2012 US Surfski Champs - 96 paddlers, 11 countries

Saturday, 04 August 2012 16:57 | Written by 
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Dawid Mocke and Dani Viloria paddle under the Golden Gate Bridge during the warm-up race Dawid Mocke and Dani Viloria paddle under the Golden Gate Bridge during the warm-up race

San Francisco: 96 athletes from 11 countries will line up later today to race the new US Surfski Championships course, among them a fair selection of the best surfski paddlers in the world today.


To crack top five in this race, you’d have to beat:

  • Dawid Mocke (SA) – currently #1 in the OWS rankings
  • Jeremy Cotter (Aus) – currently #2 in the OWS rankings
  • Jasper Mocke (SA) – just beat Sean Rice in the ASKR race in Norway last weekend
  • Sean Rice (SA) – came second in the ASKR race
  • Simon van Gysen (SA) – won a sensational victory in both races in the EuroChallenge race in Spain in May this year, beating a stellar field of paddlers including Dawid Mocke, Hank McGregor and Jeremy Cotter
  • Michael Booth (Aus) - currently #1 Junior ranked paddler in the OWS rankings
  • Cory Hill (Aus)
  • Hayden Smith (Aus/UAE)

Some of Europe’s top paddlers are here too:

  • Joep van Bakel (Netherlands) – who came third in the ASKR race
  • Dani Viloria (Spain) – arguably Spain’s top downwind paddler, spent 2 months last year in Cape Town training with the Mocke brothers.

US Surfski Champs

Race Registration 

US Paddlers

Among the US paddlers will be:

  • Olympian and Epic Kayaks CEO Greg Barton.  (Barton raced three Olympic Games and won bronze in K1 1000m in 1984; gold in K1 and K2 in 1988 and bronze in K1 in 1992).
  • Olympian Philippe Boccara (bronze in K4 in 1984)
  • Dorian Wolter (won the 20mi Blackburn Challenge in Massachusetts last month, setting a record time in the process)
  • Patrick Hemmens
  • Gabe Newton is the dark horse in the US race.  Newton spent a couple of months earlier this year in Cape Town, paddling with the Mocke brothers and training in downwind conditions.

The top four men (excluding Gabe Newton) have all featured in the top ten at the US Surfski Champs, Greg Barton dominating.  Barton was seventh last year with Wolter in ninth just ahead of Boccara. 

Dorian Wolter

Dorian Wolter is no stranger to rough water, having competed at the top level in whitewater kayaking.


Up and coming South African paddler Nicole Russell won the Durban Winter Series this year and should have a good chance of beating Kristen Podolak (USA) and Linda Warren (Canada).  ‘Ale Hedlund (USA/Hawaii) is the only junior woman paddler in the race.

After the warm-up downwind paddle on Wednesday, Nicole was heard to say, “that’s the most fun I’ve ever had on a ski…”  Yep, the downwind paddling in San Francisco is truly fantastic.

Booming surfski market

Although the field is dominated by Fenn, Epic and local manufacturer Huki, there are no fewer than nine surfski manufacturers represented today.   Our top picks are on:

  • Fenn: Dawid and Jasper Mocke, Jeremy Cotter
  • Allwave: Simon van Gysen, Dorian Wolter
  • Epic: Greg Barton, Cory Hill
  • Think: Sean Rice, Michael Booth

2012 US Surfski Champs

The new 14mi/22.5km course

New Course

For the first time, the race will be almost all downwind.  The start is at Rodeo Beach, just to the north of the bay; goes cross wind to the mouth of the bay, through the notoriously rough “potato patch” and then into the downwind proper.  The paddlers are obliged to go round a buoy near Fort Baker and then the navigation buoy at the tip of Angel Island before crossing the bay to the finish at Berkeley.

Live Commentary

Check back in a couple of hours for the live commentary here on Surfski.info!  We'll kick off at about 1h30PM San Francisco time...


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