US Surfski Champs – Dawid’s Race and Rambo’s Video!

Sunday, 29 August 2010 22:12 | Written by 
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US Surfski Champs – Dawid’s Race and Rambo’s Video!

[Editor: Rambo just posted his video of the US Surfski Champs – and boy, is it ever worth the wait!  Here it is – along with Dawid Mocke’s perspective of the race]

A Civil Start

US Surfski Champs 2010

The Civil Start!

“It was a very civil start,” said Dawid Mocke, “but very fast.”

Ben Allen took up the pull just under the Gate.  “When Think recruit their paddlers, one of the criteria must be that they can paddle into the wind at at least 15kph!,” said Mocke.  “Ben is a carbon copy of Sean Rice…  I was hanging on his tail like…, like,… I was just hanging on!  At one point I was thinking ‘is this really necessary?’ because it was really hard!”

US Surfski Champs 2010

Ben Allen takes up the pull

Sean Rice said later that he thought that his team-mate was doing do much work.  “But I wasn’t about to say anything at that point,” he laughed.

Behind Allen, five other paddlers including Mocke, Rice, Cotter, Shannon Eckstein and Tony Schumacher all rode wash.  Mark Anderson fell off the bunch, but managed to find a stronger current and stayed more or less level with them, but a little further out into the stream.


“We went straight in the middle of the channel on the way out,” said Mocke.  “It was only on the return trip that the currents came into the equation.”

As they went round the Pt. Bonita buoy, Ben Allen, rounding first, shot off - straight into the current whereas Mocke headed left straight for the rocks on the edge of the bay, with Cotter, Eckstein and Rice in hot pursuit.

Mocke built up a lead, passing through the rocks at Pt. Bonita.  (His race nearly ended right there – when his rudder actually hit the rock as he passed through the gap.  Another inch and his rudder would have been torn off, game over.)

Thinking that he’d dropped the others, Mocke paddled a little way into the Pt Bonita bay, trying to catch an eddy in the current – but he was soon caught by Cotter, then Eckstein and finally Sean Rice made it to the bunch.  Schumacher and Ben Allen were out in mid-stream suffering the effects of the 1kt outgoing current.

Cotter takes up the pull

As Cotter moved into the lead, Mocke tried to stay on his side-wave.  “But he was just going too fast,” he said, “I slipped back.  Shannon was on Jeremy’s tail, and I got onto Shannon’s tail – and Sean was with me.”

By the time they reached the Golden Gate, Cotter and Eckstein had broken away and were about 30m ahead of the two South Africans.

“They turned sharp left,” said Mocke, “to head back to the Fenn hotspot at Fort Baker.  There’s a big eddy right there and I went straight across it, which helped us to stay in contention.”

Cotter and Eckstein belted across the protected water to the hotspot – Cotter passing the buoy ahead of Eckstein and some 20sec in front of Mocke.

The race gets interesting

Mocke had spoken to a harbour engineer earlier in the week.  “He knows the currents really, really well – so I picked his brain about the currents around Angel Island during the ebb tide.  The bottom line is that there’s a massive eddy on the southern side of Angel Island.  But it’s not right next to the island; it’s actually a couple of miles off.

“The point is that if you go close to the island you go into the teeth of the current whereas if you’re further off, the eddy pushes you closer to the island as you go along.”

A few days before the race, Mocke and a couple of other paddlers scouted the area on the same tide.

After fifteen minutes, Mocke was once more level with Cotter and Eckstein, but far out to the south.


“At this point I got a bit worried,” said Mocke, “because there was a massive tanker coming straight for me.  It was quite daunting!  I was paddling along and I was trying to persuade myself that it’s not there, it’s going to turn…”

The tanker was escorted by a coastguard RIB complete with a manned machine-gun in the bow.

“That boat really messed me up,” said Mocke.  “For about 3min I caught no runs, it was just messy.

“The coastguard were yelling at me and I was pretending not to hear them!”

Finally the boat turned back and chased after the tanker and Mocke could focus on the race again.

US Surfski Champs 2010

Coastguard v Mocke!

“It was after that that the line really started working,” he said, “and I just took off.”

By this time Cotter and Eckstein were nearly a km to Mocke’s left, much closer to Angel Island.

“I thought I was going to hit the buoy at Pt. Blunt ahead of them,” said Mocke, “but Shannon and Jeremy put the hammer down and we got there together.”

Blood and guts to the finish

From Angel Island the three men were faced with a 9km stretch, perfectly aligned with the wind and waves to the finish at Berkeley.

“From there I told myself I was just going to have to concentrate,” said Mocke.  “Because – you lose one run… and it’s over.  They were small runs – small enough that they weren’t that fast; but big enough that you couldn’t paddle over them.  Like a slow, frustrating offshore downwind.

“I said to myself, just focus on getting the nose of the boat in the hole, just keep getting the nose in hole!  I tried not to look at the other guys, but just to focus on catching the runs.  At one point I managed to link two or three together and then they were out of my peripheral vision.

“I didn’t want to look behind; I knew they were really close so I didn’t look back, I was, like, I’m not looking back.  If I can’t see them in my peripheral then I’m fine…

“And then it was just blood and guts to the finish…”

This sequence was put together by Martin Sundberg (


“I’ve never been this stoked after a race!”

Mocke paid tribute to the Australians’ performances.  “The quality of the athletes and quality of the performance is just astounding.  We have to find a big sponsor for the World Series – there’s so much potential.”

US Surfski Champs

Rambo’s US Surfski Champs Video

[Editor: This is definitely one of the best race videos that I’ve seen – awesome sequences and tells the story beautifully… Well Done Rambo!]

US Surfski Champs 2010 from Ocean Sports Media on Vimeo.

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