Saturday afternoon’s Canadian Surfski Championships came down to a battle of brothers.
In the end, South Africa’s Dawid Mocke, competing in the event for the first time, held off his younger brother Jasper to take the title with a time of 1:22:09.4, compared with Jasper’s 1:22:27.8.“I had a nervous moment here coming into the river mouth,” he said after the race. “I was looking behind the whole time. I got a crink in my neck, I think.” The four-time world champion took the lead early on, shortly after making the turn at the Hot Spot, the point early in the course when paddlers leaving Porteau Cove turn and head north toward Squamish.
Last year’s winner Sean Rice, also from South Africa, was first to the Hot Spot for the men this year, but he was reportedly feeling a little ill and finished fourth with a time of 1:24:38.4, behind the Mockes and his own younger brother Ken, who came in at 1:23:25.9. Mocke said it was not necessarily his intent to pull out ahead once past the Hot Spot, but he managed to pick up an advantage from the wind swells and push out in front to stay. “If you get ahead in that, it’s very hard for someone to catch up,” he saidFrom there, Mocke said he was able to zigzag through the chop. Then around Britannia Beach, the water flattened out and he started to paddle what he described as “a hard five minutes” to open up the lead.
Brother Jasper had already passed the Rice Brothers as the race wore on and was gaining, but Mocke said he was able to change his direction a bit and keep his lead heading into the Mamquam Blind Channel and onto the finish line. As well as travelling around for the Surfski World Series, Mocke runs a surfski school in South Africa with his wife Nikki. He said he has appreciated his first time in Squamish, enjoying the paddling as well as the people. “It’s been an incredible trip,” he said.
On the women’s side, 2015 World Surfski Champion and former Olympian Teneale Hatton from New Zealand returned to Howe Sound to defend her title, finishing at 1:30:40.4. This marked the second time she has competed in the event, and she set a strong pace early on, paddling with the male competitors. She did find the conditions a little different from 2015. “We had a bit more surf last year,” she said. Hatton was also facing a bigger field than last year, but she thinks having raced here once, she had a better idea about the tides and other elements of the route. “I knew the course this year,” she said. “I definitely took a better line. ”Hatton is now preparing for the North American Downwind Championships to be held this week at the Columbia River Gorge in the U.S.
As far as the fastest Canadian in the race, Greg Redman pushed past Wes Hammer to stake his claim to the honour. He came in at 1:29:24.2, or 12th overall, compared with Hammer’s 1:29:53.9.
Saturday’s race marked the third year for the Canadian Surfski Championships in Squamish, with 120 paddlers registered this year. “That’s almost up 50 percent from last year,” announcer and co-organizer Bob Putnam said. “People are coming from around the world…. These guys are very fast. They’re not just your average paddlers.”
The Squamish Paddling Club organizes the event with help from sponsors, especially in terms of prize offerings. “All this industry support for this event had made us able to attract the international paddlers,” Putnam added
Mike Chouinard / Squamish Chief