at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) from Kuala Lumpur.

POPIC 2022  in five stages namely at Pantai Hiburan, Rompin followed by Pantai Lagenda, Pekan while the last three stages will take place in Kuantan namely at Pantai Balok, Pantai Cherating and Pantai Teluk Cempedak.

A total of 39 paddlers participated in the men’s event and 11 competed in the women’s event for this 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.


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