South Africa's Michelle Burn won the women's world title in Lanzarote today ©ICF

South Africa earned a golden double at the International Canoe Federation's Ocean Racing World Championships in Lanzarote thanks to Michelle Burn and Nicolas Notten.

Burn, 35, a silver medallist at these World Championships in 2013 and 2017, reached the top of the podium after making the smart decision to race closer to shore than the than the rest of the women’s field.

She emerged ahead of Ana Swetish of the United States and Spain’s home paddler Judit Verges Xifra.

Burn said just getting to Spain for the race was an enormous challenge because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Several leading athletes, including the 2019 world champions, Sean Rice of South Africa and Danielle McKenzie of New Zealand, were unable to travel.

"We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to get here for this ICF race," Burn said.

Nicolas Notten of South Africa won the men's title at the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships in Lanzarote today ©ICF
Nicolas Notten of South Africa won the men's title at the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships in Lanzarote today ©ICF

"Coming from South Africa there was a lot of red tape, but we really fought hard and we managed to get a few of us here.

"For me it was really, really important, I trained really hard for it.

"We haven’t had an international race for quite a long time, and I’ve had two seconds at previous ICF world champs, so I’ve just been dying to get the gold.

"So I’m very happy with today, I took a slightly different line to the other girls, I went quite shallow, which I think paid off at the end, but not so much at the beginning.

"I just had to fight hard all the way because I knew the other girls were close. It was nice that the racing was still really tight, even though not all of the countries could be here."

Burn finished the 26.6 kilometres race in 1 hour 42min 9sec, with Swetish finishing second in 1:44:09 and Xifra third in 1:45:41.

Notten added his name to a long list of South African men to win this title after moving away from Germany’s Gordan Harbrecht after 2km to open up an unassailable lead.

"It’s never easy, but this is the ultimate goal," Notten said.

"The preparation was a little bit on and off unfortunately because of the COVID crisis, and us South Africans not knowing if we would be able to make it out here.

"I just kept my head down, but I was very optimistic and in the end it worked out for us.

"I think this course suited me, anyone who is used to bigger wind and bigger conditions.

"Ultimately it was what I was hoping for, but it’s an amazing feeling to achieve it."

Harbrecht finished second, while South African under-23 paddler Ulvard Hart took the bronze medal.