Dawid and Nikki Mocke – Rescue (Awesome Surf Pics)

Tuesday, 02 September 2008 16:26 | Written by 
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Dawid and Nikki Mocke were sitting behind the waves breaking on the point near Kalk Bay Harbor when they noticed onlookers yelling and waving at them.  "We thought it was some of our buddies come to watch," said Dawid, "and it was only when I caught a wave in that I saw two people in the water."

Dawid Mocke - storm surf riding
Dawid Mocke catches a giant wave near Kalk Bay (Pic: www.omiphotography.com)

Storm Surf

The paddlers were taking advantage of the huge swell left over from the weekend's storm - the worst in a decade - that saw Cape Town hit by 30-40ft swells and gale force north-westerlies.  They'd been riding the break for about half an hour when the rescue drama started.

"I actually saw the two guys running down the wall," said Dawid, "and my first thought was that they were some of those storm chaser guys and I just thought, ‘well, they're crazy...'  not that we were completely sane!"

Two or three minutes after that the paddlers heard shouts and saw people on the harbor wall waving.  "At first we all just waved back," laughed Dawid.

It was only when he caught a wave that he saw two heads bobbing up and down in the water and realized what the commotion was about.  He sprinted across to the swimmers, followed by Nikki.

"They were in full kit," said Dawid. "The one guy had a wetsuit top but I don't know what they were thinking: they had T-shirts and pants and they were so heavy." 

Dangerous harbor wall

The swimmers could make no headway at all in the swirling water.   "Guys don't understand how dangerous it is around the harbor wall," said Dawid. "It's not actually a wall that goes all the way down.  It's really a massive jetty; it's hollow underneath.  It's a huge slab of concrete that juts out into the water.  So every time a wave comes in, there's a big surge around and under it.

The Rescue

"It was a massive struggle to get the guys back in.  We put them on the back of the skis, but because they weren't strong swimmers and they didn't know anything about paddling so their balance wasn't great."

"They were also so tired," he added, "they just lay there and it was difficult to get them back in." 

Eventually they managed to paddle into the harbor to drop the swimmers off where they were charged by an unamused harbor master.

Surfski Rescue Kalk Bay 1 Sep 2008
Dawid paddles into Kalk Bay Harbor with one of the swimmers (Pic: www.omiphotography.com)

Back to playing in the waves

Meanwhile Dawid, Nikki and a couple of other Fish Hoek paddlers went back to playing at the point.

"The wave's a big right-hander," said Dawid. "It's quite gentle but you need to be careful - you start on the shoulder and work your way closer to the break."

"There were a number of waves we didn't take," he laughed.  "It sucks up and exposes the rocks so if you look to your left as you take off you'll be very intimidated."

Photographer Owen Middleton had arranged to meet the paddlers in the water.  He'd planned to paddle out in a double sea kayak but his buddy, on seeing the waves, refused to go out.

For a truly stunning set of pics, see www.omimages.co.za/lightbox - then mission your way to 'Sport' and ‘Surfski'

US Surfski Champs next stop

Dawid and Nikki are off to San Francisco shortly to take part in the US Surfski Champs on 22 September.  Nikki is enjoying being back on her surfski, having spent the last two years training for the Beijing Olympics where she was part of a South African K4 team that competed in the 500m sprints.  They came 7th out of 9 in the finals.