McKENZIE MAKES RETURN TO TOP OF PODIUM WITH WIN AT THE DOCTOR
Danielle McKenzie is back on top of the podium after winning the Shaw and Partners Doctor and WA Race Week titles.
After trading places with Jemma Smith all week in a thrilling continuation of their long-running rivalry, the New Zealander produced her strongest showing in the biggest race.
Smith claimed the $2,500 Race One Hot Spot, but McKenzie then surged to the front, and from there, she never looked back.
Her winning margin of two minutes was the biggest of the Shaw and Partners WA Race Week.
“It’s absolutely awesome,” McKenzie says.
“The Doctor is obviously the big one of the week, so to come away with the win is absolutely unreal.
“Today crossing the channel I knew I was in front for a fair bit, but there’s always a bit of self-doubt once you start chasing a few runs and wonder where you are situated.
“I’m just so excited I had a really fun run out there. The lead support boat was hooting the whole way and cheering me along. It was just so good to be out there and a part of it.
“We’ve had our ups and downs this week. Today I just put all of my eggs in the one basket to come away with the win.”
Danielle McKenzie back in her doctor’s coat and once again on top of the podium at Sorrento Beach. PHOTOGRAPH: Shane Myers / @monkeymyers
Speaking at the finish line, McKenzie said self-belief was her biggest weapon in the 28 kilometre crossing.
A lot of that was drawn from the 11 kilometre Dr Ben Hewitt Sunset Series race held on Thursday afternoon.
After a misunderstanding of the race rules denied McKenzie the chance for victory two days earlier, the third event of the Shaw and Partners WA Race week saw her beat Smith in a sprint finish.
The win was her first since switching skis to Epic, and also ended a four-race run of finishing second to Smith.
“It’s a relief, I think,” McKenzie said at the finish line on Thursday.
Danielle McKenzie says her win at the second Sunset Series race on Thursday was “a relief”. PHOTOGRAPH: Shane Myers / @monkeymyers
“It was another tough race all the way to the finish… and another sprint up the beach. Mentally, I think it was a good one for myself.
“I guess I’ve known I could win. So to come across the line in first place proves to myself, as well as the people around me supporting me, that I can do it.”
And so it proved, with McKenzie claiming the Doctor in a time of 1 hour, 48 minutes and 36 seconds.
The result also saw her move ahead of Smith on the Race Week point score at the final opportunity.
“It’s awesome to be finished, I’m very glad to be back here standing on land.” Smith said. “I really just tried to make the most of what the ocean had to offer.
“Dani and I split up and took different lines early, so it was just you and the ocean out there, trying to make the most of everything that it throws at you.
“Coming over here, the plan was to be as consistent as possible and be up the front end pushing the pace.”
Jemma Smith surging ahead of Danielle McKenzie to claim the $2,500 Race One Hot Spot. PHOTOGRAPH: John O’Sullivan Photography.
“I think Dani and I have shown that in every race. We’ve been so close across the week and she had an amazing paddle today.
“Full kudos to her, she is an incredible paddler and in stuff like that she really shows her form. She deserved the win today.”
Smith (1:50:36) was forced to fight to the very end of the race, with American Ana Swetish on the attack.
In the end, the margin between the two of them was just six seconds.
The women’s top three of the Doctor: Ana Swetish (left), Danielle McKenzie (centre) and Jemma Smith (right). PHOTOGRAPH: Shane Myers / @monkeymyers
“Oh, it’s unreal. I am beyond stoked.” Swetish said, after her best result in the Doctor to date.
“The whole way was so much fun, so to end up on the podium is so great.
“I’m really proud to come over here and stack up with those girls. I am super happy. This whole week I have been in the mix, but not at the front.
“I knew the conditions today would be my conditions. I felt super strong in them, but also relaxed out there.”
After battling illness, Michelle Burn (1:52:21) finished in fourth with ironwoman Hannah Sculley (1:54:15) in fifth, rounding out an impressive week of racing.