Columbia River Gorge, Hood River, Oregon – Jasper Mocke led Fish Hoek’s band of paddling brothers across the finish line in Friday’s Columbia Gorge Downwind Champs. The Mockes and the Rices once again dominated the podium after making a clean sweep in last week’s Canadian champs, albeit this time in a different order. Both Mockes (Jasper and Dawid) and older Rice brother Sean, were locked in a neck and neck battle for most of the race. In the end, Jasper showed focused concentration to maintain a narrow lead, while Sean Rice raced a brave a dogged race close to shore to come in a close second.
The Eurosteel/MockePaddling Team athlete had this to say: “I am very happy and relieved to grab a top step again. I had a good performance on the day. I found a good rhythm earlyon and managed to maintain focus throughout the race”
This unique event forms part of the World Surfski Series and is staged on the Columbia River in the water and outdoor sports crazed town of Hood River. The area is renowned amongst windsports such as windsurfing and kiteboarding, and has recently been “discovered” by downwind paddlers. A key feature of the event is that it runs upstream against a 2km/h current. Tactically paddlers need to decide to either surf the bigger wind-generated swells in the middle of the river, or stay in flat water along the river bank, yet be out of the current. Both Mocke brothers picked routes that kept them in bigger waves, while Sean Rice made a brave decision to paddle nearer the shore. It very nearly paid off, however Jasper showed immense determination to win his first World Series event of the 2016 year.
The women’s event was tight tussle with New Zealand’s Teneale Hatton (2015 World Champion) continuing her domination to take first place. It was not without a brave fight from fellow Kiwi Rachel Clarke (a former Molokai Surfski Champion) and South African/U.S.A’s Michele Eray, both of whom took turns at the front of the race. The event featured a seperate women’s start for the large field of paddlers,something which is sorely missed from most paddling events.