DawidÂ’s Spanish Jol Part II: Coaching and Racing

Wednesday, 06 August 2008 05:03 | Written by  Dawid Mocke
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[Editor's dictionary:

jol: [ jawl ] (plural jols) noun  Definition: South Africa social occasion: a party, or a good time (informal)]

Paddling Clinic in Valencia, Spain
Paddling Clinic in Valencia, Spain

Dawid's Downwind Taxi - Clinic 3 of 3

Have I mentioned that the Spaniards are keen?  Brrrrrrruuuu, you DO NOT understand! Today I held the last of 3 clinics here in the quaint town of La Villa Joyosa, Alicante, a suburb of the greater Valencian territory.  The group was made up of all the guys who have travelled far and wide to compete in tomorrow's race.  It would be fabulous to say that the Hombres travelled all the way from North East and West to see me, but the truth is that there is a race on tomorrow and, well, the Spaniards are all very, very.... keen; so that's why they came really!  Their passion for life exemplified in one story (many of them abounding) of the boys stopping for petrol in a small town along the way which just happened to be in the throws of a little mini-fiesta (only 2 days long....).  They were meant to stay at the same place I am but instead they got "stuck" in the town en-route and where otherwise occupied....the whole night!  They arrived at the clinic fresh off the "jol" and ready for action!  It seems the concept of a Road trip-slash-Tour is alive and well, and also, carries a lot of weight here in Spain.



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So the clinic went off brilliantly.  Many of the attendees are actually very accomplished flat-water sprint and marathon paddlers with a couple of previous and current Spanish representatives part of the group.  It felt a bit blind giving some of these guys a technique lesson as I reckon their techniques lick mine any time of the day, but I suspect the language barrier made me sound like a guru. 

The format for the clinic was pretty much the same as the previous two.  I start off with some surfski history and then go straight into the Ocean ABC of Paddling (www.surfskischool.com) which covers all the basics.  Then we do some technique work after which we talk about catching runs and going downwind.  Then we hit the water for some practical work.  Siesta starts at 1400-ish (have I mentioned I love siesta!) or thereabouts and after a meal of champion proportions (and a bit of a rest) we hit the water again for more practical work.

Today we were blessed with a classic 10-15knot breeze which made for some great surfing Mediterranean style!  Let me tell you something, this coast has some serious downwind potential!!!  A long coastline with easy access all the way down, good wind, what more could you want?  Anyway, the guys were loving it and I didn't really think that they grasped the concept, language barrier and all, so I offered some trips in the back of a double....

Have I mentioned that the guys here are KEEN!!! 

Enough said.  The next hour or so was spent as a ferry from the slipway to the ocean and back; Pablo and the Fiesta gang in the thick of it and still going strong!  This is where one of the guys commented on the downwind taxi operated by one Senor Daweed Mocke.  Step right up, today only, downwind taxi!

So, there it is.  I'll report back again tomorrow after the race (which I am beginning to suspect is going to be harder than I thought).  Until then, start checking your leave calendar and flights on Iberia Airlines, next year's race here is going to be a classic!

Here's some video footage of the clinic...


Time to race

The Spaniards love to race.  The whole week there has been a buzz all about the club and the members and I realised this morning what all the fuss was about.  The Spanish Canoe Federation has a Sea kayak/Ocean Paddling series of 5 races.  Each race is hosted by a different club somewhere in Spain.  Now I've realised that Spain is quite federalised so there is a lot of local pride; and this gets passed right down to club level.  The inter-club competition is a big deal.  Last night all the clubs started arriving, each in their own buses towing massive trailers loaded with boats.  Many paddlers had travelled 8 to 9 hours for a 15km series race.  I'm sure I've mentioned somewhere that these guys are KEEN!!!  This morning dawned and all you could see was various pockets of paddlers all in their decked out in their club kit, chests bulging.  There was a really great vibe amongst the paddlers, but under the surface you could sense the rivalry. I felt like I was on the frontline and was actually somewhat relieved when Jono informed me that Club Nautic (my hosts) weren't allowed to use me to score points for them.  I wasn't quite ready to be seen as an enemy after a week of good will.  Today's race was certainly not a social one.

Dawid Mocke, Valencia, Spain 2008
Dawid - pre-race. Note the safety lines on the skis.

Very few international surfski/ocean races can rival the superb organisation of a South African race.  In fact the only reason I say "very few" is because I actually thought there were none; that was until this morning.  We could certainly learn some tricks from these guys.  Their checking-in system is much like the boat pounds we use for our bigger canoe races (Fish and Dusi), so every paddler gets checked in and is made sure to have the necessary equipment.  Then the start area is completely cordoned off with fencing and different areas for Juniors and Seniors, singles and doubles.  There are maps of the course all over the show and everyone knows what is going on before, during and after.  There is 1 safety boat for every 10 competitors.  Of course there was also all the usual logistics we are so used to in South Africa.  One thing that they have seemed to figure out is how to make the start free and fair and also have only 1 take at it as opposed to the usual: "Get back", "2 mins to go!", "5 min penalty if you jump the start", "Numbers so-and-so get back, get back."  I was very impressed with the civil start even though there was a serious competitive edge in the air.

Starting line up The whole field starts at the same time form Junior short course right through to Veteran Doubles long course.  This obviously makes for a spectacular and semi-chaotic start.  The 15.6km course took us on a triangular route along the cliffs from La Vila Joyosa to Benidorm, out to sea for 1km and then downwind home.  I had a brilliant start which kind of set me up for the rest of the race.  Finishing downwind really helped and I completed the race a couple of minutes ahead of the next guy in 1:13.  The field consisted of between 150 and 200 paddlers, many of them still using the modified flat-water/sea kayak hybrids, although it must be said that there were plenty of surfskis around.  It seems to me that surfski should take off around the Med over the next year or so as it seems surfskis are being accepted as the ocean paddling craft of choice. 

Post race was really good as the Spanish enjoy the post race social as much as any paddling crowd around.  The prize giving is quite a big deal and everyone is decked out in club colours.  Everyone just about wins a medal and trophy, and they are all super pumped about it.  Juniors, Masters, Vets, Hombre's, Mixed....all receive a thundering applause and awards are accepted with much accolade.  My post race conversation had quite a bit dedicated to talking around the race they are doing here next year in April - the Euro Challenge 2009.  This race is going to be great by the sounds of things so start planning now.

Dawid Mocke - Valencia 2008
Dawid - out in front

Anyway, enjoy the pics and vids.  That's it from Dawid's Spanish escapades.  Adios! Hasta la Vista.

Race video


Monster Paddle

[Editor: The day after the race, Dawid and host Jono Neill went for a 76km paddle, pausing along the way to enter a massive sea-cave...]

Dawid Mocke, Jono Neil and two of Spain's most keenest paddlers (and that's VERY keen) set off from La Vila Joyosa to Deilma a distance of 76kms. No wind, headwind, sidewind and FINALLY awesome downwind. Magnificent scenery, sea caves and an english breakfast en-route. Yes thats right! An english Breakfast AND 3 coffees!

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