ROMPIN, September 7 – Dawid Mocke proved why he is a four-time world champion and a force to be reckoned with when he won the first stage of the main category in the Pahang Ocean Paddle International Challenge (POPIC) 2022 here today.
Competing in the Open International Single Ocean Race category, which offers a cash prize of RM15,000 for the overall champion, the South African champion finished the 14 kilometer race at Pantai Hiburan here with a time of 1 hour 00:18.29.
Malaysian star, Aimi Ayumi Azwan created a surprise in this main event when she finished third in the women’s category.
The Stage 1 race today went on smooth in fine a weather, with a little overcast and occasional light rain. The calm sea conditions also helped the racers to row fast, especially Mocke who recorded a speed of five kilometers per hour.
However, Mocke had to be careful of the competitors behind him as he was only about a second ahead of second place winner Jenkinson Kent of Australia who recorded a time of 1’00:19.67s followed by fellow countryman and former under-23 world runner-up, MacKenzie Hynard who crossed the finishing line with a time of 1’01:37.18s.
“I would like to congratulate all the participants who showed seriousness in the race which is still new to them.
“There is always an Aussie who is a strong challenger in the race and all I can say is that I will try to hold the leading position for as long as possible,” he said in a press conference after the race.
Kent, 25, admitted to being surprised by his achievement today.
“I have to admit I was a bit surprised. I didn’t expect to be in second place because I expected to finish the race in fifth or sixth place, so of course this will give me motivation,” he said.
Meanwhile, the 2019 world champion, Danielle MacKenzie lived up to expectations when she dominated the women’s category after finishing the race with a time of 1’06:40.02s.
The New Zealand champion, whose averaged speed of 4.5 kilometers per hour, crossed the finish line 13 minutes ahead of second place winner Irin Neegree of Thailand who completed the race in 1’19:10.58s with Aimi Ayuni a close third with a time of 1’19:24.51s.
“This is how we raced in Australia and New Zealand, fast from the start and keeping the pace. Today’s challenge is the presence of wind from the front but overall I am happy for today,” she said.
He also gave some guidance to Aimi Ayuni to help her progress in sea canoeing.
“Don’t worry about the time gap, just keep working (training to be faster). We have started from small while here this sport is still very new. He still has a lot of time to improve herself,” she said.
Aimi Ayuni said that she did not expect to create a success that was seen as something encouraging for the country’s participants today.
“This is the first time I participate in a race like this so I don’t set any targets. I just rowed without thinking about anything but when I saw that I was close to Irin I became more and more excited.
“I think my advantage today is because I didn’t stop to drink. For tomorrow’s race, I will try to distance myself from Irin early so that she can’t duck or steal waves from me,” she said.
POPIC 2022, which is being organized for the first time in this country, will take place as many as five stages of which Pantai Hiburan Rompin is the location of the Stage 1 race.
Stage 2 will take place at Pantai Legenda, Pekan tomorrow while the last three stages are located in Kuantan involving Pantai Balok, Pantai Cherating and ending at Pantai Teluk Cempedak.
A total of 39 rowers 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.